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State aid in fishery and aquaculture

Overall state of play

Evaluation: finalised on 14 December 2022 (SWD(2022) 408).
Communication from the Commission: adopted; Fishery Block Exemption Regulation (FIBER) adopted on 14 December 2022.Guidelines for State aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector endorsed by the Commission on 14 December 2022.
Those two instruments are complemented by consolidated text: Commission Regulation (EU) No 717/2014 of 27 June 2014 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid in the fishery and aquaculture sector (Fishery ‘de minimis’ Regulation). On 14 December 2022, the Commission prolonged the validity of its so-called Fishery 'de minimis' Regulation for one year.

State of play, main conclusions, outlook

The Fishery Block Exemption Regulation (FIBER), adopted on 14 December 2022, declares specific categories of aid compatible with EU State aid rules and exempts them from the requirement of prior notification to and approval by the Commission, provided that they fulfil certain conditions. This enables Member States to quickly provide aid, where conditions limiting the distortion of competition in the Single Market are met. The rules laid down in the FIBER are complementary to those set out in the Guidelines applicable to the fishery and aquaculture sector, which set the conditions under which the Commission assesses whether State aid measures that are not block-exempted are compatible with the Single Market.

Estimated savings and benefits

The main changes to the FIBER include a significant extension of the scope of block-exempted measures. In particular:

• New categories of block-exempted measures, such as aid to prevent or repair damage caused by adverse climatic events in the fishery and aquaculture sector.

• Based on the experience gained by the Commission, the new rules block-exempt up to 50% of cases which before were subject to notification.

The revised Fisheries Guidelines introduce the following main changes:

• Broader scope of measures targeting animal diseases in aquaculture, allowing for aid to be granted for emerging animal diseases and certain invasive alien species.

• Introduction of new categories of aid, such as aid for fleet and cessation measures (in line with the EMFAF) and aid for investments in equipment that contributes to safety of fishing vessels in the Union's outermost regions. At the same time, it should be noted that capacity enhancement measures are unlikely to be approved.