State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Polish scheme to support SMEs in difficulty

The European Commission has found the prolongation and modification of an existing aid scheme for the rescue and restructuring of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in financial difficulty in Poland, to be in line with EU State aid rules. The original scheme was approved by the Commission on 12 November 2015 and was set to expire at the end of 2020 (SA.43594). The prolonged scheme will run until 2026, subject to adapting to any future change in the relevant State aid rules, and will be open to SMEs active in all sectors of the economy except the steel, coal and financial sectors. Poland notified the following modifications to the original scheme: (i) an increase in the overall budget from approximately €173 million (PLN 765 million) to approximately €881 million (PLN 3891 million); (ii) the extension of the scheme to deferrals and waivers of certain administrative fines, which are a new form of restructuring aid; and (iii) the temporary adaptation of the conditions for granting rescue and restructuring aid to the circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission assessed the notified measure under its 2014 Guidelines on rescue and restructuring, which allow companies in difficulty to receive State aid under certain clear conditions. The Commission found that the support will contribute to economic development in Poland, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. The scheme also requires potential beneficiaries of restructuring aid to present a sound restructuring plan ensuring their long-term viability, and to make a significant own contribution to the restructuring costs. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the modified scheme is compatible with EU State aid rules. The decision will be published under the case number SA.58255 in the State Aid Register on the Commission’s competition website.