State aid rules and COVID-19

· The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic may have a significant economic impact. Several EEA States are considering or have already announced support measures for citizens or companies. Some support measures may entail state aid within the meaning of Article 61(1) of the EEA Agreement.

· ESA has set up a dedicated task force to assist the Icelandic, Liechtenstein and Norwegian authorities with any queries they have or measures they would like to discuss. ESA is committed to handling any queries or proposed measures in a swift and efficient manner.

· For any enquiries from the press, please contact: Øystein Solvang, Head of Communications.

Practical information

General

Financial support granted to health services or other public services to tackle the COVID-19 situation falls outside the scope of state aid control. The same applies to any public financial support given directly to citizens.

Public support measures that are available to all companies such as for example the extension of payment deadlines for corporate tax do not fall under state aid control, as they do not provide a selective advantage to specific companies vis-à-vis others in comparable situations. These measures can be implemented by the EEA EFTA States without the need of ESA's approval under the EEA state aid rules.

Where a measure or a scheme favours specific companies or the production of certain goods it may constitute state aid within the meaning of Article 61(1) of the EEA Agreement, provided that all the conditions set out in that Article are fulfilled.

Legal framework for granting state aid

When the state aid rules are applicable, the EEA EFTA States can design ample aid measures to support specific companies or sectors suffering from the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak in line with the existing state aid legal framework.

· Article 61(2)(b) of the EEA Agreement enables the EEA EFTA States to compensate specific companies or specific sectors (in the form of schemes) for the damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as those caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes measures to compensate companies in sectors that have been particularly hard hit (such as transport, tourism and hospitality) and measures to compensate organisers of cancelled events for damages suffered due to the outbreak. The European Commission has made a template for notifications under Article 61(2)(b).

· In case of particularly severe economic situations, such as that resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, the state aid rules allow the EEA EFTA States to grant support to remedy a serious disturbance to their economy. This is foreseen under Article 61(3)(b) of the EEA Agreement. The European Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework to enable the EU Member States to further support the economy during the current outbreak. The European Commission has also made a template for notification under the the Temporary Framework. ESA will apply the conditions set out by the Commission in the Temporary Framework when assessing the compatibility under Article 61(3)(b) of the EEA Agreement of state aid granted by the EEA EFTA States (with the exception of assessing the compatibility of aid granted to the agricultural, fisheries and aquacultural sectors). 

· The Rescue Aid and Restructuring Guidelines, which are based on Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement, enable states to help companies cope with liquidity shortages and needing urgent rescue aid. In addition, companies that are not (yet) in difficulty can also receive such support, if they face acute liquidity needs due to exceptional and unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID-19 outbreak.

Useful information

3. April Commission extends the Temporary Framework

1 April Temporary changes in ESA's base rate calculations in light of the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak (Press release (NO)(IS))

1 April ESA´s amendment of the Annex to its guidelines on short-term export credit insurance (on 27 March the Commission amended the corresponding Annex to its Communication on short-term export credit insurance)

27 March Commission statement on consulting Member States on proposal to extend State aid Temporary Framework

19 March Communication from the Commission: Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak (Press release) (Statement by Executive Vice-President Vestager

17 March Communication from the Commission: Coordinated economic response to the COVID-19 Outbreak (Annex 1 to the Communication) (Annex 3 to the Communication) (Press release) (Q&A)

17 March Statement by Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager on a draft proposal for a State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak

The Commission's Coronavirus website

Decisional practice

ESA decisions

3.4.2020. Norway: COVID-19 Compensation scheme for the cancellation or postponement of sports or volunteer events (Decision No 033/20/COL) (Press release (NOR))

3.4.2020. Norway: COVID-19 Compensation scheme for the cancellation or postponement of cultural events (Decision No 032/20/COL) (Press release (NOR))

2.4.2020. Norway: Amendment to COVID-19 Guarantee scheme for SMEs (Article 61(3)(b) EEA - Temporary Framework) (Decision No 031/20/COL) (Press release (NOR))

30.3.2020. Norway: COVID-19 Guarantee scheme for airlines (Article 61(3)(b) EEA - Temporary Framework) (Decision No 029/20/COL) (Press release (NOR)) 

26.3.2020. Norway: COVID-19 Guarantee scheme for SMEs (Article 61(3)(b) EEA - Temporary Framework) (Decision No 028/20/COL) (Press release (NOR))

European Commission decisions on the basis of Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the Temporary Framework

3.4.2020 Greece: Guarantee scheme to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56857) (Press release

2.4.2020. Germany: Extension of a scheme for subsidised loans to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56863) (Press release)

2.4.2020. Sweden: Guarantee scheme to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56860) (Press release)

2.4.2020. Spain: Umbrella scheme to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56851) (Press release)

2.4.2020. Malta: Guarantee scheme to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56843) (Press release)

1.4.2020. Denmark: Loan facility in support of the Travel Guarantee Fund for travel cancellation due to the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56856) (Press release

30.3.2020. Ireland: Scheme on repayable advances for companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56845) (Press release)

30.3.2020. Estonia: Two support schemes to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56804) (Press release)

30.3.2020. Denmark: Guarantee scheme for SMEs with export activities with export activities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56808) (Press release)

30.3.2020. France: "Fonds de solidarité" scheme for small enterprises and self employed people (SA.56823) (Press release)

27.3.2020. Luxembourg: State guarantee scheme to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56805) (Press release)

25.3.2020. Italy: State guarantee scheme to support debt moratorium by banks to SME borrowers (SA.56690) (Press release)

25.3.2020. UK: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) Grant (SA.56794) (Press release)

25.3.2020. UK: COVID-19 measure CBILS guarantee (SA.56792) (Press release)

24.3.2020. Spain: Guarantee scheme to companies and self employed to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak (SA.56803) (Press release)

24.3.2020. Germany: Federal Framework "Small amounts of aid 2020" (SA.56790) (Press release)

24.3.2020. Germany: Scheme on guarantees on loans for companies affected by the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56787) (Press release)

24.3.2020. Luxembourg: Scheme to support companies affected by the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56742) (Press release)

23.3.2020. Latvia: Subsidised loan scheme and loan guarantee scheme for companies affected by the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56722) (Press release)

22.3.2020. Italy: Support scheme for production and supply of medical equipment and masks during the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56786) (Press release)

22.3.2020. Portugal: Four guarantee schemes for SME's and midcaps affected by the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56755) (Press release)

22.3.2020. Germany: Two State aid schemes to support the German economy in the context of the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56714) (Press release)

21.3.2020. France: Three State aid schemes to support the French economy in the context of the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56709) (Press release)

21.3.2020. Denmark: Guarantee scheme for SME's affected by the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56708) (Press release)

European Commission decisions on the basis of Article 107(2)(b) TFEU

31.3.2020. France: Scheme deferring the payments by airlines of certain aeronautical taxes (SA.56765) (Press release)

25.3.2020. Denmark: Scheme to compensate self-employed for damages suffered due to the Coronavirus outbreak (SA.56791) (Press release)

12.3.2020. Denmark: State aid notification on compensation scheme cancellation of events related to COVID-19 (SA.56685) (Press release)

Decisional practice concerning the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines

This page will be updated with practical information as well any new updates from ESA and the European Commission.




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