State aid: Commission approves €15 million Irish scheme to support Ireland-based inbound tourism agents affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €15 million Irish scheme to support Ireland-based inbound tourism agents affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the support will take the form of direct grants. Beneficiaries will receive a grant based on their average inbound tourism revenue for the period from 2017 to 2019. The aid will not exceed (i) the revenue lost from the eligible inbound business for 2020, as compared with the average of 2017-2019 or (ii) the average operating costs for the eligible inbound business over 2017-2019, excluding payroll costs. The purpose of the measure is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing because of the restrictive measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of the virus. The Commission found that the Irish scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €800,000 per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 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 of 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.59719 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.