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Lobbying starts to pay! Social security and French Resident crew members; 1st battle won!

Yes? No? Yes? No? There has been a lot of concern again these last months about the final application, or not, of article 31 of the Social Security Financing Act 2016, following the publication in the Official Journal of the French Republic on 11 March 2017 of the Application Decree n°2017-307 dated 9 March 2017.

In accordance with the above regulation, Employers had until 1 July 2017 in order to conform to the new requirements. In short and to make things simple;the new regulation rendered it compulsory for seafarers residing in France and working on vessels flying non-French flags, to register with the French national Social Security regime unless they could prove that they were registered for social security in another country which had signed a Bilateral Agreement on social security with France.
 
Once again France had published a new regulation without having studied the details of how the implementation would work in practice, and without having studied the dramatic consequences deriving from these new measures, which sparked a real wave of panic amongst the global yachting industry and which resulted in several yachts leaving or threatening to leave France for more lenient countries.
 
ECPY, with the great and strong support from the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) along with a number of Shipyards and Yacht Managers decided to take the bull by the horns in order to avoid a real exodus. Together they attacked the Decree in front of the Council of State “Conseil D’Etat” in May 2017 which surprisingly did not produce the desired effect.
 
But being stubborn pays and lobbying starts to pay!  Articles in the press, news, websites, and with global pressure from major industry players etc…and several meetings organised with the French Ministries concerned and especially the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Social Affairs and the Prime Minister’s office since March 2017, have finally led to a positive outcome.
 
The good news: The Prime Minister confirmed this week that the provisions of art 31 of the Social Security Financing Act 2016 and Application Decree n°2017-307 shall be amended as far as yachting is concerned. 

What does this mean? For now, this means that employer’s should not have to register French resident seafarers for social security or pay French social charges in France. This still needs to be confirmed in writing though. Same for the exclusion of private yachts as this was initially confirmed but ENIM published the contrary on their website.

What is next? Seafarers will imminently have the right to opt in with ENIM (the French Social regime) and other regimes which are yet to be determined. These new provisions shall be negotiated over the coming weeks and months and shall be published in the Social Security Finance Act for 2018. The industry is hoping that when the vote is cast around November 2017, that private social covers in line with MLC will be accepted and part of the options.
 
SO FOR NOW: NO CHANGES. The Authorities have confirmed that they are not planning to carry out any controls on yachts until the new provisions are published.
 
The situation stills needs to be closely monitored until a moratorium or new and clear provisions are published as it may well continue to have a major impact on the yachting industry. If the new social security solutions proposed by the Authorities are less favorable than the ones accepted in other popular yachting jurisdictions, it may still lead to yachts avoiding French national and French resident crew members.  
 
Another battle will start now. ECPY along with other local yachting associations will continue to fight until a suitable solution is found and voted in favour of the French Yachting Industry.
 
As member of the Board of Directors of ECPY and member of the special committee created to work on social and tax matters, Janet Xanthopoulos from Rosemont Yacht Services will keep you up dated on any developments. 

For more information, please contact Janet Xanthopoulos at j.xanthopoulos@rosemont-yacht.com


13/09/2017

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