Unabhängige Zeitung zu Wirtschaft und Verkehrspolitik
CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero MARZO 2020
State aid: Commission adopts Temporary Framework to enable
Member States to further support the economy in the COVID-19
The European Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework to
enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under
State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the
COVID-19 outbreak. Together with many other support measures that
can be used by Member States under the existing State aid rules, the
Temporary Framework enables Member States to ensure that sufficient
liquidity remains available to businesses of all types and to
preserve the continuity of economic activity during and after the
Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of
competition policy, said: "The economic impact of the COVID-19
outbreak is severe. We need to act fast to manage the impact as much
as we can. And we need to act in a coordinated manner. This new
Temporary Framework enables Member States to use the full
flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy at
this difficult time."
The State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the
context of the COVID-19 outbreak, based on Article 107(3)(b) of the
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, recognises that the
entire EU economy is experiencing a serious disturbance. To remedy
that, the Temporary Framework provides for five types of aid:
(i) Direct grants, selective tax advantages and advance
payments: Member States will be able to set up schemes to grant up
to €800,000 to a company to address its urgent liquidity needs.
(ii) State guarantees for loans taken by companies from banks:
Member States will be able to provide State guarantees to ensure
banks keep providing loans to the customers who need them.
(iii) Subsidised public loans to companies: Member States will
be able to grant loans with favourable interest rates to companies.
These loans can help businesses cover immediate working capital and
(iv) Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real
economy: Some Member States plan to build on banks' existing lending
capacities, and use them as a channel for support to businesses - in
particular to small and medium-sized companies. The Framework makes
clear that such aid is considered as direct aid to the banks'
customers, not to the banks themselves, and gives guidance on how to
ensure minimal distortion of competition between banks.
(v) Short-term export credit insurance: The Framework introduces
additional flexibility on how to demonstrate that certain countries
are not-marketable risks, thereby enabling short-term export credit
insurance to be provided by the State where needed.
Given the limited size of the EU budget, the main response will
come from Member States' national budgets. The Temporary Framework
will help target support to the economy, while limiting negative
consequences to the level playing field in the Single Market.
The Temporary Framework therefore includes a number of
safeguards. For example, It links the subsidised loans or guarantees
to businesses to the scale of their economic activity, by reference
to their wage bill, turnover, or liquidity needs, and to the use of
the public support for working or investment capital. The aid should
therefore help businesses to weather the downturn and to prepare a
The Temporary Framework complements the many other possibilities
already available to Member States to mitigate the socio-economic
impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, in line with EU State aid rules. On
13 March 2020, the Commission adopted a Communication on a
Coordinated economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak setting out
these possibilities. For example, Member States can make generally
applicable changes in favour of businesses (e.g. deferring taxes, or
subsidising short-time work across all sectors), which fall outside
State Aid rules. They can also grant compensation to companies for
damage suffered due to and directly caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
This can be useful to support particularly impacted sectors, such as
transport, tourism, hospitality and retail.
The Framework will be in place until the end of December 2020.
With a view to ensuring legal certainty, the Commission will assess
before that date if it needs to be extended.
State aid rules enable Member States to take swift and effective
action to support citizens and companies, in particular SMEs, facing
economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Temporary Framework adopted today complements the ample
possibilities for Member States to design measures in line with
existing EU State aid rules, as set out in the Communication on a
Coordinated economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak of 13 March
2020. In particular, they can adopt measures that fall outside the
scope of State aid control, such as national funds granted to health
services or other public services to tackle the Covid-19. Member
States can also immediately act through public support measures that
are available to all companies such as wage subsidies, suspension of
payments of corporate and value added taxes or social contributions.
In addition, Member States can grant financial support directly to
consumers, for example for cancelled services or tickets that are
not reimbursed by the operators concerned.
In addition, EU State aid rules enable Member States to help
companies cope with liquidity shortages and needing urgent rescue
aid. Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the
European Union enables Member States to compensate companies for the
damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as those
caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, including measures in sectors such
as aviation and tourism.
The Commission had adopted a Temporary Framework in 2008, in
response to the global financial crisis.