EU opens door for coronavirus-hit seafood operations to receive aid
Acknowledging that fishing and aquaculture have been “among the hardest hit” sectors by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission has introduced a temporary state aid framework that enables E.U. member states to provide financial support to affected operators.
Seafood demand across the bloc has declined dramatically in recent weeks as retailers, restaurants, canteens, and other large-scale buyers have been reducing or temporarily closing down their activities. At the same time, supply chains have been affected by various logistical disruptions.
The new framework allows member-states to provide aid up to EUR 120,000 (USD 130,476) per industry undertaking and can be in the form of grants or tax advantages, with the promise of swift assessments and decision-making.
In many cases, this can mean the difference between permanently closing activities and long-term survival of healthy businesses and thousands of jobs, the Commission said.
“Our fishermen and women and our aquaculture farmers are among the first to suffer the economic consequences of Coronavirus, as the demand for seafood has experienced a dramatic slump. But let me say it loud and clear: The European Union stands with you through this crisis,” European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said. “Together, we will ensure that the E.U. maintains a strong seafood industry and thriving coastal communities, now and in the future.”
According to the commission, the impact of these new measures will go beyond the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, with companies operating in the wider blue economy – from biotech to tourism – also set to benefit, as worsening economic conditions and restrictions on movement will be felt across the E.U. over the coming weeks and months.
The aid framework allows aid to be granted until 31 December, 2020, to undertakings that face difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
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