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    Port of Brussels launches attack on federal state

    © Belga
    In Belgium, an entire group of sea and river ports are taxed according to their own specific regime.
    © Belga

    The port of Brussels, the port authority established under public law, itself dependent upon the Brussels region, has lodged an action to set aside legislation in the Constitutional Court. The action seeks to set aside the federal law, which puts an end to the historical tax exemption, from which Belgian ports benefit, as is reported on Wednesday in L’Echo.

    In Belgium, an entire group of sea and river ports (particularly those of Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Charleroi, Ghent, Liège, Namur and Ostend, as well the ports situated along the Hainaut and Flanders canals) are not subject to the general corporation tax regime, but are taxed according to their own specific regime. They therefore, overall, pay less tax than other companies carrying out given trading activities in Belgium. 

    In July 2017, the European Commission ordered Belgium to put an end to these tax exemptions, which it believed to be illegal state aid. The Belgian ports took legal action in the ECJ to challenge the interpretation of the European Executive. The decision for these proceedings has not been issued. 

    Whatever the decision, the port of Brussels has henceforth lodged an application with the Constitutional Court to set aside the Belgian law implementing the European decision. 

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times