State aid: Commission approves modification of Italian scheme to support companies active in agriculture, forestry, fishery, aquaculture and related sectors affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has prolonged for two years the validity of several EU State aid rules applicable in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors, which would otherwise expire at the end of 2020. This includes an extension, until 31 December 2022, of the EU Guidelines for State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas, the Block Exemption Regulations applicable to State aid in the areas of agriculture, forestry, fishery and aquaculture, as well as the Regulation on de minimis aid for fishery and aquaculture. All three Regulations were set to expire on 31 December 2020 and are currently being reviewed by the Commission. The design of the future rules will largely depend on the outcome of the ongoing reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Given that the future legal frameworks of the CAP and the CFP are still in the process of adoption, the Commission considered it necessary to extend the validity of the current State aid rules. New State aid rules, closely aligned to the reformed CAP and CFP, will be developed during the period of extension, with a view to entering into force on 1 January 2023. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Commission also adjusted the rules to allow the granting of State aid to undertakings that were not already in difficulty on 31 December 2019, but became undertakings in difficulty in the period from 1 January 2020 until 30 June 2021.