Select Committee on Agriculture Memoranda

Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (T19)

  1.  The Select Committee asked for a note of any information the Ministry has on aid packages for the fishing industry in other EU Member States.

  2.  In the time available it has not been possible to obtain detailed information from the Governments of the Member States concerned. The following reflects our understanding of the position, but may not be comprehensive.

  3.  The information relates to specific measures for the fishing industry taken by Member States in response to the oil price increases last year and to the the fish stock recovery plans this spring. It does not deal with the measures being introduced by all Member States under the fisheries Structural Fund (FIFG) for the period 2000-06.

  4.  The measures are subject to approval by the European Commission under its guidelines for State Aids. The Commission has started formal proceedings in respect of the Spanish and French measures introduced last year. The UK made representations to the Commission about these aids, arguing that they should be considered incompatible with the state aid guidelines because of the distorting effect that operating aids can have on competition in the fisheries sector, and because they were likely to be damaging the future sustainability of the fishing industry.


  5.   France announced a package of measures in September 2000, estimated by the French industry to be worth approximately £19 million. It comprised exemption, total or partial, from social security charges for fishermen, as well as relief from port charges.

  6.  Following the instigation of formal proceedings by the Commission in respect of this package it was announced in February 2001 that the aids would be terminated.

  7.   Belgium announced in September a package of measures with an estimated budget of £80,000. It comprised deferral of social security payments by up to three months, together with subsidised loans.

  8.   Spain announced a package of measures in October, including reductions in employers' and employees' social security contributions, and five year subsidised loans of up to a total of £26 million.

  9.  The Netherlands announced provision of about £8 million for 2000, including £3 million for a reduction in social security payments, £3 million for decommissioning of vessels and over £1 million on promotion of sustainable fishing. A further £8 million was announced for each of the years 2001-04 for longer term measures to promote sustainable fishing, protect the environment and reduce fuel use.

  10.  The Irish Government announced a £3 million fish quality assurance scheme and a £1 million fuel efficiency grant scheme, to support vessel management systems including trawl monitoring, and improved insulation on board.


  11.  The Netherlands has announced a tie-up scheme for the period March to August 2001. Vessels of over 300hp would receive payments of about £22,000 from a fund of £5 million drawn from the provision referred to in paragraph 9.

  12.   Belgium announced aid under a tie-up scheme for the period 1 March to 30 April. Vessel owners could receive daily payments, for up to 20 days, at a rate between about £2 to £3 per gross tonne, depending on the capacity of the vessel. Fishermen unemployed during the period could receive about £18 per day for a maximum of 20 days.

May 2001

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