State aid: Commission approves €250 million Irish scheme to support micro and small companies affected by coronavirus outbreak in restarting their activities

The European Commission has approved a €250 million scheme to support micro and small enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak (the ‘Irish Restart Grant’). The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020. The support will take the form of direct grants equivalent to the company’s local commercial property tax (so-called “commercial rates”) for the year 2019, subject to a maximum amount of €10,000 per company. The aim of the scheme is to provide liquidity support to micro and small companies that have experienced loss of turnover due to the coronavirus outbreak. The support will help these companies reopen their business and re-employ staff, following the easing of the necessary restrictions put in place by the Irish Government to face the health crisis. The Commission found that the Irish scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the grants are clearly below the maximum ceiling of €800,000 per company. 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.57509 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.