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State aid to shipbuilding

State aid to shipbuilding

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about State aid to shipbuilding


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Competition > Rules applicable to specific sectors > Competition in transport

State aid to shipbuilding (I)

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 3094/95 of 22 December 1995 on aid to shipbuilding [See amending acts].


Regulation (EC) No 3094/95, which was the result of an agreement concluded in 1994 within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding normal competitive conditions in the commercial shipbuilding and repair industry, cannot enter into force until the agreement has been ratified by all the parties. Given the reluctance by the United States to ratify, the Council initially adopted Regulation (EC) No 1540/98 in its place. This Regulation has now expired and has been replaced by the link on state aid to shipbuilding.

Definition of some of the terms used in the Regulation (“shipbuilding”, “ship repair”, etc.).

Enumeration of the various types of aid and the conditions which must be satisfied for them to be judged compatible with the common market:

  • social assistance (when such aid is intended to cover the cost of measures for the exclusive benefit of workers who lose retirement benefits or who are made redundant or are otherwise permanently deprived of their employment in the respective shipbuilding, conversion or repair enterprise, when such assistance is related to the discontinuance of shipyard activities, bankruptcy, or changes in activities other than shipbuilding, conversion or repair);
  • research and development aid (when such aid relates to fundamental research, basic industrial research, applied research or development, provided the limits set by the Regulation are observed);
  • indirect aid (when this is given in the form of state loans and guarantees, as development assistance to a developing country or for the building or conversion of ships, provided the conditions laid down in the Regulation are observed).

Derogations in favour of Spain, Portugal and Belgium, whereby reconstruction aid granted in the form of investment assistance and any other aid for social measures not covered by the Regulation and granted after 1 January 1996 may be authorised, provided the conditions laid down in the Regulation are observed.

Possibility of considering other aid to be compatible in the particular cases listed in the Regulation.

Monitoring procedure:

  • obligation on Member States to give the Commission advance notice of any aid scheme or amendment of an existing scheme, any decision to apply an aid scheme to an undertaking or any individual application of aid schemes;
  • obligation on Member States to provide the Commission with various reports on aid, on the basis of which the Commission draws up an annual overall report to serve as a basis for discussion with national experts.


Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 3094/95 31.12.1995 OJ L 332 of 30.12.1995
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 2600/97 23.12.1997 L 351 of 23.12.1997

Related Acts

Seventh Commission report to the Council on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (2003) 232 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The countries or regions with the largest market shares in this sector are Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union. The sector is currently reeling from a deep crisis caused by three factors: past over-ordering, the global economic slowdown – and particularly the US slowdown – and the repercussions of September 11.

Order intake worldwide fell by 12.3% from 2001 to 2002, following a decrease of 20.7% between 2000 and 2001. European shipyards have, however, been the worst affected by this slump, with orders generally down 50% on 2001 and by over 70% compared to 2000. The hardest hit vessels are container ships and cruise ships. Only oil product tankers and bulk carriers have seen increased ordering, due to the replacement of old tonnage following new European Union maritime safety regulations and strong domestic demand in the Far East.

The main shipbuilding regions have, however, been affected in different ways: Japanese yards have the advantage of strong domestic demand, especially for bulk carriers; South Korea and China are battling for tanker contracts; and the European Union is only really active in the ferries and small tankers segment, where replacement needs are building up, although it is possible that Korean shipbuilders might try to further penetrate this market segment.

Prices: the statistics show that some categories of vessel are particularly affected by a major drop in market prices. Large container ships have seen their sales prices fall as a result of excessive price-cutting by Korean yards. The trend has been such that production costs have not always been covered. This is all the more surprising as the current weakness of the US dollar against the euro, won and yen should have led to an across-the-board increase in US dollar prices. Studies have also been carried out to investigate the relationship between the normal price, which is the full cost of production plus a profit margin of 5%, and the actual contract price charged by certain Korean shipyards. Given that production costs have risen in recent years, the gap between contract prices and normal prices has widened further. The studies are based on an analysis of several Korean yards and have revealed that the difference between the normal price and the contract price ranges from between -1% and -39%. All these results indicate a clear trend: Korean shipyards are trying to grab every order that appears in the market no matter the cost, despite assertions made to the contrary by the management of the different Korean groups. This strategy could be damaging if Korean yards fail to take certain factors into consideration, such as inflation and debt servicing, and major financial difficulties could ensue in the short term.

