Europe orders France, Belgium to end port tax breaks

The European Commission has ordered France and Belgium to end tax breaks for ports, saying they distort competition in the 28-nation European Union.

The European Union's executive arm said in a statement Thursday that corporate tax exemptions granted to many French and Belgian ports "provide them with a selective advantage, in breach of EU state aid rules."

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says that "unjustified corporate tax exemptions for ports distort the level playing field and fair competition. They must be removed."

The Commission last year issued a similar order to the Netherlands.

France and Belgium must ensure that from Jan. 1, 2018, their ports are subject to the same corporate tax regime as other companies.