Italy is set to benefit from a scheme to support its agricultural, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors, funded to the tune of €1.2 billion.

The European Commission announced yesterday (Wednesday, May 18) that it has approved the scheme, which is aimed at supporting these sectors in Italy in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework, adopted by the commission on March 23.

Executive vice-president of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said yesterday: “This €1.2 billion scheme will enable Italy to support the agricultural, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors affected by the input costs increase caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the related sanctions.

“We continue to stand with Ukraine and its people. At the same time, we continue working closely with member states to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a timely, coordinated and effective way, while protecting the level playing field in the Single Market.”

The eligible beneficiaries in Italy will be entitled to receive limited amounts of aid in the form of direct grants; tax or payment advantages; repayable advances; or reductions or exemptions from the payment of social security and welfare contributions.

The scheme will be open to companies of all sizes active in the agricultural, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors affected by the price increases for electricity, animal feed and fuel caused by the war.

The commission said that the scheme is in line with the Temporary Crisis Framework, in that aid will not exceed €35,000/beneficiary active in primary production in the relevant sectors and will not exceed €400,000/company in all other sectors.

The commission concluded that the Italian scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to “remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state”.

On that basis, the commission approved the aid measure under EU state aid rules.