State aid: Commission approves €7 million Italian scheme to support open top bus operators in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €7 million Italian scheme to support open top bus operators active in the tourism sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the aid will take form of direct grants. The aim of the scheme is to provide support for the uncovered fixed costs of open top bus operators that had to reduce their business activity due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Italian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. Under this measure, the beneficiaries will be eligible to receive the aid provided that they experienced a decline in turnover of at least 30% during the period between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021, including parts of that period, compared to the corresponding period in 2019. The Commission found that the Italian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed 70% of the uncovered fixed costs (90% for micro and small enterprises); (ii) will not exceed €10 million per beneficiary; and (iii) will be granted no later than 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 of 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.64469 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website, once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.