European Fisheries Fund
This Regulation establishes a new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for the period 2007-13. It sets the Fund’s objectives and priorities plus the responsibilities under it and the financial framework. It also sets out the arrangements for programming, managing monitoring and following up the EFF. The new Fund provides financial assistance to help implement the 2002 reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and to support the restructuring that has become necessary as the sector has developed.
Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006 of 27 July 2006 on the European Fisheries Fund.
The European Fisheries Fund (EFF) shall contribute to realising the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) objectives, which specifically consist of ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. In order to achieve this, the Fund shall provide financial support aimed at:
- ensure the long-term future of fishing activities and the sustainable use of fishery resources;
- reduce pressure on stocks by matching EU fleet capacity to available;
- promote the sustainable development of inland fishing;
- help boost economically viable enterprises in the fisheries sector and make operating structures more competitive;
- foster the protection of the environment and the conservation of marine resources;
- encourage sustainable development and improve the quality of life in areas with an active fishing industry;
- promote equality between women and men active in the fisheries sector.
The EFF provides for five priorities:
- measures to adapt the EU fishing fleet: financial assistance can be granted to fishermen and fishing vessel owners affected by the measures taken to combat overfishing or to protect public health to help them temporarily or permanently lay up fishing vessels and to train, re-skill and provide early retirement to fishermen. Vessels that are permanently laid up, in addition to those already due for scrapping, may be reused for other non-fishing activities or for the creation of artificial reefs. The EFF may contribute to improving working conditions, the quality of products, energy yield and catch selectivity. It may also contribute towards replacing engines, providing non-renewable compensation to fishermen affected by permanent cessation of fishing activities and for premiums for young fishermen to buy their first fishing vessel. However, financial assistance may in no circumstances lead to an increase in the catch capacity or the power of the fishing vessel’s engine;
- aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing:
the EFF promotes the purchase and use of gear and methods that reduce the impact of aquaculture production on the environment and improve the quality of produce and conditions in terms of human and animal health. Assistance will be limited to micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as certain large enterprises with less than 750 employees or whose turnover is less than EUR 200 million. Priority is nevertheless given to micro and small enterprises;
- collective action:
certain collective action could receive aid from the EFF on the condition that they contribute to the sustainable development or conservation of resources, to improving the services offered by fishing ports, to strengthening markets in fishery products and to promoting partnerships between scientists and operators in the fisheries sector;
- sustainable development of fishing areas: the EFF supports measures and initiatives aimed at diversifying and strengthening economic development in areas affected by the decline in fishing activities.
- technical assistance: the Fund may finance initiatives involving preparations, monitoring, administrative and technical support, evaluation, audit and checks needed to implement this Regulation.
One of the main objectives of the EFF is to simplify the allocation and management of funding. Member States must send the Commission a strategic plan and an operational programme in order to benefit from assistance under the European Fisheries Fund.
The national strategic plans must set out the national priorities and objectives to implement the CFP. The Commission will organise a debate with Member States by 31 December 2011 to assess the progress made in implementing the strategic plans on the basis of the conclusions of intermediary assessments.
The strategic plans form a basis for the development of operational programmes, which will implement the policies and priorities to be co-financed by the EFF. The Commission approves the operational programmes by issuing a decision, after having checked that they are in line with the objectives of the EFF. If necessary, it may require that the operational programmes be modified.
The operational programmes are subjected to three assessments. Member States are responsible for forecast and interim assessments whilst the Commission carries out the final assessment. The part of the budget reserved for technical assistance may be used to finance these assessments.
The Regulation defines the responsibilities of the Member States and of the Commission concerning the EFF. In particular, Member States are tasked with informing the general public, potential beneficiaries and stakeholders of the opportunities available under the EFF to ensure that the Fund is used in a transparent manner and to underline the role of the EU.
The EFF has a budget of €4 304 million for the period 2007-13. Over that period the Commission proposes to allocate on average €615 million per year to the Member States who have decided to benefit from EFF aid (all the Member States except for Luxembourg).
The amounts are divided between the Member States according to the size of their fisheries sector, the number of people working in the sector, the adjustments considered necessary for the fishing industry and continuity of the measures in hand.
Except for certain expenditure incurred by the Commission that is 100% covered by the EFF, the maximum contribution of the EFF is always calculated as a proportion of the total sum of all public expenditure. It varies according to the priority of the initiative and will be higher for the most disadvantaged regions and for the new Member States, i.e. those covered by the new “convergence” objective under the Structural Funds. The intensity of public aid authorised for each operation financed also varies according to the same parameters (see Annex II to the Regulation).
