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
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
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
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.