By David Robinson

By the end of March a decision from the French Government about a new tax challenge relating to yachts cruising in the country’s 322 ‘managed marine areas is expected by ECPY (the European Committee for Professional Yachting). This is the view given to Superyacht Business by Thierry Voisin, the president of ECPY, an organisation which has been lobbying to prevent the introduction of the new tax.

The 322 ‘managed marine areas’  are spread right round the French coast and cover an area of 88,175 square kilometres which equates to 23.63% of French territorial waters. Inevitably they include a number of yacht cruising areas especially on the Atlantic coast where there are 173 sites and the Mediterranean coast has 33 plus 31 in Corsica.

Since first being mooted in January 2015 the attempts to introduce this new tax have gone back and forth. In a press statement ECPY said: “On January 20 the French Senate presented a bill to tax yachts in the 322 ‘managed marine areas. The fee would be collected by local authority administrations. By adopting amendment 163 the National Assembly rejected the bill recognising the serious impact it might have on the yachting industry.” In response to this, the statement explained, “the government has again put the bill on the agenda and filed a new amendment.”

Voisin explained to SB that the revised submission was, unfortunately for the superyacht sector, accepted by the Chamber of Deputies who passed the first reading of the law NOTRe. It now has to go the Senate for debate and amendment after which it will be returned to the Chamber of Deputies for a final decision. It is that  decision which is expected  by the end of March.

If approved, the new tax is proposed to be implemented in the summer of 2016 and in respect of yachts of any size the tax will be capped at €20 per day per linear metre. “”We have lost a battle but we have not lost the war,” Voisin commented. “It is evident that if the bill is passed by the French parliament it will be a disaster for yachting, replicating what happened in Sardinia between 2006 and 2009. The number of yachts cruising in that area dropped by 50% when similar law came into force. The law came in the boats left so there were fewer to tax.”

ECPY and especially Voisin, are known for taking on issues such this new tax and lobbying to fight such measures which potential inflict the well being of the yacht market in France and Europe. As part of this initiative ECPY has started a petition which can be accessed here.