State aid: Commission approves amendment to Dutch scheme, including €1.9 billion budget increase, to further support companies in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has found the modifications to an existing Dutch scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak to be in line with the State aid Temporary Framework. The Commission approved the original scheme in June 2020 (SA.57712), and its subsequent modifications in November 2020 (SA.59535), in February 2021 (SA.60166), in March 2021 (SA.62241), in June 2021(SA.63257) and in July 2021 (SA.63984). Under the scheme, the support takes the form of direct grants to cover fixed costs incurred by the beneficiaries. The Netherlands notified some further modifications to the existing scheme, including notably: (i) an overall budget increase by €1.9 billion (ii); an extension of the eligible period, to cover the months from October to December 2021; (iii) the eligibility of beneficiaries that suffered a decline in turnover of at least 30% during the period between October and December 2021, compared to the same period in 2019 or the first quarter of 2020; and (iv) a modification of the maximum aid amount per beneficiary. The Commission found that the Dutch scheme, as amended, continues to be in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €290,000 per company active in the primary production of agriculture products, €345,000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and €2.3 million per company active in other sectors; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2022. The Commission concluded that the Dutch scheme, as modified, remains 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 amended scheme 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.100829 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.