State aid: Commission approves a €550 million Czech scheme to support self-employed affected by the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a CZK 15 billion (approximately €550 million) Czech scheme to support self-employed that are particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of (a) a partial reduction of annual pension and state employment contributions for 2020, (b) a waiver of penalties related to remaining payments of contributions for 2019, and (c) postponing the monthly pre-payments of pension and State employment policy contributions for March-August 2020 until 31 December 2021. The scheme is open to self-employed active in all sectors. The aim of the scheme is to address the liquidity needs of the self-employed, to help them continue their activities during and after the outbreak. The Commission found that the measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid provided in the form of payment advantages and waiver of penalties for self-employed i) will not exceed €100,000 per undertaking active in the primary production of agriculture products, €120,000 per undertaking active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and €800,000 per undertaking active in other sectors; and (ii) the measure is limited until 3 of August 2020. Furthermore, the aid in form of postponing the payments of social contributions for March-August 2020 will be provided in form of a deferral of social security contributions to self-employed particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The latest date of the deferral will be 31 December 2021. 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 measures under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57149 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.