State aid: Commission approves €20.5 million Bulgarian scheme to support bus and coach operators in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €20.5 million (BGN 40 million) Bulgarian scheme to support bus and coach operators affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Bulgarian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of direct grants. The measure will be open to licensed bus and coach operators that have recorded revenues from the activity of transport of passengers by coach or bus of more than €15,000 (BGN 30 000) in 2019. In addition, in order to be eligible, bus and coach operators must have suffered a decline in turnover of at least 20% in any three months of 2021, compared to the corresponding months in 2019, as well as a revenue decline over 2020 compared to 2019. The aid amount per beneficiary will be up to 8% of its net revenues from transport activities recorded in 2019. The Commission found that the Bulgarian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company; 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 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.100331 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.