Local media has reported that Greek Shipping Minister Fotis Kouvelis pledged to resolve the issue of VAT on goods and services supplied to non-ocean-going vessels imposed by the EU directive, according to a statement issued by the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week. According to these reports, the EU-mandated measure was recently imposed via a joint ministerial decision by the Greek shipping and finance ministries. 

Warning that the decision would be detrimental to the future of yachting sector, professionals had called on the Piraeus Chamber and on the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping to take immediate action, underlining that the mandate had failed to take into account Greece’s large number of island communities. 

“Greece should be following Spain’s suit in promoting and growing the country’s yachting businesses by relaxing inflexible chartering regulations to allow for a larger influx of foreign-flagged charter vessels, but instead, only last year, further tightened the rules relating to foreign-flagged charter vessels operating in Greece,” explains Jennifer Timinis, communications director at Oceda yacht agency.

“Unlike the French who, despite exceeding pressure from the EU, have always made the best efforts to protect as much as possible their booming yacht industry, the Greeks have repeatedly introduced domestic regulations limiting the growth of the yachting market and have now succumbed with little resistance to the EU by introducing further unfavourable regulations."

Attending the chamber’s board meeting, Kouvelis said that the issue would be resolved after underlining that the decision had failed to take into account Greece’s ‘insular character’, with its many islands. He promised the ‘restructuring of the ministerial decision’ in cooperation with the finance ministry.

“There is no doubt that this ministerial decision came about due to increasing pressure from the EU to comply with European law allowing VAT exemptions to apply only to vessels operating on the high seas," adds Timinis. "Surely a more prudent government would have argued that the implementation of such legislation would effectively kill the Greek yachting market and force yachts out of Greece to other countries where they can benefit from such exemptions? Chartering off the coast of Greece in high seas is close to impossible especially when one considers the vast number of Greek islands and islets scattered around the Greek mainland.”

SuperyachtNews will update readers as soon as more information becomes available.

Article updated on 3 November 2018 to include reference to local media reports.


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