News: State aid: Commission adopts amendment to rules on small amounts of aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector

Union for the Mediterranean Database

The European Commission has adopted today an amendment of the so-called 'de minimis' regulation for the fishery and aquaculture sector (‘Fishery de minimis Regulation'). The revised regulation, which exempts small aid amounts from State aid control since they are deemed to have no impact on competition and trade in the Single Market, will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal.

The proposed amendments

In December 2022, the Commission prolonged the validity of the Fishery de minimis Regulation by one year (i.e. until 31 December 2023) to finalise an ongoing reflection as to whether the processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products should no longer be included in the Fishery de minimis Regulation but rather fall under the General de minimis Regulation. The General de minimis Regulation provides for a higher aid ceiling than the Fishery one. 

The amendment to the Fishery de minimis Regulation adopted today includes the following changes:

  • The increase in the de minimis aid ceiling per company over three years, from €30,000 to €40,000, subject to the establishment of a central national register.
  • Only the primary production of fishery and aquaculture products will remain covered by the Fishery de minimis Regulation, whereas the processing and marketing of such products will be covered by the General de minimis Regulation.
  • The recalculation of the so-called ‘national caps', i.e., the maximum cumulative amounts of de minimis aid that can be allocated per Member State. The national caps were updated based on more recent data relating to the primary production of fishery and aquaculture products only.
  • Certain operations excluded from the scope of the Fishery de minimis Regulation will exceptionally be allowed for the EU's outermost regions, to facilitate the modernisation of small vessels and address, among other things, safety concerns in these regions. This is one example of the targeted measures for the outermost regions under Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
  • The extension of the validity of the revised Fishery de minimis Regulation until 31 December 2029.

Background on the review process

The Commission started its review of the de minimis rules for the fishery and aquaculture sector in 2019 with the publication of an evaluation roadmap. The evaluation of the State aid framework for that sector was run back-to-back with an impact assessment to gather further evidence on the areas for improvement. The review process included public consultations, as well as discussions with interested parties and national authorities. In particular, in January 2022, the Commission invited all interested parties to comment on the amendment of the Fishery de minimis Regulation. The Member States were also consulted at meetings in March and September 2022 and May 2023.

In December 2022, the Commission adopted a package of revised State aid rules relating to the agriculture, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors. As regards fisheries, the Commission adopted a new block exemption regulation (Regulation (EU) 2022/2473), endorsed new sectoral guidelines (Guidelines for State aid in the fishery and aquaculture sector, later adopted on 17 March 2023) and prolonged by one year the Fishery de minimis Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2022/2514).

For More Information

See the dedicated webpages of DG Competition for the fisheries sector and the review process, which contain all stakeholder contributions submitted in the context of the evaluation and the impact assessment, summaries of the different consultation activities, and the Staff Working Document on the evaluation.


News Posted on 13/10/2023