State aid: Commission approves Italian scheme to compensate tour operators and travel agents for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, an Italian scheme to support tour operators and travel agents in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The aim of the scheme is to compensate companies who suffered damages as a result of the restrictive measures imposed by the Italian authorities between 1 March and 31 July 2020 to limit the spread of the virus. The measure will be open for beneficiaries entitled to receive compensation for damages above €1.8 million, and follows a scheme approved by the Commission in March 2021 compensating the same beneficiaries for damages below this amount (SA.62356, prolonging and amending the Decision adopted in SA.59755). The new measure will be financed through the budget of the existing scheme, which amounts to a total of €625 million. The amount of damage to be compensated will correspond to a certain percentage of the difference between the turnover and fees of the relevant beneficiaries between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, net of any aid granted under other measures, including the damage compensation measure approved in March 2021 and mentioned above. 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 for the damages directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the measure will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules. More information on the 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.62392 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the Competition Weekly e-News.