The European Commission has approved a €200 million Belgian scheme to support companies active in the Flemish Region affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme will be open to companies active in all sectors. To be eligible companies must either (i) have suffered a turnover decline, excluding VAT, of at least 60% in the months of January and/or February 2021, compared to the same reference period in 2020; or (ii) be active in the food and drink sectors that were not allowed to operate in January and/or February 2021 as a result of the restrictive measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus, unless their activity was already mainly devoted to take-away; or (iii) be active in eligible sectors listed, e.g. cinemas, fitness centres, wellness centres, indoor playgrounds, in the measure that they were not allowed to operate in January and/or February 2021 as a result of the restrictive measures. 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 €225 000 per company active in the primary production of agriculture products, €270 000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and €1 800 000 per company active in other sectors; 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, 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.60524 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
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