State aid: Commission approves Italian State guarantee scheme to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved the Italian State guarantee supporting a debt moratorium from banks to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreakadopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020. Italy notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a State guarantee to support a debt moratorium for SMEs, which includes the postponement of repayments of overdraft facilities, bank advances, bullet loans, mortgages and leasing operations. The measure aims at temporarily easing the financial burden on SMEs that are severely affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The objective of the scheme is to ensure that SMEs have liquidity to help safeguard jobs and continue their activities faced with the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the Italian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. The Commission concluded that the guarantee to provide liquidity for SMEs under the moratorium will contribute to managing the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. The measures are 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 measures under EU State aid rules. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “It is crucial for SMEs to have access to liquidity in this extremely difficult situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak. SMEs are the backbone of Italy’s and, more generally, Europe’s economy. To help them get through these difficult times, Italy is providing a State guarantee to support a debt moratorium for SMEs. Today, we have approved the State guarantee under the new State aid Temporary Framework, in close cooperation with the Italian government.” The full press release is available online.