State aid: Commission approves €150 million Portuguese scheme to support companies in Azores region affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules a €150 million Portuguese scheme to support companies in the region of the Azores, which have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The support, which will take the form of a direct grant, is intended to mitigate the negative impact on companies active in the region of the Azores due to the restrictive measures imposed by the Portuguese authorities to limit the spread of the virus. According to the scheme, companies that were the beneficiaries of the credit lines decided at the national level and approved by the Commission in April 2020 (SA.56873) and December 2020 (SA.59795) will receive a fixed amount of aid. This will be calculated on the basis of the regional minimum wage for each full-time employee and of the size of the companies concerned. The aid will only be granted to the applicant who can prove that it has maintained at least 90% of its net employment level between March 2020 and December 2020 included. The maximum amount of aid should not exceed €750.000 per individual company or €1 million per group of companies belonging to the same corporate group. The Commission found that the Portuguese scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework in particular the support (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per beneficiary, and (ii) will be granted no later than 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 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.62090 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website.