State aid: Commission approves €38.7 million Dutch scheme to support zoos in context of coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €38.7 million Dutch scheme to support zoos in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme consists of two measures. The first measure covers the period from 18 March to 14 May 2020, when zoos were closed due to the restrictive measures imposed by the Dutch authorities to limit the spread of the virus. The second measure covers the period from 15 May to 30 September 2020, when zoos were allowed to open but had to implement social distancing rules. Under both measures, the Dutch authorities will compensate zoos for the fixed costs linked to animal care. The Commission assessed the first measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and found that it will provide compensation for damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. With regards to the second measure, the Commission found that it is in line with the conditions set out in the State aid Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will not exceed €1.8 million per beneficiary; and (ii) the aid will be granted before 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the second 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 two 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 decisions will be made available under the case numbers SA.59706 and SA.61300 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.