State aid: Commission approves modifications of Polish scheme to support companies in the tourism and cultural sectors affected by coronavirus outbreak, resulting in €593 million budget increase

The European Commission has found the modifications of an existing Polish scheme to support companies operating in the tourism and cultural sectors in the context of the coronavirus outbreak to be in line with the State aid Temporary Framework. The estimated additional budget needed for all amendments combined amounts to PLN 2.7 billion (approximately €593 million). The existing scheme was approved by the Commission on 21 September 2020 (SA.58102). Under the existing scheme, the support takes the form of, respectively, direct grants, exemptions from the obligation to pay certain social contributions and subsidised interest rates on loans for tour operators. With respect to the first two measures, Poland notified the following main modifications: (i) the broadening of the scope of the eligible beneficiaries; (ii) an increase in the maximum amount of aid that can be granted to each beneficiary; and (iii) the prolongation of the measures until 31 December 2021. With respect to the subsidised interest rates measure, Poland notified the following modifications: (i) the postponement of the date for the beneficiaries to start repaying the loans to 31 December 2021; and (ii) a new aid measure in the form of grants to cover the additional interests resulting from that postponement. The Commission found that the amendments are in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the grants and exemptions from the obligation to pay certain social contributions, as well as the additional grant offsetting the interest linked to the postponement of the starting date to repay loans, will not exceed €1.8 million per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the aid will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the scheme, as amended, remains 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 of 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.62231 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.