State aid: Commission approves €200 million Belgian subsidised loans scheme to support economic activity in Wallonia in context of coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €200 million Belgian scheme to support economic activity in Wallonia in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The public support, which will take the form of subsidised interest rates for senior and subordinated loans, will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies active in all sectors of the economy, except for the financial sector. The aid will be administered by the Société Régionale d’Investissement de Wallonie S.A., a public entity held at 99.5% by the Walloon Region. The objective of the measure is to mitigate the liquidity shortages that these businesses experienced due to the measures that were implemented in Wallonia due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the maturity of the loans is limited to six years; (ii) the annual interest rates on the loans respect the minimum levels set out in the Temporary Framework; (iii) the loan amount per beneficiary is in line with what is foreseen by the Temporary Framework; (iv) the loans relate to investment and/or working capital needs; and (v) the loan contracts will be signed by 31 December 2021 at the latest. 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.62032 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.