State aid: Commission approves €149 million Belgian scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies in Flanders affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €149 million Belgian scheme to support the uncovered fixed costs of companies in the Flemish Region affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The scheme will be open to companies active in all sectors, except the financial sector. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of direct grants to companies that have experienced a decline in turnover of at least 60% during the period 1 April to 31 December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The beneficiaries will receive grants up to a maximum of 10% of their turnover during this period in 2019. For medium and large companies, the aid will be limited to a maximum of 70% of their uncovered fixed costs during the same period in 2020. For micro and small businesses, it will be limited to 90% of the uncovered fixed costs during the same 2020 period. Grants will not exceed 2 million per beneficiary and are subject to a further variable ceiling based on employment and turnover decline of the beneficiary. The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate the economic difficulties and the sudden liquidity shortages that the beneficiaries are facing due to the restrictive measures imposed by the Belgian authorities to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support will not exceed €10 million per company; and (ii) the aid will be granted before 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 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.61748 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.