State aid: Commission approves €27.5 million Danish scheme for fishery sector in the context of Brexit

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €27.5 million (DKK 204.4 million) Danish scheme to support the fishery sector affected by the effects of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The aim of the scheme is to incentivise vessel owners to cease commercial fishing activities either (i) by scrapping their vessels or (ii) by decommissioning and retrofitting them for other activities. The scheme will run until 31 December 2023.  Under the scheme, aid will be granted to Danish-registered vessel owners in the form of a direct grant to compensate them for ceasing their fishing activities. In the case of vessel scrapping, the aid amount is based on the value of the vessel and scrapping costs, with a maximum ceiling for the value of the vessel of €2.35 million (DDK 17.5 million). In the event of decommissioning and retrofitting, the aid amount can cover up to €1.34 million (DDK 10 million) of the actual investment costs. Under the scheme, the fishing capacity corresponding to a withdrawn vessel will not be replaced by another vessel, and the fishing licenses and authorisations for the vessel concerned will be permanently withdrawn. The measure is planned to be financed under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, established to mitigate the economic and social impact of Brexit, subject to approval under the specific provisions governing funding from that instrument. The Commission assessed the measures under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities or areas under certain conditions, and under the Guidelines for the examination of State aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector. The Commission found that the scheme facilitates the development of an economic activity and does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. On this basis, the Commission approved the Danish measure under EU State aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.101091 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.