The members of the European Parliament (EP) in the Fisheries Committee adopted their position on a Commission proposal to financially compensate European Union (UE) fisheries and aquaculture hit by Russia’s war in Ukraine, unanimously with 24 votes. There will be aid to compensate for lost income and additional expenses resulting from the war.
This draft negotiating position should be submitted to the plenary vote in July. Once Parliament as a whole has approved it, MEPs will be ready to start talks with EU governments on the final shape of the legislation.
Following the vote, EP rapporteur Nuno Melo (European People’s Party, Christian Democrats, EPP, PT) said: “The report calls for specific measures to alleviate the market disruption to the seafood supply chain caused by the Russian aggression. The EU must take urgent action to mitigate the impact of the war, and ensure the survival of companies and jobs in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.”
Economic viability is threatened
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), according to the text adopted by MEPs, would support companies whose fishing operations have been jeopardized by the war, and fisheries and aquaculture producer organizations and operators whose economic viability is threatened due to market and supply chain problems caused by the Russian military aggression.
These include a rise in the price of energy, raw materials and fish feed. EU governments would be able to use their remaining European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) resources for the 2014-20 programming period to address the war consequences in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
Schemes to provide state aid
MEPs amended the proposal to extend the compensation also to those companies whose economic viability has been impacted by the conflict and to the processing sector. 75% of co-financing from the Fund would cover their lost income and additional costs caused by disruption to supply chains after the start of the war on 24 February 2022.
Besides financial compensation, member states would also be allowed to use the state aid rules more flexibly. This would enable them to set up schemes to provide state aid to fisheries and aquaculture companies affected by the crisis.
The issue of the fuel prices
In useful to know that in 2019, the EU fishing fleet totaled 73,983 vessels, providing direct employment to 129,540 fishers. Aquaculture employs around 75,000 people, with the processing industry comprising around 3,500 companies. Fuel prices are preventing fishing operators from breaking even and the scarcity of marine fuel keeps many vessels in port. Furthermore, there is a lack of sufficient alternatives for species such as Alaska pollack and Russian cod and the lack of vegetable oil is causing serious difficulties for the canning industry.
Multiannual Financial Framework
Is important to remember that each Member State have prepares a Partnership Agreement in cooperation with the European Commission (EC). This is a strategic document for programming investments from the cohesion policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework. It focuses on EU priorities, laying down the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State. It also presents a list of national and regional programs for implementation on the ground, as well as the indicative annual financial allocation for each program.
Until now, the CE has signed Partnership Agreement for the 2021-2027 funding period with Denmark, Greece, Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Finland, France, Czechia, Sweden and Italy, among others. All the countries that have signed the Agreement will dedicate millions of its EMFAF to improve resource efficiency and competitiveness of SMEs in the aquaculture sector and in the protection and restoration of biodiversity, through innovation and development of selective fishing gear and river restoration. Fisheries and aquaculture industries are part of the green transition.