The European Commission has approved a €1.2 billion Greek aid scheme to support the Greek economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
“Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of our economy, and they have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. This €1.2 billion Greek scheme will enable direct grants to ensure SMEs can continue their activities in these difficult times and help them bounce back afterwards. We will continue to work in close cooperation with Member States provide solutions to tackle the economic effects of the outbreak in line with EU rules.”
The Greek support measures
Following the approval of a €2 billion Greek guarantee measure on 3 April 2020 and a second scheme providing €1 billion in repayable advances to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak on 7 April 2020, Greece notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a scheme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The support takes the form of grants and the scheme has an estimated budget of €1.2 billion.
The scheme is intended to cover interest up to €800 000 per companion existing debt obligations (fixed-maturity loans, bonds or bank overdrafts) for a period of 3 months, with an option for extension for another 2 months.
The scheme will apply to the whole territory of Greece and will be open to SMEs from sectors affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme is designed to support the liquidity of SMEs facing temporary difficulties as a result of the outbreak and, thus, remedy a serious disturbance in the Greek economy.
The Commission found that the Greek measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular: (i) the aid amounts do not exceed the threshold foreseen by the Temporary Framework, (ii) the grants are granted only to solvent enterprises, (iii) the scheme is of temporary nature, and (iv) is proportionate to remedy the consequences of the serious disturbance caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.
On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules.