State aid: Commission approves €30 million Greek guarantee scheme to support SMEs active in the construction sector affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €30 million Greek scheme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the construction sector that have been particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of guarantees on loans and direct grants. The scheme will be implemented by the ‘COVID-19 Business Guarantee HDB’ – TMEDE Fund, a new Fund of the Hellenic Development Bank (HDB), established in cooperation with the Engineers and Public Work Contractors Fund (TMEDE). The measure will partially guarantee eligible working capital loans granted by financial intermediaries. In addition, it will enable the subsidisation of loan guarantee premiums, in the form of direct grants. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, with respect to the guarantees on loans, (i) the aid will cover guarantees on operating loans with a limited maturity and size; (ii) the annual interest rates of the loans respect the minimum levels foreseen by the Temporary Framework; and (iii) the measure limits the risk taken by the State to a maximum of 80%. With respect to the direct grants, the aid will not exceed €1.8 million per company. Support under the scheme will be granted no later than 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, 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.62835 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.