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State aid for SMEs in the fisheries sector

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State aid for SMEs in the fisheries sector

The Commission is facilitating the development of economic activities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by adopting a new group exemption Regulation in the fisheries sector. This Regulation establishes that certain forms of state aid are compatible with competition rules and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This type of aid is not subject to the notification requirement. However, Member States must send a form of summary information to the Commission for publication.


Commission Regulation (EC) No 736/2008 of 22 July 2008 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty to State aid to small and medium-sized enterprises active in the production, processing and marketing of fisheries products.


This Regulation applies to aid granted to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the fisheries sector. This aid is exempt from a case-by-case assessment on the condition that it complies with the previsions of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and the fisheries guidelines .

The categories of aid exempted pursuant to this Regulation are:

  • aid for cessation of fishing activities;
  • aid for financing socioeconomic measures;
  • aid for productive investments in aquaculture;
  • aid for aqua-environmental measures;
  • aid for public health and animal health measures;
  • aid for inland fishing;
  • aid for processing and marketing fisheries products and aquaculture;
  • aid for collective actions. This aid is for the financing of measures of common interest which are supported by operators, producer organisations or other organisations recognised by the Member States.
  • aid for measures intended to protect and develop aquatic fauna and flora;
  • aid for investments in fishing ports, landing sites and shelters;
  • aid for development of new markets and promotional campaigns;
  • aid for pilot projects;
  • aid for modification for reassignment of fishing vessels;
  • aid for technial assistance.

This Regulation does not cover:

  • aid the amount of which is fixed on the basis of price or quantity of products put on the market;
  • aid to export-related activities;
  • aid favouring domestic products over imported products;
  • aid granted to undertakings in difficulty to rescue and restructure them;
  • aid granted to an undertaking which is subject to an outstanding recovery order following a decision by the Commission declaring an aid illegal and incompatible with the common market.

Member States must ensure that the aid it wishes to grant does not affect trading conditions in a way contrary to the general interest. Aid granted is not subject to the notification requirement of Article 88, paragraph 3 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty). However, Member States must send a form of summary information detailed in Annex I of this Regulation in electronic format to the Commission for publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The amount of aid cannot exceed a maximum of EUR 1 million per beneficiary, per year or EUR 2 million per eligible project.

Cumulation of exempted aid under this Regulation with other aid of the same type is possible if the cumulated aid concerns different eligible costs within the maximum amounts detailed above.

Only aid with an incentive effect will benefit from the exemption of the aforementioned Regulation. Aid has an incentive effect when it enables beneficiaries to carry out activities or projects which they would not have undertaken under normal market conditions. For the incentive effect to be recognised, the beneficiary must submit an application for aid before the launch of the project or activities start.

Each year Member States must send a report in electronic format to the Commission. The information submitted must enable the Commission to verify that the exempted aid complies with transparency and exemption criteria.



Entry into force – expiry date

Deadline for transposition into the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 736/2008

18.8.2008 - 31.12.2013


OJ L 201 of 30.7.2008

Last updated: 10.09.2008