The European Commission has approved a Belgian federal loan guarantee scheme to support lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The support will take the form of State guarantees on new loans provided by banks, and will complement the existing guarantee scheme approved by the Commission on 11 April 2020 (SA.56819). To fund the measure, Belgium has reallocated €10 billion of the €50 billion envelope earmarked for the previously approved guarantee scheme. The new measure aims at enhancing access to external financing for SMEs, thus ensuring the continuation of their activities. The Commission found that the Belgian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) it relates to new loans with a maximum maturity of 3 years; (ii) the loans will be granted before the end of 2020; and (iii) it provides for appropriate remuneration of the guarantees; and (iv) and contains adequate safeguards to ensure that the aid is channelled effectively by the banks to the beneficiaries in need. With the exception of micro and small companies, undertakings that were already in difficulty on 31 December 2020 are not eligible for aid under the scheme. The Commission concluded that the measure isnecessary, 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. 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.57869 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
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