State aid: Commission approves €16 million Dutch scheme to support the fireworks sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €16 million Dutch scheme to support the fireworks sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. Under the scheme, companies active in the fireworks sector will be entitled to compensation for the damage suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak and the consequent prohibition of retail sale and use of fireworks in the Netherlands for New Year’s Eve 2020 celebrations. The scheme will consist of two measures. The first one will cover the additional transport costs (multiplied with a factor of two) incurred by wholesalers and certain retailers between 13 November 2020 and 1 February 2021 to transport the fireworks to a suitable storage location as a consequence of the ban. The second measure will cover the additional storage costs incurred during the period between 1 February and 31 August 2021. The aid amount linked to the additional storage costs will be calculated as a lump sum for each kilogram of fireworks stored. The Commission assessed both measures under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate companies for the damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the notified measures will compensate damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. 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 approved the two measures under 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 decisions will be made available under the case number SA.62368 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.