The European Commission has approved a €793 million Greek measure to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants to cover part of the instalments of existing financial debt, with a capped monthly contribution depending on the credit status of the loan and of the beneficiary. The measure will be open to SMEs that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, active in all sectors of the economy, except for the financial sector, which comply with additional conditions such as turnover or income, value of immovable property owned, amount of deposits in Greece and amount of financial products subscribed. The aid will provide liquidity support to qualifying beneficiaries for eight months. The purpose of the measure is to safeguard businesses against the risk of default, allowing them to preserve their economic activity, helping them recover after the outbreak, and mitigating potential cliff effects from the end of the suspension of debt payments by banks in the context of the outbreak. For most of the loans, the suspension ended at the end of March 2021. In addition, the support under granted under this measure can be recovered if the beneficiary defaults on its obligations during a monitoring period of up to 18 months following the granting of the aid. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will not exceed €225,000 per company active in the primary agricultural production, €270,000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and €1.8 million per company active in all other sectors; (ii) medium-sized companies that were already in difficulty on 31 December 2019 are not eligible; (iii) the aid will only be granted to micro and small companies that are not subject to collective insolvency proceedings; and (iv) the aid 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 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.62341 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
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