State aid: Commission approves €500 million scheme to sustain business activities in historic centres of the most touristic Italian cities affected by coronavirus

The European Commission has approved a €500 million Italian scheme to ensure that sufficient liquidity remains available for the undertakings engaged in business activities for the sale of goods or services to the public in the historic centres of the most touristic Italian cities. These undertakings have been particularly affected by the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on tourism. The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate the economic difficulties and the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing due to the restrictive measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of the virus. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The public support will be open to companies of all sizes active in all sectors except the financial sector. Companies are eligible if their turnover in the historic city centre in June 2020 declined by at least one third compared to June 2019. The amount of the direct grant corresponds to a percentage of that difference of turnover. The amount of the grant will be no less than €1,000 for natural persons and €2,000 for legal persons, and no more than €100,000 for undertakings active in the primary agricultural sector, €120,000 for undertakings active in the fishery sector and €150,000 for undertakings active in all the remaining sectors. Undertakings that started their activities only after 1 July 2019 will be entitled to an aid in the form of a lump sum (€1,000 for natural persons and €2,000 for legal persons). The Commission found that the Italian 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 as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the aid will 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.59590 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.