€2 billion emergency aid package to help fishermen adjust to rising fuel prices
It seems that recent protests by European fishing boats have had some impact in Brussels. EU agriculture and fisheries ministers have given their backing to a ?2 billion emergency aid package to help fishermen adjust to rising fuel prices.
“Political agreement was reached by a qualified majority on urgent measures for the fishing sector,” a spokesperson for the EU’s French Presidency announced after the meeting on Wednesday (15th July).
The measures include the possibility for governments to raise the aid cap for fishing vessels to ?100,000 over a three-year period, up from the current ?30,000.
The move comes after fishermen staged mass protests throughout the EU, responding to a 240% rise in fuel costs since 2004. Countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Malta have been hit particularly hard.
The decision represents a u-turn from the decision made last month not to increase subsidies, in light of massive overfishing and declining fish stocks.
After three weeks of work stoppages and blockades staged by fishermen in France, the fishing industry in Spain, Italy and Portugal joined in the protest against high oil prices. The rapid rise in the cost of oil has pushed up the price of marine diesel by around 30% since the beginning of the year, meaning trawler owners are facing bankruptcy, according to fishing federations.