The European Commission is referring Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not properly applying the rules on fiscal marking on fuel

The Irish Sailing Association has hit back at a decision by the European Commission (EC) to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not properly applying the rules on fiscal marking on fuel.

The ISA says the cost involved and the return in creating a network of ‘white diesel’ suppliers would not be viable and the outcome ‘would make leisure sailing inaccessible or at the very least unsafe’ say the ISA

Under EU rules on fiscal marking for fuels, fuel that can benefit from a reduced tax rate has to be marked by coloured dye. Fishing vessels for example are allowed to benefit from fuel subject to a lower tax rate but private boats must use fuel subject to a standard rate.

The EC says that currently, Ireland breaches EU law by allowing the use of marked fuel for the purposes of private pleasure craft. As a consequence, private leisure boats cannot only use fuel intended for fishing vessels but also risk heavy penalties if they travel to another Member State and the boat is inspected by the local authorities.

Moreover, it cannot be considered that Ireland has properly implemented its obligation to apply a minimum level of taxation in accordance with Directive 2003/96/EC. While Irish law requires craft owners to pay to the Revenue the difference between the tax paid on marked gas oil and that due if the gas oil had been charged at the standard rate, the low number of tax returns indicate that the minimum level of taxation is not applied.


On 22 April 2014, the Commission sent a request taking the form of a reasoned opinion to Ireland on the subject in question (MEMO/14/293). The European Commission officially asked the Irish authorities to amend the relevant legislation. As there have been no changes to the legislation, the Commission has decided to bring the matter before the Court of Justice.

Irish Sailing Association statement

A spokesman for the ISA said:  ‘There is currently a network of “Marine Diesel” (Marked Diesel) suppliers throughout our coastline for fishing vessels and it will be an enormous and costly task to create a network of “white” diesel suppliers exclusively for leisure craft.

‘The cost involved and the return would not be viable for suppliers and the outcome would make leisure sailing inaccessible or at the very least unsafe.

‘This will result in leisure sailors filling up in local fuel stations and travelling with jerry cans of diesel in their vehicles, which is illegal.  The Irish Government created a system for all leisure sailors to register their consumption and pay tax directly to the Revenue.

‘The Irish Sailing Association would be gravely concerned if this system was changed and supply limited, as the result would seriously damage the leisure marine industry (which is currently a growing economy in Ireland) and potentially put people in danger from carriage of fuel cans in private vehicles.

‘The issue is not the colour of the diesel, but the payment of taxes and the Irish Sailing Association has received no reports from any boats travelling abroad having difficulties as a result of the green diesel in their tanks.’


Read more articles on marked fuel here: