State aid: Commission approves €79 million Bulgarian scheme to support micro, small, and medium enterprises affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €79 million (approximately BGN 156 million) Bulgarian scheme to support micro, small, and medium enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The scheme, which will be co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, will be accessible to enterprises active in certain sectors and meeting certain requirements defined by Bulgaria, which have had their activities suspended or limited by governmental restrictive measures to limit the spread of the virus. The amount of grant each beneficiary may receive will be calculated by comparing its turnover (excluding VAT) during the affected period with the same period of the previous year (or the turnover for October 2020, for beneficiaries opened after 1 January 2020). The grant will amount to either 10% or 20% of that turnover, depending on the beneficiary’s sector of activity, up to a maximum of BGN 150 000 (approximately €76,694). The support will help the beneficiaries to cover part of their operating costs and support activities necessary to overcome the shortage of funds or lack of liquidity resulting from the coronavirus outbreak. 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 €800 000 per company; 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.60454 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.