On 16 November 2020, Irish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Chris MacManus of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“How much funding has been applied for and drawn down by Ireland under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted on 19 March 2020, which was put in place to support the fishery and aquaculture sectors?
How many fishers have availed of this funding under the terms of the scheme set by the Irish State and are any other schemes available for Irish fishers during the COVID-19 pandemic to avail of hardship funding?”
On 29 January 2021, Executive Vice-President Vestager responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “So far, Ireland has not submitted a notification under the state aid Temporary Framework for support measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic specifically for the fisheries sector.
Nevertheless, the Commission has approved several aid schemes notified by Ireland under the Temporary Framework which the fisheries sector may profit from, just like most other sectors of the Irish economy. In total, as of 11 January 2021, the Commission has approved ten schemes worth EUR 3.3 billion to support Irish businesses in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Commission does not receive from Member States a breakdown of payments per sector under general aid schemes from which it could deduct how much has been paid to the fisheries sector.
However, the payments made under these schemes will be subject to Member States’ annual reporting for 2020, which they have to submit in 2021. The Commission publishes the reporting of the Member States as part of the annual state aid scoreboard.
There are also other possibilities under state aid rules for Member States to provide support, including under aid categories provided for in the Guidelines for the examination of state aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector or in the block exemption regulation in the fishery and aquaculture sector. These are not, unlike the Temporary Framework, specific in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside state aid measures, following a recent amendment of Regulation (EU) No 508/2014, Ireland implemented a temporary cessation of fishing activities (tie-up) scheme and plans to introduce a support measure for the aquaculture sector to compensate the reduction of production and sales due to COVID-19.
Ireland will report on the implementation of these measures in their related Annual Implementation Report due by 31 May 2021.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/fishing-net-%C3%A5land-fish-water-1522538/