Nieuwsbericht | 22-06-2006
Brussels, 22 June 2006
The European Commission has today adopted a draft Regulation on de minimis aid in the fisheries sector. De minimis aid is state aid deemed not to distort competition. Under the new Regulation, which would apply only to the fisheries sector, the ceiling would be set at € 30 000 per three-year period, per beneficiary, on condition that the total amount of such aid represents less than 2.5% of the annual national fisheries output. None of this aid may be used to purchase or construct new vessels or to enhance existing fleet capacity. Member States have to record all relevant information to show that these conditions have been respected. The draft Regulation will now go to Member States for consultation before returning to the Commission for adoption.
The current Regulation exempts national aid of up to € 3 000 per fisherman, over a period of three years, from prior notification to the Commission. This level was set very low as the Commission did not have any previous experience of such aid in the fishing industry. In light of experience gained, the Commission now wishes to review the measures in force for fisheries.
In the fishing industry, the catching sector remains the dominant one and is likely to be the main recipient of de minimis aid. The ceiling of € 3 000 is estimated as being too low, given the high capital value of average EU fishing firms.
In line with the Common Fisheries Policy's objective of reaching a better balance between the fishing fleet capacity and available fisheries resources, the provisions of the proposed Regulation will not apply to any aid that would risk increasing fleet capacity such as for the purchase, construction or modernisation of fishing vessels. The changes proposed are also in line with the Action Plan on State aid that the Commission tabled recently.
In accordance with the procedure applying to the setting of de minimis aid, the Commission will now consult the Advisory Committee on state aid, and will subsequently publish the draft Regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union for consultation of interested parties.