State aid: Commission approves €35 million Portuguese scheme to support companies in Azores region in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €35 million Portuguese scheme to support companies in the region of the Azores 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 direct grants. The scheme will be open to companies of all sizes active in the Azores, at the condition that they have maintained jobs in the region and that they have paid back the loans they previously received under the schemes that the Commission approved in April 2020 (SA.56873) and December 2020 (SA.59795). More specifically, the aid will only be granted if the applicant can prove that it has maintained, each month until 30 June 2021, a certain proportion of the level of employment compared to the one recorded in September 2020. The maximum amount of the aid shall not exceed the lower of the following two limits: (i) €750,000 per individual company or €1 million per group of companies belonging to the same group; and (ii) the amount of the loans received from the existing credit lines. The Commission found that the Portuguese scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular: (i) the support will not exceed the limits per beneficiary set in the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the aid will be granted before 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.62091 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.