European Commission approves €10 million Irish support measure for fishery sector in the context of Brexit
The European Commission approved today, under EU State aid rules, a €10 million Irish scheme to support the fishery sector affected by the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, and the consequent quota share reductions foreseen in the provisions of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and the UK.
The support will be available to companies that commit to temporarily cease their fishing activities for a month. The aim of the scheme is to save part of the Irish reduced fishing quota for other vessels, while the beneficiaries temporarily suspend their activities. The compensation will be granted as a non-refundable grant, calculated on the basis of gross earnings averaged for the fleet size, excluding the cost of fuel and food for the crew of the vessel. Each eligible company will be entitled to the support for up to a month in the period between 1 October to 31 December 2021.
The Commission assessed the measures under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities or regions, under certain conditions.The Commission found that the measure enhances the sustainability of the fishery sector and its ability to adapt to new fishing and market opportunities arising from the new relationship with the UK. Therefore, the measure facilitates the development of this sector and contributes to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities are environmentally sustainable in the long term. The Commission concluded that the measure constitutes an appropriate form of support in order to facilitate an orderly transition in the EU fishery sector following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU State aid rules.
Today's decision does not prejudge whether the support measure will eventually be eligible for Brexit Adjustment Reserve ‘BAR’ funding, which will be assessed once the BAR Regulation has entered into force. However, it already provides Ireland with legal certainty that the Commission considers the support measure to be compliant with EU State aid rules, irrespective of the ultimate source of funding. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64035 in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue today announced the launch of a Brexit Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme. The scheme will help mitigate the impacts of quota cuts on the fishing fleet arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed in December between the European Union and the UK. The scheme delivers on a recommendation of the Seafood Sector Task Force in its June 2021 Interim Report. The scheme is targeted at white fish vessels in the Polyvalent and Beam Trawl segments.
The Minister said: “Arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the UK, Ireland is set to lose 26,412 tonnes of quota per year on a phased basis up to 2026, valued at around €43 million. These quota cuts affect many of our most valuable fish stocks and have significant impacts for incomes in our fishing fleet in 2021. The Task Force I established in March has carefully considered this issue and recommended in its June 2021 Interim Report that a temporary fleet tie-up scheme should be implemented for the whitefish fleet to make best use of the reduced quota available in 2021 and to ensure continuity of supply throughout the remainder of this year”.
The Minister went on to say: “The scheme I am launching today will invite vessels in the polyvalent and beam trawl segments to tie-up for a one-month period during October to December 2021. These vessels would tie-up at the quayside and cease all fishing activity for that month. In return, the vessel owner would receive a payment compensating for the lost fishing income. The vessel owners will in turn be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew. The following payment rates will apply”.
The Scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and further details will be available from BIM in due course at https://bim.ie/fisheries/funding/