State aid: Commission approves €760,000 Slovenian support measure to compensate the concession holder of the Postojna and Predjama caves for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €760,000 support measure to compensate the concession holder of the Postojna and Predjama caves for losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The measure aims to compensate the concession holder for the damage incurred during the period between 16 March 2020 and 31 May 2020, when the Postojna and Predjama caves had to suspend operations in order to comply with governmental restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the virus. The public support will take the form of (i) a reduction of the base concession fee; (ii) a higher than contractually agreed deduction of investments from the base concession fee; and (iii) an additional deduction of interest payments and servicing costs for a commercial loan from the base concession fee. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)b of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies or specific sectors (in the form of schemes) for the damage directly caused by restrictive measures taken in exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the measure notified by Slovenia 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. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU State aid rules. More information on 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.59014 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.