State aid: Commission approves modifications to Maltese wage subsidies scheme to support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak, including increase in budget to €750 million

The European Commission has found modifications to a Maltese wage subsidies scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak to be in line with the State Aid Temporary Framework. The existing scheme, which was approved by the Commission in April 2020 (SA.57076), aims at financing the wage costs of employers that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, would otherwise have laid off employees, and at supporting self-employed individuals whose activities were negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Malta notified some modifications to the scheme, including: (i) an increase in the budget of the scheme from €215 million to €750 million; (ii) the prolongation of the duration of the scheme until 31 December 2021; and (iii) a change in  the methodology to assess the eligibility of the beneficiaries to receive support and calculate the aid amount, which is now based on the decline in turnover experienced by each beneficiary as a result of the coronavirus outbreak rather than on their sector of activity, as under the original scheme. The Commission found that the amended scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €800 per full time employee per month, corresponding to approximately 50% of the national average monthly wage in Malta, in line with the limits set by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) can be granted until 31 December 2021 at the latest. The Commission concluded that the scheme, as modified, 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 set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the new 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.62220 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.