State aid: Commission approves €60 million Irish scheme to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved a €60 million Irish scheme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The scheme, which goes under the name of the “Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC)”, will be open to companies in all sectors, except financial institutions and companies operating in the primary production of agricultural products, fisheries or aquaculture sectors. In order to be eligible, companies will have to meet certain criteria, including being an SME with a turnover between €50,000 and €25 million and employ 250 people or less and not being eligible for support under the “Government’s COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)”, the “Fáilte Ireland Business Continuity grant” (SA.61236) or other direct sectoral grant schemes. Under the scheme, support will take the form of direct grants of up to €4,000 for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2021. Ireland anticipates that a further payment of €4,000 will be made to those companies that will still be eligible for the second quarter of 2021. The Commission found that the Irish scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company and (ii) can be granted until 31 December 2021. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is 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 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.62301 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA): European Commission launches public consultation
On March 31, the Commission launched an online public consultation on the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). As part of Europe’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the establishment of a strong Health Union, HERA will aim to improve Europe’s preparedness and its ability to respond to cross-border health threats and health emergencies. Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “COVID-19 has revealed gaps in our collective preparedness and response capabilities. The Union’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, the HERA, is a fundamental part of the solution we need to better prepare and respond more quickly collectively to the next health crisis. HERA will strengthen our capacities for foresight, preparation, anticipation and reaction. To ensure that it responds to current and future challenges as quickly as possible, we will listen very carefully to stakeholder positions. And we will develop an ambitious proposal that will make HERA a strong pillar of the European Health Union. »A press release is available online.
Read the European Commission Daily News in full here.