I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter. My Department, with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has been working closely with the Commission and DG Competition since November 2017 through the Irish-EU technical working group on state aid. The objective of the group is to scope and design schemes to support enterprises impacted by Brexit in line with state aid rules. This includes exploring all opportunities under EU Regulation No. 1407/2013, the de minimis regulation. Much has been achieved by this working group, including the development of the future growth loan scheme under the general block exemption regulation and the expansion of Ireland's rescue and restructuring scheme to include temporary liquidity aid and increase its budget to €200 million. We have fully utilised the provisions of the state aid framework to enable the investment by Enterprise Ireland of €74 million in Brexit-impacted businesses in 2018.
The group is working closely with DG Agriculture and Rural Development to explore the range of opportunities under the agriculture and forestry state aid guidelines. As part of that, state aid approval was received in February for capital investment by Enterprise Ireland in an Irish cheese producing company, Carbery Food Ingredients Limited, to help it towards financing a €65 million diversification project to mitigate the impacts of Brexit. The future growth loan scheme, along with the Brexit loan scheme, which was launched in 2018 and is operated under the de minimis regulation, and the temporary restructuring support will provide a stabilisation package for enterprises impacted by Brexit with a view to allowing them to transform and grow.
On 24 January, I met the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, at my Department. The meeting focused on the severe challenges that Irish businesses would face as a result of Brexit and the need for appropriate and timely State supports. It was agreed that Irish officials would continue to work closely with the Commissioner's team in addressing any state aid issues that may arise, including the de minimis regulation, to ensure a rapid and appropriate response as the ultimate shape of Brexit and its firm-level implications become known. The Commissioner emphasised that the Commission stood ready to act urgently in mitigation against the impacts of Brexit on Irish firms. My officials have since met DG Competition as part of the technical working group and we are looking at a number of areas, including opportunities under the de minimis regulation.