State aid: Commission approves €40 million Bulgarian scheme to support small enterprises affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a BGN 78.2 million (approximately €40 million Bulgarian scheme to support small enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grant of BGN 50,000 (approximately €25,565) per beneficiary, to cover part of their operating costs. The scheme, which will be co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, will be accessible to small enterprises active in certain sectors and meeting certain requirements defined by Bulgaria, with an annual turnover of at least BGN 500,000 (approximately €250 000) in 2019, which experienced a decrease in turnover linked the coronavirus outbreak of at least 20% over three months since February 2020, compared to the same three months in 2019. The aim of the measure is to help beneficiaries overcome the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak and maintain employment. The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will not exceed the ceilings per company set out in the Temporary Framework; and (ii) aid under the scheme can 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 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.59704 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.