Harbour dues in Spain

The European Commission sent Spain a reasoned opinion on 3rd April, which is the last step before possible referral to the Court of Justice, for providing in its national legislation for discriminatory harbour dues.

The problem is located int harbour dues charged when vessels visit the Canary and Balearic Islands, or Ceuta and Melilla are lower than those levied on traffic between ports on the Spanish mainland and elsewhere in the Community.

Such forms of discrimination are in principle contrary to the provisions of Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport between Member States and between Member States and third countries. They can be justified only on the basis of overriding reasons relating to the public interest.

In this context, Spain claimed the need to defend territorial cohesion. It failed, however, to adduce sufficient evidence to demonstrate that its subsidies are necessary and proportionate, particularly in the light of the compensation already in place for public service obligations for the areas in question.