State aid: Commission approves €110 million Belgian scheme to support hotels, restaurants and cafés in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission approved a €110 million Belgian scheme to support the hotels, restaurants and cafés sector (HoReCa) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Belgium notified two different aid measures in favour of employers active in the HoReCa sector related to the payment of the annual social security contributions financing the annual holidays’ scheme for manual workers. In particular, Belgium notified both: (i) its initial decision to grant a deferral of payment from April to October 2021; and (ii) its subsequent decision to exempt these employers from the payment of these contributions. Therefore, under the scheme, the aid will take the form of (i) a deferral of and (ii) an exemption from payment of the abovementioned contributions. The measure aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that the beneficiaries are facing due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Belgian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The Commission found that the Belgian measures are in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, with respect to the first measure, the end date of the deferral is 31 October 2021, i.e. before 31 December 2022. As regards the second measure, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per beneficiary; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. 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.63490 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.