State aid: Commission approves €1.3 million Slovenian support to compensate concession holder of Postojna and Predjama caves for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Slovenian support of approximately €1.3 million to compensate Postojnska jama, turizem, gostinstvo in trgovina, d.d., the concession holder of the Postojna and Predjama caves, for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that Slovenia had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. Specifically, the measure aims at compensating the concession holder for the damage incurred during the period between 26 October 2020 and 1 June 2021, when the Postojna and Predjama caves had to suspend their operations in order to comply with governmental restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. Under the measure, the public support takes the form of (i) a reduction of the base concession fee below the minimum base concession fee set out in the concession agreement for the years 2020 and 2021; and (ii) a higher deduction from the base concession fee of investments in the Postojna and Predjama cave systems compared to the contractually agreed deduction for the years 2020 and 2021. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)b of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies or specific sectors (in the form of schemes) for the damage directly by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the measure notified by Slovenia will provide compensation for damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures to contain its spread. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU State aid rules. More information on 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.63636 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.