The European Commission has launched a public consultation on draft targeted amendments to the rules on small amounts of aid to the agricultural sector (‘Agricultural de minimis Regulation’).

The proposed targeted amendments will make it easier and faster for member states to provide small amounts of agricultural aid by raising the exemption ceilings.

The Agricultural de minimis Regulation exempts small amounts from state aid control, since they are deemed to have no impact on competition and trade in the single market.

Member states can currently grant support to the agricultural sector of up to €20,000 per beneficiary over a period of three fiscal years without prior notification for Commission approval.

Resilient sector

The Commission has taken note of the European Council’s conclusions of April 2024 on the importance of a competitive, sustainable and resilient agricultural sector.

Against this background and in view of the increasing inflationary pressure on the farming sector and high commodity prices, the Commission has launched a targeted revision of the Agricultural de minimis Regulation on 2 May 2024, earlier than the planned review.

The Commission is now seeking feedback on this early revision of the regulation.

By increasing the maximum de minimis ceiling per company to account for inflation, the proposed amendments will widen the possibilities for member states to provide support to farmers in a simpler, faster, more direct and efficient manner.

In addition, the proposed amendments will reduce the administrative burden for farmers.

The Commission intends to adopt the amendments to the Agricultural de minimis Regulation as soon as possible.

Review

Executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “We are reviewing our rules on small amounts of aid to the agricultural sector to help farmers tackle inflationary pressure and high commodity prices.

"We also propose a central register to facilitate the control of the de minimis aid and to reduce reporting obligations for farmers. We encourage all interested parties to share their views.”

All interested parties can respond to the public consultation until 21 July 2024.