European Commission approves a €150 million Bulgarian scheme to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak

New Delhi: The European Commission has approved a €150 million (approx. BGN 294 million) Bulgarian scheme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €150 million scheme will enable Bulgaria to support SMEs in the form of equity and quasi-equity investments of up to €800,000 per company. This will help businesses meet their liquidity needs in these difficult times. In close cooperation with Member States, we find workable solutions to tackle the economic effects of the outbreak in line with EU rules.”

The Bulgarian measure

Bulgaria notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a State aid scheme with an estimated budget of €150 million (approx. BGN 294 million) to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of equity and quasi-equity investments.

The scheme, which will be open to SMEs active in all sectors with certain exceptions defined by Bulgaria, aims atenhancing access to liquidity by those companies, which are most severely affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, thus helping them tocontinue their activities, start investments and maintain employment.

The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the support will not exceed €800,000 per company as provided by the Temporary Framework, (ii) equity and quasi-equity will be granted only to solvent companies, and (iii) aid can be granted until 31 December 2020.

The Commission therefore concluded that the Bulgarian 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 measures under EU State aid rules.