The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has threatened the European Union (EU) with a shipping “Grexit” due to an ongoing investigation on the country's tax regime.
Theodore Veniamis, president of UGS, said in the union’s annual report that “the perpetuation of the investigation into the Greek shipping institutional framework, by the services of the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission, leaving a shipping community which represents 50% of the EU fleet in capacity, places half of the European shipping at risk.”
“The prospect of relocation to hospitable shipping countries outside Europe, or even within Europe but outside the EU, is no longer hypothetical,” Veniamis added.
His comments come at a time when the Greek government is trying to convince UK-based shipping firms to relocate to Piraeus.
Greek shipowners and the European Commission (EC) have been at loggerheads for the past two years, especially after the EU was set to launch a formal investigation into the country’s shipping tax regime.
Veniamis said at the time that this move could open “a can of worms” by exposing other member states’ tax practices.
Meanwhile, UGS appears to have the support of Greece’s left-wing government, led by prime minister Alexis Tsipras.
Late last month, the union agreed to extend the duration of an additional voluntary tax contribution pact with the government by one year.