I propose to take Questions Nos. 9, 39, 40, 53 and 70 together.
As I announced recently, following discussions with the Minister for Finance, I have secured agreement in principle, for the introduction of an emergency aid scheme for the fishing industry. The scheme is intended to alleviate the exceptional and unique difficulties which have been experienced by the catching sector over recent months and especially by fishing vessel crew members many of whom have not had any employment during this period.
The aims of the scheme, which will be administered by BIM, are to deal with genuine hardships and to secure the ongoing viability of the industry through ensuring that crews continue to be available to work in the industry.
The precise details of the scheme are at present being finalised in consultation with other relevant Departments. I expect, however, to be in a position to make a more detailed announcement on the matter shortly.
With regard to the possibility of Community aid to help address the hardship experienced by fishermen, I regret to say that the initial response from the Commission has not been encouraging. The Commission took the view that current Community regulations do not provide for the kind of financial assistance required in this instance.
I have, nevertheless, continued to pursue the matter of Community aid, both in bilateral discussions with the Commissioner for Fisheries, Mr. Paleokrassas, and at the Council of Ministers where I raised the matter yesterday. While there are no funds earmarked for aid of this nature, the Commission will consider further in discussions with the Department of the Marine if any basis for Union aid can be found.