Naples-based Grimaldi Group is seriously considering to reflag all its ferries and roro ships deployed on the motorways of the seas to and from Italy to another EU country if new rules regarding the local cabotage will be confirmed in the near future by the Italian government.
“We will be forced to move our ships to another EU flag if nothing will change with the new rules due to enter into force for the short sea shipping services. I have already had some discussions with ministers of transport from Malta, Sweden, Finland and UK and they will be all very glad to welcome our ships,” Emanuele Grimaldi told Splash after the latest assembly of the Italian shipowners association held in Rome.
Last July, following a fierce competition between Grimaldi, Tirrenia, Moby and Grandi Navi Veloci on the short sea shipping market where some extra-EU seafarers were embarked thanks to tailor-made agreement with labour unions, the Italian minister of transport decided to limit the access to international registry’s fiscal benefits only for the Italy-flagged roro ships with 100% Italian or EU crew members onboard on the routes linking two national (continental or insular) ports.
Grimaldi said about the different EU-flag options: “In Sweden they are launching a new tonnage tax scheme that seems to be very attractive”. Apart from the consequences on the ships owned by Grimaldi Group, the new regulation on the cabotage services coming into force in Italy next year will put at risk some 1,500 direct and indirect workers according to Confitarma’s prevision.
By and large Italian merchant fleet last year decreased from 1,503 to 1,476 units and from 17.1m to 16.5m gross tonnage according to the Italian shipowners association statistics. The largest decrease was in the containerships (-14%) and oil tankers segments (-11%) in terms of GT.