The European Commission has decided to raise the ceiling for state aid to farmers from 15,000 to 25,000 euros to help them “cope with a crisis in their country”, she announced on Friday, as the opening on Saturday in Paris the Agricultural Show. The new rules will apply from March 14, two months before the European elections.
“We have had many examples in recent years where we felt that state aid rules were not generous enough to help Member States cope, from time to time, to a crisis in their country, “Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan told AFP.
From 15 to 25,000 euros
The new rules concern “de minimis” aid, which the national authorities can distribute to farmers without the prior agreement of the Commission, within the limit of a national envelope granted to them.
Currently capped at 15,000 euros per farmer over a period of three years, they will be able to go up to 20,000 euros, or even 25,000 euros if a State does not spend more than half of its budget for a single sector in particular, explains moreover the Commission in a press release.
For those countries which opt for this higher ceiling, they will have to create “mandatory registers” at the national level. “This will help keep track of the aid granted”, the Commission says. The rules are very precise because it is necessary not to create “distortions of competition” through this national aid. “We would have been criticized for not having a level playing field,” said Hogan.