The Committee of the Regions (CoR) prepared an own-initiative opinion on state aid for fisheries and aquaculture, currently subject to a review. This opinion aims at complementing the public consultation held by the European Commission (from 25/03/2013 to 17/06/2013) having in view to put forth regions view on the state-aid reform on fisheries and aquaculture.
In the framework of public consultation , the EC incorporated in the Draft Guidelines for the examination of State aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector the CoR recommendation "that reform of the State Aid regulations for fisheries and aquaculture must be undertaken on the basis of supporting and facilitating delivery of the reform of the CFP as a fundamental underlying principle".
The new guidelines insist on the need for all applicants to respect the rules of the CFP, recalling that sanctions (temporary or definitive ineligibility) are anticipated by the EMFF regulation, with the exception of aid granted in the event of a natural disaster. The Commission also recalls that no aid will be considered as compatible if it relates to operations deemed ineligible under the EMFF, no more than export aid will.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- emphasises that the sustainability of the fisheries sector means the long-term viability and durability of the fishing stocks within EU waters, and the socio-economic future of the fishing communities across the EU;
- calls for strong prioritisation to be given in the preparation of the Partnership Agreements and future Operational Programmes for the ESIFs to support coastal and fishing communities;
- underlines the importance of efficiently targeting aid to small-scale fleets which account for the majority of the total EU fleet in terms of vessel numbers;
- notes that shifting the support for onshore activities of the fisheries processing and sustainable aquaculture sectors into the general de minimis regulation would enable such measures to benefit from higher intervention thresholds of that regulation (currently EUR 200 000), helping to overcome barriers to investments in the onshore economy, and contributing to the desired aim of maximising the potential "added value" to the local fishing communities of fish products;
- calls on the European Commission to ensure that there is no scope through either of the State Aid regulations (nor through the EMFF) to support unsustainable fishing practices;