The European Commission has found the modification of three existing Spanish schemes to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak to be in in line with the State aid Temporary Framework. All three schemes are prolonged until 31 December 2021. For the first “umbrella” scheme, the following additional modifications are included, which reflect the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework: (i) A €10 billion increase in the budget for limited amounts of aid; (ii) Aid ceilings for limited amounts of aid are increased to €225,000 per company active in the primary production of agricultural products (previously €100,000); €270,000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector (previously €120,000), and €1.8 million per company active in all other sectors (previously €800,000); (iii) Authorities will be able to grant guarantees up to 8 years on newly issued subordinated debt instruments; (iv) Authorities will be allowed to convert repayable aid instruments granted under the existing schemes. This will, in particular, allow the conversion of guarantees into grants as well as the extension of maturities of existing guaranteed loans and the conversion of existing guaranteed senior loans into participating loans. For the two “umbrella” schemes, micro and small enterprises will be eligible for aid related to research development and innovation even if they were in difficulty already on 31 December 2019. The Commission concluded that the schemes, as amended, remain necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, and contribute to fight the health crisis, in line with Article 107(3)(b) and Article 107(3)(c) 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: “The amendments we have approved today will help Spanish companies preserve economic activity in these difficult times by adapting and enhancing existing Spanish schemes already in force. For example, Spain has made use of the possibility under the State aid Temporary Framework to first grant repayable instruments that can be converted into grants, if it becomes necessary. We continue to work in close cooperation with Member States to find workable solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules.” The full press release is available online.
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