Brussels approves EUR 100 million in Brexit support for French seafood sector
Three schemes worth a total EUR 100 million (USD 119.6 million) have been approved by the European Commission under E.U. state aid rules to support those in France’s fisheries sector impacted by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the E.U., as well as the consequent quota share reductions foreseen in the provisions of the E.U.-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
These are the first support measures approved in the context of inter-institutional discussions on the proposed Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), the commission confirmed.
In a statement, E.U. Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said that the fisheries sector is one of the most affected by Brexit, requiring fishermen and downstream market operators in affected member states to “reorganize and adapt” to the new situation.
“The three French schemes approved today, with a total budget of EUR 100 million, are the first measures to support the sector in the context of the proposed Brexit Adjustment Reserve. We will continue to work closely with all member states concerned to enable swift and effective solutions to mitigate the impact of Brexit, in line with state aid rules,” she said.
Last month, France notified to the commission, under E.U. state aid rules, of three schemes that would support its fisheries sector affected by the consequences of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U.
The first scheme, with a total budget of EUR 80 million (USD 95.7 million), is dedicated to partially compensating the fixed costs of the vessels forced to stay at berth due to the quota reductions envisaged in the TCA, the lack of access to U.K. waters or other third-country waters due to Brexit, as well as the remuneration of crewmembers.
It applies to the period between 1 January, 2021 to 30 June, 2021, and may be extended until 31 December, 2021, and takes the form of direct grants to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the fisheries sector.
With a total budget of EUR 12 million (USD 14.3 million), the second scheme aims at compensating part of the loss of revenues suffered by the French fishing fleet from 1 January to 31 March, 2021, and is meant to increase the resilience of the sector. The loss of revenues is mainly due to quota reductions envisaged in the TCA, lack of access to U.K. waters or other third-country waters, and to mitigate negative impacts on trade patterns and logistics.
The third scheme, with a budget of EUR 8 million (USD 9.6 million), aims at compensating part of the loss of revenues for the same reasons suffered by French fishmongers from 1 January to 31 March, 2021. This support will take the form of direct grants to SMEs and large enterprises active in the wholesale and processing of fish, crustaceans, and molluscs.
All three schemes will be open for applications until 31 December, 2022.
The commission determined that the three schemes enhance the sustainability of the fisheries sector and its ability to adapt to new fishing and market opportunities arising from the new relationship with the U.K., and also that they “constitute an appropriate form of support” in order to facilitate an orderly transition Brexit.
These measures facilitate the development of the sector and contribute to the first objective of the E.U. Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities are environmentally sustainable in the long term, it said.
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