European Commission approves €1.2 billion French “Fonds de solidarité” scheme for small enterprises in temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus outbreak

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    The European Commission has found France’s €1.2 billion scheme to support small and micro-enterprises as well as self-employed people affected by the economic repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak to be in line with EU State aid rules. The scheme, called “Fonds de solidarité”, was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020.

    Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “With this €1.2 billion scheme, France will help small and micro-enterprises and self-employed people affected by the coronavirus outbreak cover their operating costs and weather the crisis. We approved this measure under the new State aid Temporary Framework. It is yet another example of our close cooperation with Member States to ensure effective and timely support to the economy in these difficult times.”

    The French support measure

    France notified to the Commission a scheme for small and micro-enterprises, as well as self-employed people affected by the coronavirus outbreakunder the Temporary Framework. The measure has an estimated budget of €1.2 billion.

    The support takes the form of direct grants to allow beneficiaries to face their operating costs in the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The beneficiaries are companies with a maximum of 10 employees and a yearly turnover not exceeding €1 million. Companies are eligible when their business was closed by administrative decision as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, or when their monthly turnover in March 2020 dropped by 70% compared to their turnover in the same period last year.

    The Commission found that the scheme notified by France is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, it allows for direct grants, which may not exceed €3,500 per company.

    The Commission therefore concluded that the measure will contribute to managing the economic impact of the coronavirus in France.It 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.