The Regulation sets the rules governing eligibility of expenditure (Article 55), financial management, financial corrections, budgetary appropriations and reimbursement. It establishes a Committee of the European Fisheries Fund to assist the Commission in managing the EFF.
Management, monitoring and control
Each Member State must appoint the following bodies before requests for payment can be submitted:
- a managing authority for the programme to select and monitor initiatives to be financed;
- a certification authority to verify that expenditure complies with EU rules;
- an audit authority to verify the proper functioning of the managing and certification authorities;
- a monitoring committee, which a representative of the Commission participates in for advisory purposes and which assesses progress in reaching the objectives of the operational programme.
Each year the managing authorities must send the Commission an annual report, to which the Commission replies with its comments. The Commission summarises these reports in its annual report which it sends to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. The Member States must also send a final report on the implementation of the operational programme before 31 March 2017.
The EFF is the new instrument for fisheries programming under the Financial Perspective for the EU for the 2007-13 period, replacing the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG).
Like the other European Funds, the EFF reflects the principles of the new approach for simplification, transparency, strategic planning and greater responsibility for the Member States in selecting and implementing the Funds. The EFF is one of two instruments for expenditure incurred under the CFP.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006||4.9.2006||–||OJ L 223 of 15.8.2006|
De minimis aid for the fisheries sector
This regulation replaces the fisheries sector rules on de minimis aid in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1860/2004, which had established those rules for the agriculture and fisheries sectors.
Commission Regulation (EC) No 875/2007 of 24 July 2007 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to de minimis aid in the fisheries sector and amending Regulation (EC) No 1860/2004.
Article 87(1) of the Treaty establishing the European Community stipulates that, save as otherwise provided in the Treaty, State aid in any form whatsoever is incompatible with the common market, as it may distort competition.
However, Article 2 of Council Regulation (EC) No 994/98 states that the Commission may decide that certain aids do not meet all the criteria of Article 87. These aids are therefore exempted from the notification procedure.
Therefore, in the same way that the Commission in 2001 adopted the general de minimis Regulation (Commission Regulation (EC) No 69/2001) for all economic sectors other than the transport, agriculture and fisheries sectors, it adopted a joint de minimis Regulation for agriculture and fisheries in 2004 (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1860/2004) and has now adopted one specific to the fisheries sector.
De minimis ceiling
The de minimis ceiling for the fisheries sector is set at EUR 30 000 per three-year period and per beneficiary, on condition that the total amount of such aid granted to undertakings is below 2.5% of the national annual production of the sector.
De minimis aid must be transparent aid, in other words aid for which it is possible to calculate precisely in advance the gross grant equivalent without the need to undertake a risk assessment. This is why aid in the form of capital injections or risk capital measures is not transparent aid if the capital injection is above the de minimis ceiling.
The Regulation applies to all undertakings active in the production, processing and marketing of fisheries products.
The Regulation does not apply to:
- aid of an amount that is fixed on the basis of price or quantity of products put on the market;
- aid favouring export-related activities;
- aid contingent upon the use of domestic over imported goods;
- aid granted to undertakings in difficulty with a view to their rescuing or their restructuring;
- aid serving to increase fishing capacity, except for aid for modernisation over the main deck;
- aid for the purchase or construction of fishing vessels.
Any Member State who grants de minimis aid must strictly monitor the aid granted.
It must inform the beneficiary in writing of the amount of this aid. It must also obtain from the undertaking, before the aid is granted, a declaration on other de minimis aid received in the previous two fiscal years and in the fiscal year concerned.
However, where a Member State has set up a central register of de minimis aid for the fisheries sector containing all the requested information, the above conditions shall no longer apply. To this end, the register must cover a period of three fiscal years.
The Member State may grant the aid to the undertaking in question only if this does not raise the total amount above the ceiling set for the fiscal period concerned.
Furthermore, Members States must record and compile all the information to allow the Commission to establish that the conditions of this Regulation have been complied with. The records are to be maintained for ten fiscal years. On written request from the Commission, the Member States must provide the Commission with all the information that the Commission considers necessary.
|Act||Entry into force – Date of expiry||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Regulation (EC) No 875/2007||31.12.2013||–||OJ L 193 of 25.7.2007|