State aid: Commission approves €61.4 million Italian scheme to support private employers in context of coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €61.4 million Italian scheme to support private employers in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The objective of the measure is to reduce the labour costs borne by private employers, which are experiencing socio-economic disturbances because of the coronavirus outbreak, with a view to preserve employment levels. The public support will take the form of an exemption from the payment of employers’ compulsory social security contributions (except for contributions to insurance for accidents at work), for a period of four weeks, until 31 January 2021. The scheme will be open to employers registered in Italy and active in all sectors, with the exclusion of the financial and agriculture sectors. The beneficiaries are companies that had benefitted from the Italian wage subsidy general measure (‘cassa integrazione ordinaria e in deroga’) in June 2020, but have not applied for more recent wage subsidy measures. This scheme complements a scheme approved by the Commission on 10 November 2020 (SA.59255), which provided for a similar measure for a maximum period of four months, until 31 December 2020. The Commission found that the Italian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support will not exceed €270 000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and €1.8 million per company active in all other sectors; 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.61939 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.