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European Commission approves 20 million Irish scheme for aquaculture sector in the context of Brexit

IFA Aquaculture welcome the announcement of the approval by the EU Commission of a 20m scheme for Irish Aquaculture. This scheme, funded by the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund, is long overdue and needs to be administered as soon as possible.

The Aquaculture sector is the only food producing sector without direct grant widely available currently, and this 20m funded scheme needs to be opened to allow Aquaculture producers to make plans for future investment. Given the input costs crisis and rising inflation over the past few months, investment opportunities are becoming ever more difficult and those who are willing to take on investment projects must be supported.

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, the 20 million Irish scheme. It is aimed at mitigating the adverse impact on employment in the coastal communities, by supporting the development of an alternative source of raw material supply for seafood processors and by enhancing the viability of aquaculture companies.

The scheme will be open to aquaculture producers that will purchase and install new machinery and equipment, as well as construct new premises, with the aim of increasing the production, enhancing the quality of the aquaculture products or substantially increasing energy efficiency.

Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants, covering up to 50% of the actual investment costs. The scheme will run until 31 December 2023. The measure is planned to be financed under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, established to mitigate the economic and social impact of Brexit, subject to approval under the specific provisions governing funding from that instrument.

The Commission assessed the measures under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities or areas under certain conditions, and under the Guidelines for the examination of State aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector.

The Commission found that the scheme facilitates the development of an economic activity and does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. On this basis, the Commission approved the Irish measure under EU State aid rules.