State aid: Commission approves €36.3 million Czech scheme to support SMEs in the primary agricultural sector affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a CZK 1 billion (approximately €36.3 million) Czech scheme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the primary agricultural sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. 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 public support, which will take the form of direct grants, will be open to SMEs active in the primary agricultural production sector (farmers). The aid is specifically intended to partially reduce the outstanding amounts of operating bank loans to these SMEs and will cover up to 50% of the unpaid loan amount. The measure is expected to support approximately 5,000 SMEs. The purpose of the scheme is to address the liquidity needs of farmers and to help them continue their activities during and after the outbreak. The Commission found that the Czech scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will not exceed €100,000 per company and (ii) the scheme will run until 31 December 2020. 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 measures 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.57475 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.