State aid: Commission approves €200 million Irish scheme to support research and development, testing and production of coronavirus-relevant products

The European Commission has approved a €200 million Irish aid scheme to support investment in research and development (R&D), testing and production of products that are relevant to the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020. The public support will take the form of direct grants and repayable advances, and will be open to companies with more than ten employees operating in the manufacturing and/or internationally traded services sectors. The aim of the scheme is to enhance and accelerate the development and the production of products directly relevant to the coronavirus outbreak, including vaccines, hospital and medical equipment and medicinal products, as well as the development of innovative processes for an efficient production of such products. The Commission found that the Irish scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will cover a significant share of costs necessary for the research in and the development and testing of innovative products and processes, (ii) there will be a “bonus” (in terms of additional share of the costs that can be covered by the State aid) for R&D projects for industrial research and experimental development that are supported by more than one Member State, or for projects that are carried out in cross-border collaboration with research organisations or other companies; and (iii) any result of the research activities will be made available to third parties in the European Economic Area through non-exclusive licences. The Commission concluded that the Irish scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to fight the health crisis, in line with Article 107(3)(c) 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.57453 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.