Danish fishing vessel owners could face a €1.6m bill after the Board of Fisheries raised the reimbursement of grant funding following a review
The Danish Department of Fisheries has announced that they have raised the reimbursement requirement following the review of a number of grant cases under the Marine and Fisheries Development Program during the period 2014-2020.
The review shows that in some cases commitments and grants have been granted under the program, which contravene national as well as EU rules in the fisheries sector.
It is the Chamber Attorney who, on behalf of the Danish Fisheries Authority, has carried out the examination of the grant cases. It was a follow-up to the National Audit Office’s report from October 2018, which concluded that the then management of grant schemes under the EMFF program had, overall, been criticized and in some cases contrary to the legal basis.
Following the review by the Attorney General, the Danish Fisheries Authority has clarified the legal basis for refunds in cases where errors can be found.
The Board is now ready to begin the case processing of the specific grant cases that have hitherto been pending and awaiting clarification.
The Danish Fisheries Authority estimates that there will be a legal basis for requiring approx. 12 million Danish Kroner (€1.6m) back for approx. 5% of cases on the vessel scheme. Reimbursement of grant funds will only be required in cases where it is considered that the applicant should have known that they were not entitled to the grant.
Director of the Danish Fisheries Authority, Nanna Møller says:
“Now the legal basis has been clarified after the Prosecutor General’s examination of the cases. This means that we can start raising reimbursement claims in cases where the disbursement has been made in violation of the rules. This also means that applicants who are not affected by the errors can finally have their applications processed and reimbursed. However, there are some applicants who will not be paid the full subsidy due to the errors, which we must of course regret – but these are cases where the applicant should have known that they were not entitled to the subsidy.”
The Danish Fisheries Authority now initiates the case processing of the grant cases which are not affected by the errors. After the summer holidays, the Danish Fisheries Agency seeks reimbursement in cases where the errors are either due to the applicant providing misleading information himself or where the rules are so clear that applicants should have known that they could not receive reimbursement.
Some fishermen and trade associations will be paid a smaller subsidy than previously envisaged, and in one area – investment in fishing vessels – subsidies already paid will be required.
Source: Danish Government