State aid: Commission approves €28.4 million Czech scheme to support operators of cultural events in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission approved a €28.4 million (CZK 750 million) Czech scheme to support operators who had to cancel or postpone their cultural event(s) due to the restrictive measure that Czechia had to implement to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. This scheme follows a Czech aid scheme to support operators of cultural events that the Commission approved on 19 August 2020 under case number SA.58213. While support under the measure approved in August 2020 could be granted for cancelled or postponed events scheduled between 10 March 2020 and 31 August 2020, support under the new measure is intended for cancelled or postponed events between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020. The public support, which will take the form of direct grants, will cover (i) up to 50% of the eligible expenses for limited, postponed or cancelled cultural events and (ii) up to 80% of eligible expenses for continuous cultural activities (i.e. the operation of theatres, music clubs, artistic management agencies, cultural centres and other similar facilities). Under the scheme, support will also be available for the operation of cultural venues and to self-employed persons providing artistic or professional technical support in the cultural sector. The purpose of the measure is to facilitate access to external financing by the beneficiaries and to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages they are facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the Czech measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support per company will not exceed €800,000; and (ii) aid under the scheme can only be granted until 30 June 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 of 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.59536 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.