Sixth Commission report to the Council on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (2002) 622 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Following the breakdown of two rounds of talks conducted by the Commission (26-27 August 2002 in Seoul and 24-27 September 2002 in Brussels) the Commission had no choice but to initiate proceedings with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and to start bilateral consultations with the Republic of Korea. At the same time a temporary defensive mechanism was authorised for certain market segments and for a limited period only.

The crisis in world shipbuilding is deepening with very slow order intake in the major shipbuilding regions in the first six months of 2002. The main reasons are past over-supply, slowing economies around the world and the effects of 11 September. Only Japanese yards still manage to fill building slots. However, this is helped a lot by domestic demand, in particular for bulk carriers, as has been long-standing practice in this region.

World-wide ordering of new ships in the first half of 2002 was down by almost two thirds compared to average quarterly figures in 2000, which was admittedly the best year ever for shipbuilding. In the EU the situation is even worse, with ordering down by almost 80% compared to 2000. Prices for new ships have declined further and are now at the lowest level for more than a decade. Yards in South Korea have further lowered offer prices despite increases in all major cost factors, and a number of Korean yards may find it difficult to meet their financial obligations if order intake is not increased soon.

Fifth Commission report to the Council on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (2002) 205 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The world shipbuilding market continues to face serious difficulties due to a substantial imbalance of supply and demand. Past expansion of shipyards, mainly in Korea, but now increasingly also in China, has led to price depression. Thanks to a historically high level of ordering in 2000, prices recovered to some extent, but the significant drop in orders in 2001 has led to a new reduction in prices. The year 2001 has been very problematic for the maritime industries worldwide: the recession in the United States and the terrorist attacks of 11 September have reduced the demand for sea trade and cruises respectively. The decline in ordering affected the container ship and cruise ship sectors most, leading to a drop in overall market shares for Korea and the EU, which are particularly strong in these segments.

The detailed cost investigations undertaken by the Commission show that certain Korean yards continue to price ships below cost while others are trying to improve their bottom line. Despite various rounds of talks with Korea, the Commission did not manage to convince the Korean authorities and yards to fully implement market principles and allow a shake-out of non-viable companies. An improvement in the market situation is therefore unlikely and the Commission has consequently proposed counter-measures to the Council, including preparing the ground for requesting a dispute settlement at the World Trade Organisation and the introduction of a temporary defensive mechanism for shipbuilding.

Fourth Commission report to the Council on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (2001) 219 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The year 2000 has seen a significant expansion in orders for new ships. Nearly 56% more orders were placed as compared to 1999, primarily benefiting South Korean shipyards, which have seen their market share increase again. EU yards also benefited considerably from the higher demand for ships, although orders for cruise ships probably played a dominant role here. In 2000 South Korea has consolidated its dominant position on the world shipbuilding market, accounting for more than 35 % of all tonnage ordered worldwide. If cruise ship orders are included, the market share for the EU and Norway is around 18 % (in cgt). However, if they are excluded from the overall figures, the market share of EU yards for new orders in 2000 is below 10 %. In 2000 prices for new ships are reported to have recovered in certain market segments from the very low levels seen after the Asian crisis in 1997.

Third Commission report on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (2000) 730 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

In this report the Commission confirms the general trend highlighted in the second report of 18 May 2000, namely that, despite increased orders, ship prices have not on the whole recovered the ground lost since 1997. Prices continue to be depressed owing to the very low offer prices from yards in South Korea, which is now the biggest shipbuilding country in the world. Over the first eight months of 2000, its shipyards took more than 40% of all new orders. The Commission considers the stagnation in prices to be all the more alarming in that the European Union has drastically cut back state aid to shipbuilding. Despite the signing of the Agreed Minutes in June 2000 aimed at obtaining from South Korea firm commitments on non-intervention in the financing of shipbuilding, bilateral talks ended in failure. The Commission thus plans to:

  • continue its monitoring of the market situation;
  • examine the European industry’s complaint of October 2000 against Korean dumping, in order to deal with this problem under WTO rules;
  • remain open, at the same time, to any Korean proposals;
  • continue efforts to re-establish fair competition at international level;
  • encourage the International Monetary Fund to ensure that the restructuring of Korean shipyards is closely monitored;
  • continue to cooperate with the industry on competitiveness issues;
  • examine with the Council any possible action to address the problem.

