Council backed rules to help EU fishermen

The Council adopted in a written procedure on Wednesday new rules amending two regulations, intended to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the fishery and aquaculture sector. The revamped regulation will be published in the EU Official Journal probably on 24 April and will enter into force on the following day.

They introduce support in relation to the temporary cessation of fishing activities with a maximum co-financing rate of 75 % of eligible public expenditure, but also as regards the temporary suspension or reduction of aquaculture production and sales. Other new measures are inclusion of fishermen on foot as eligible for support in case of temporary cessation, derogation for temporary cessation for new vessels and flexibility in order to use 10% of the budgetary funds allocated to Union Priority 3.

Also new is the option for granting working capital and compensating the reduction of sales and additional storage costs for aquaculture farmers and processors and provisions for Outermost regions adapted to deal with the consequences of the crisis.

In relation to storage, the new rules also provide for support to producer organisations and associations of producer organisations for the storage of fishery and aquaculture products. The quantities eligible for storage aid will be increased to 25 % of the annual quantities of the products concerned.

In addition, an amendment to the Common market organisation regulation makes possible the resort to the storage mechanism if member states have not set and published trigger prices. It also allows aquaculture producer organisations to benefit from the storage mechanism. The expenditure for the operations supported under these new measures will be eligible as of 1 February 2020.

During its plenary session on 17 April, MEPs approved financial assistance for hard-hit fishing communities and aquaculture farmers and negotiated with the Council the proposal in an urgent manner.

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