The European Commission has approved a €5 million Portuguese scheme to support companies in the outermost region of the Azores in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. The scheme is open to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operating in certain sectors severely impacted by the emergency measures necessary to limit the spread of the virus, such as commerce and services open to consumers, cultural activities and touristic activities. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants.
In order to be eligible, companies must have suffered a decrease in turnover of at least 25% between 1 November 2021 and 31 January 2022, compared to the period between 1 November 2019 and 31 January 2020. The maximum amount of direct grants will be equal to either 20% of that decrease in turnover, or €5,000 for micro companies, €20,000 for small companies and €50,000 for medium-sized ones, whichever the lowest. If a micro or small company has a decrease in turnover of more than 50%, the maximum amount of direct grants will be equal to either 40% of that fall in turnover, or €12,000 for micro companies and €48,000 for small ones, whichever the lowest.
The Commission found that the Portuguese measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €2.3 million per beneficiary and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2022. The Commission 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. 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.102005 in the state aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
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