Second Commission report on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (2000) 263 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The report takes stock of the world shipbuilding market. The market is in crisis, with supply outstripping demand. Vessel prices are falling in the face of unbeatable competition from Korean yards, which are prepared to sell at a loss in order to ensure market share and cash flow. To address the problem, the European Commission obtained an agreement from the Korean authorities to restrict State financial intervention in the shipbuilding industry. The Commission also gathered evidence pointing to unfair competition, and a complaint may be filed under the Trade Barriers Regulation.

First Commission report on the situation in world shipbuilding [COM (1999) 474 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The report describes overcapacity on the shipbuilding market, with a marked imbalance between supply and demand caused mainly by South Korea’s increased capacity. Vessel prices were between 15 and 30% down on 1998 levels, stimulating demand and increasing the Korean yards’ market share. There were reasons to believe that Korean yards were offering vessels at below-retail rates.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1177/2002 of 27 June 2002 concerning a temporary defensive mechanism to shipbuilding [Official Journal No L 172 of 2.7.2002].

The commitments contained in the Agreed Minutes signed by the European Commission and the Government of the Republic of Korea on 22 June 2000 with a view to ensuring an effective price surveillance mechanism have not been effectively implemented by the Korean side and therefore a satisfactory result has not been obtained.

Consequently, despite the ban imposed by Council Regulation (EC) No 1540/98, the 2002 Regulation introduces a temporary defensive mechanism applicable to certain segments of the market (namely container ships and product and chemical tankers) for a short and limited period authorising support of 6% of contract value before aid. The aim is to enable Community shipyards to overcome unfair Korean competition. This Regulation expires on 31 March 2004.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Another Normative about State aid to shipbuilding


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Competition > Rules applicable to specific sectors > Competition in transport

State aid to shipbuilding (II)

To remove the differences between the rules applicable to the shipbuilding industry and to those applicable to other industrial sectors.

2) Document or Iniciative

Framework on state aid to shipbuilding [Official Journal C 317 of 30.12.2003].

3) Summary


Since the early 1970s, state aid to shipbuilding has been subject to a series of specific Community regimes. This framework, which replaces Council Regulation (EC) No 1540/98, is designed to remove the differences between the rules applicable to the shipbuilding industry and those applicable to other industrial sectors. However, it takes account of specific factors affecting the shipbuilding sector, namely:

  • the nature of the world shipbuilding market (overcapacity, depressed prices, etc.);
  • the nature of ships as very large capital goods in respect of credit facilities;
  • the difficulty of applying the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on unfair trading practices to the shipbuilding sector;
  • the existence of agreements within the Organisation for Economic coordination and development (OECD) in the shipbuilding sector; this mainly concerns the 1994 Agreement on respecting normal competitive conditions in the shipbuilding and repair industry, which has not entered into force and which the OECD is in the process of replacing.


For the purposes of this Framework, the following definitions shall apply:

  • shipbuilding: the building of self-propelled seagoing commercial vessels;
  • ship repair: the repair or reconditioning of self-propelled seagoing commercial vessels;
  • ship conversion: the conversion of self-propelled seagoing commercial vessels of not less than 1 000 gt, on condition that conversion operations entail radical alterations to the cargo plan, the shell, the propulsion system or the passenger accommodation;
  • self-propelled seagoing commercial vessels, including:

– vessels of not less than 100 gt used for the transportation of passengers and/or goods;
– vessels of not less than 100 gt for the performance of a specialised service (for example, dredgers and ice breakers);
– tugs of not less than 365 kW;
– fishing vessels of not less than 100 gt;
– unfinished shells of vessels.


Aid to shipbuilding includes aid to any shipyard, related entity, shipowner or third party which is granted, whether directly or indirectly, for the building, repair or conversion of ships.

The Framework provides for special measures in relation to investment aid for innovation, closure aid, export credits, development aid and regional aid.

Research, development and innovation aid

Aid granted to defray expenditure by shipbuilding, ship repair or ship conversion firms on R&D projects may be considered compatible with the common market if it complies with the rules laid down in the Community framework for state aid for research and development.

Aid granted for innovation in existing shipbuilding, ship repair or ship conversion yards may be deemed compatible with the common market up to a maximum aid intensity of 20% gross, provided that it contributes to the search for innovative products and processes.

Closure aid

Aid to defray the costs resulting from the total or partial closure of shipbuilding, ship repair or ship conversion yards may be considered compatible with the common market provided that the resulting capacity reduction is of a genuine and irreversible nature.

The costs eligible for aid are:

  • payments to workers made redundant or retired before the legal retirement age;
  • the costs of counselling services to workers made or to be made redundant or retired;
  • payments to workers for vocational retraining;
  • expenditure incurred for the redevelopment of the yard, its buildings, installations and infrastructure for use other than shipbuilding.

