After a Decision of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Commission that single-hull oil tankers were to be withdrawn from EU territorial waters many ship-owners, including Italians, scrapped antiquated single-hull tankers. In the case of Italy, either because ship-owners there have a strong union or because the Italian government is extra-rich to the extent that it can subsidise even its ship-owners, it has granted a state aid despite that scrapped tankers were depreciated many, many times. This fragrant case of state aid has been under examination by the European Commission for more than a year, with the hard facts on the one hand and pressures exerted by Italian ship-owners to their government on the other. Finally, the European Commission decided to agree on the state aid paid by the Italian government. It is worth mentioning that no other Member State in a similar situation (i.e. Spain, UK, Greece, etc.) has paid any kind of subsidy to their ship-owners despite that they also scrapped their single-hull tankers.
It goes without saying that the withdrawal of single-hull tankers was a correct decision because the environment and in particular air and water is all that we have.
Nevertheless, if the European Commission has legitimately approved the Italian state aid and given that scrapped tankers of EU ship-owners were navigating all over EU territorial waters and the withdrawal decision was an EU Decision, the Commission should also bear the cost to subsidise all ship-owners that have withdraw their tankers by itself. By letting the Italian government to do it by itself, no matter what reasons it may have, is against EU Competition Law since it gives tremendous financial advantages to a certain industry in a specific Member State and I will not be surprised if DG Transport and DG Competition together with DG Internal Market, end up in Luxembourg. And since we are talking of Italian state aid, could somebody tell us why on a certain Monday morning (8.00 am) Chief of Staff of the President’s Cabinet Mr. Stefano Manservisi invited to his office the Director General of DG Transport and Energy Mr. Francois Lamoureux? Just for coffee or in relation to another Italian state aid that was approved by the European Commission a few days later? I do not know what to say but this unusual situation much reminds me of favours that governments anticipating that will soon be out make to their voters. Do Italians know something that we do not? (668)