State aid: Commission approves modification of Portuguese scheme and new measure to support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has found the modification of an existing Portuguese scheme to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as a new measure, to be in line with the State aid Temporary Framework. The existing scheme was approved on 27 November 2020 under case number SA.59450. Portugal notified the following modifications to the scheme: (i) an increase in the total budget, from €750 million to €1.2 billion; (ii) an increase in the maximum amount that can be granted per beneficiary under the two measures included in the scheme, (“Apoiar.PT” and “Apoiar Restauração”); and (iii) the modification of the eligibility conditions for beneficiaries of one of the measures available under the scheme (the so-called “Apoiar.PT”), which will now include medium and large companies (as long as not already in difficulty on 31 December 2019).  Portugal also notified a new measure called “Apoiar Rendas”, which will be funded from the budget of the amended scheme. Under the measure, the public support  will take the form of direct grants. The new measure is intended to compensate companies for a certain percentage of their rental payments and aims at providing financial support in order to preserve jobs and avoid lay-offs. The Commission found that the amended scheme and the new measure are in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support per company will not exceed €120,000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, €100,000 per company active in the primary production of agricultural products and €800,000 per company active in all other sectors; and (ii) the aid will be granted before 30 June 2021. The Commission concluded that the amended scheme and the new scheme 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. 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 numbers SA.61048 and SA.61209 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.