Companies receiving partial closure aid must not have benefited from rescue and restructuring aid in the past ten years. For further information, see the Community guidelines on state aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty.

Employment aid

Aid granted for the creation of employment, the recruitment of disadvantaged and disabled workers or to cover the additional costs of employing disadvantaged and disabled workers in shipbuilding, ship repair or ship conversion firms may be considered compatible if it complies with the substantive rules laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 2204/2002.

Development aid and export credits

Aid to shipbuilding in the form of development aid or export credits may be considered compatible with the common market if it complies with the terms of the 1998 OECD Arrangement on Guidelines for Officially Supported Export Credits and with its Sector Understanding on Export Credits for Ships.

Regional aid

Regional aid to shipbuilding, ship repair or ship conversion may be considered compatible with the common market on condition that it fulfils the following conditions:

  • aid must be granted for investment in upgrading or modernising installations with a view to improving productivity and must not be linked to financial restructuring of the yards concerned;
  • in the regions referred to in Article 87(3)(a) of the EC Treaty and in compliance with the regional aid map, the intensity of the aid must not exceed 22.5%;
  • in the regions referred to in Article 87(3)(c) of the EC Treaty and in compliance with the regional aid map, the intensity of the aid must not exceed 12.5 % or the applicable regional aid ceiling, whichever is the lower.

Aid must cover eligible expenditure as defined in the Community guidelines on regional aid.

Member States are required to submit annual reports to the Commission on all existing aid schemes. This Framework will be applicable from 1 January 2004 until 31 December 2006 at the latest. It may be reviewed by the Commission during this period, in particular in the light of the Community’s international obligations.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

The OECD and the examination of EC economic policies

The OECD and the examination of EC economic policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The OECD and the examination of EC economic policies


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Economic and monetary affairs > Stability and growth pact and economic policy coordination

The OECD and the examination of EC economic policies

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council: Establishment of an OECD EDRC examination of EC economic policies alongside the Euro Area Survey [COM(2005) 150 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


In the communication, the Commission replies to the request made to the OECD by Australia, Canada, Korea, the United States, Japan and Mexico to widen the economic examination carried out by the EDRC so as to include Community policies that have an impact on the EU’s economic performance. For the time being, there is no overall annual review for the euro area *, and the OECD’s economic reviews are restricted to individual country examinations. The Commission accepts that a Union review should be carried out, provided that a number of conditions are met.

The EC and the OECD EDRC review

The EDRC is an OECD committee. It prepares country-specific economic reviews that are published every one to two years for each of the 30 OECD members. The reviews are designed:

  • to assess how authorities can improve economic performance;
  • to encourage the participating economies to strengthen their policies with a view to enhancing productivity and to promote growth.

The review leads to formal recommendations which are not legally binding on members.

Since the reviews are country-specific, there is no genuine EDRC review of Community policies from a global viewpoint. The 19 Member States of the European Union which are also OECD members are reviewed individually, with Community-wide policies often being addressed, albeit in a fragmented and repetitive manner. This does not allow official EC representatives to comment properly on such policies in a way that reflects their Community nature. However, since 2001 the EDRC has carried out an annual self-standing review of the euro area because of the particular characteristics of its economy.

This situation is unsatisfactory, both from an internal EC perspective and from the perspective of the other OECD members. Accordingly, the Commission suggests that the EC accept the establishment of a separate and distinct review by the EDRC of Community economic policies alongside the existing euro-area survey.

Establishing an EDRC review of Community economic policies

The Commission proposes that:

  • a separate and distinct EU-25 review of Community structural and sectoral policies be established;
  • the existing euro-area review continue and be confined to macroeconomic policy issues.

The Commission stresses that the two exercises should be kept separate since the euro-area review concerns only twelve Member States (all OECD members), while the EU-25 review concerned all the Member States (which are not all OECD members). The Commission considers that the advantages of an EU-25 review would be the transparency and overall visibility of Community policies.

Community conditions

Establishing an EU-25 review would necessitate appropriate procedural devices which must take account of the uniqueness of the Community, and in particular the division of competencies between the Community and its Member States, the rules on the external representation of the Community and the status of the Community within the OECD. These arrangements will be negotiated within the OECD.

