The European Commission has adopted a Temporary State Aid Framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, in accordance with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaties. This recognises that the entire EU economy is experiencing a serious disturbance. The Temporary Framework is in place until 31st December 2021 and complements the possibilities for Member States to design other support measures in line with existing EU state aid rules.
Any aid scheme under the Temporary Framework requires a State Aid Notification to the Commission, unlike conventional deminimis aid. For the fisheries and aquaculture sector, the Temporary Framework allows aid of up to €270,000 to individual beneficiaries. While a broad scope of aid is allowed, the categories referred to in Article 1 of the Fisheries Deminimis Regulation are not allowed.
It is important to understand that the Temporary Framework is just a simplified mechanism for obtaining State Aid approval. No European Union funds are made available under the Temporary Framework. Any aid would have to be provided by the Government of Ireland.
To date, it has not been necessary to notify the European Commission of any proposal to use the Temporary Framework for the seafood sector. This is because the European Union amended the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Regulation in 2020 to assist Member States in supporting seafood producers impacted by the Pandemic through their EMFF Operational Programmes. In 2020, Ireland used the amended EMFF provisions to implement the Covid-19 support schemes sought by representatives of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, namely a Covid-19 Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme for fishers and a Covid-19 Aquaculture Support Scheme for oyster and rope mussel producers. Unlike aid under the Temporary Framework, these two Covid-19 schemes were co-funded by the European Union.