The European Commission backed the state aid handout after Berlin warned its trawlermen had seen at least 30 percent of their income disappear overnight. Fishing vessels around the bloc have lost a significant portion of their access to Britain’s coastal grounds as a result of the Brexit trade agreement. Under the deal, Brussels agreed to hand back 25 percent of the fish caught by value in UK waters over a five-and-half-year transition period.
Germany is proposing handing out non-repayable grants to its vessels hit hardest by the post-Brexit agreement.
Fishing chiefs that have lost at least 30 percent of their income, between January 1 and March 31, compared to the same period in 2018-2020, are welcome to apply for the bailout.
The compensation will be paid out per day where boats were unable to fish in the first three months of this year.
It will initially be funded out of the German state budget before eventually being replaced by cash from the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve.
The Commission said it “found that the measure enhances the sustainability of the fisheries sector and its ability to adapt to new fishing and market opportunities arising from the new relationship with the UK”.
“Therefore, the measure facilitates the development of this sector and contributes to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy,” the EU’s Brussels-based executive added.
“The Commission concluded that the measure constitutes an appropriate form of support in order to facilitate an orderly transition following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
“On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU State aid rules.”
Cash from the EU’s Brexit bailout fund is not expected to be ready for distribution until the end of the year.
The first instalment of around £1.4billion of the £4.3billion war chest will be available in December.
The same £1.4billion amount will also be handed out at the beginning of 2022 and 2023.
The remaining £850million with be distributed in 2025.
Ireland will be by far the largest beneficiary, followed by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium.
Berlin is expected to receive around £400million from the pot, whereas Dublin is set to be given around £850million.
The pot was announced to help the most-impacted nations deal with the new trading relationship with the UK.
Member states, particularly those with coastal ties to Britain, are expected to spend most of their positions on their fishing industries.
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An agreement has been reached between the European Council and Parliament but MEPs will not vote on its terms until September.
Last month Belgian MEP Pascal Arimont, the EU Parliament’s negotiator on the package, said: “The European Parliament has kept its promise.
“We wanted a quick European response and swift assistance to regions and businesses suffering from the negative effects of Brexit.”