The Commission stresses that acceptance by the Community of an EDRC review is dependent on certain guarantees being given, namely:

  • the six Member States that are not currently OECD members (Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia) will be granted observer status for the EU-25 review;
  • the Community policies will be examined during the EU-25 review and no longer analysed during the separate reviews of Member States;
  • the EU-25 review could alternate with the euro-area review, given the considerable coordination that would be required at various levels of the Union;
  • the Commission will have a clear mandate to negotiate the specifications and arrangements for any EU-25 review with the OECD;
  • the Commission will represent the EC Member States for the purposes of the review;
  • the examination procedure of the review will follow the same model as the euro-area review and will be subject to consensus within the EDRC;
  • the Community be granted a status that allows for equality of treatment with regard to other examinees, which have a right of veto within the EDRC.
Key terms used in the act
  • OECD (Organisation for European Cooperation and Development): The OECD is a forum within which governments collaborate in response to the economic, social and ecological challenges posed by globalisation. In 1961 it replaced the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OECE), which was set up in 1947 under the Marshall Plan.
  • Euro area: At present, twelve Member States make up the euro area, i.e. they have introduced the euro as their official currency. The Member States concerned are: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Three countries, viz. Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have not yet introduced the euro. The Member States that joined the Union on 1 May 2004 are to introduce the euro once they are ready to do so.

Fighting corruption

Fighting corruption

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fighting corruption


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Fighting corruption

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 6 June 2011 – Fighting corruption in the EU [COM (2011) 308 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Corruption affects all countries of the European Union (EU) to various degrees. Corruption is harmful, not only financially but also socially, because it is often used to mask other serious crimes such as trafficking in drugs or human beings. In addition, it can weaken citizens’ trust in democratic institutions and their political leaders.

Several anti-corruption instruments exist at international and EU level, but their implementation by Member States remains uneven.

In order to strengthen the political will, in all Member States, to tackle this problem, the Commission announces the setting up of an Anti-Corruption Report and calls on EU countries to implement the existing anti-corruption instruments more effectively. It also presents measures aimed at a stronger focus on corruption in EU internal and external policies.

Anti-Corruption Report

Starting in 2013, the Commission will publish an Anti-Corruption Reportevery two years as an EU evaluation and monitoring mechanism. The Report will identify trends and weaknesses that need to be addressed, and stimulate exchange of best practices. It will give a better reflection of the efforts made and problems encountered, and of the causes of corruption.

The Report will be based on data from different sources, including the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations, but also from independent experts, research findings, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Eurojust, Europol, the European Anti-Corruption Network, Member States, Eurobarometer surveys and civil society.

Implementation of existing instruments

The Commission urges the EU countries to transpose all European legislation against corruption in the private sector into their national law and to ensure that it is applied properly.

It also asks the Member States that have not already done so to ratify the existing international anti-corruption instruments: the Criminal Law Convention and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Convention.

The Commission also intends to enhance cooperation with those international authorities and will request EU participation in the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) created within the Council of Europe.

Focus on corruption in EU policies

Anti-corruption should be an integral part of all relevant EU policies, both internal and external.

Internally, the Commission intends in particular to strengthen judicial and police cooperation in the field of corruption, in collaboration with Europol, Eurojust, the European Police College (CEPOL) and OLAF. It also aims to improve the training of law enforcement officials in this field.

The Commission will also propose modernised EU rules on confiscation of criminal assets to ensure that courts in Member States are able to effectively confiscate and recover criminal assets, including in cases involving corruption. Because corruption is often linked to money laundering, the Commission will present a strategy in 2012 to strengthen the quality of criminal financial investigations. Lastly, to gain a better measure of the extent of corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures, an Action Plan to improve statistics on crime and criminal justice is under preparation.

The Commission will also focus on modernising EU rules governing public procurement, accounting standards and statutory audit for EU companies. It has also adopted an Anti-Fraud Strategy against fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union.

Externally, the Commission will continue to focus strongly on the monitoring of anti-corruption policies in candidate countries and potential candidates for EU accession. It plans to make this fight a key aspect of the support given by the EU to countries participating in the Neighbourhood Policy. With regard to cooperation and development policies, the Commission promotes greater use of the conditionality principle, i.e. making compliance with international anti-corruption standards a condition of cooperation and development assistance.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council of 6 June 2011 on the modalities of European Union participation in the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) [COM (2011) 307 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

of 28 September 2011 setting up the Group of Experts on Corruption [OJ C 286 of 30.9.2011].
The task of this Group of Experts is to advise the Commission on all matters relating to corruption and, in particular, to assist it in producing the EU Anti-Corruption Report.