European Commission approves €1 billion Croatian schemes to support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved two Croatian schemes to support the Croatian economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The schemes were 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: “These €1 billion Croatian schemes will enable Croatia to support those companies most affected by the coronavirus outbreak through the provision of loans with zero or very low interest rates. This will enable these companies to have access to liquidity to continue their activities in these difficult times. We continue to work in close cooperation with Member States to find workable solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules.”

The Croatian support measures

Croatia notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework two schemes, with an overall estimated budget of €1 billion, to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the two schemes, the public support will take the form of zero-interest loans and loans with subsidised interest rates, respectively.

The schemes aim at enhancing access to liquidity by those companies which are most severely affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, thus ensuring the continuation of their activities.

The Commission found that the Croatian measures are in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) zero-interest loans do not exceed the nominal value of €800,000 per company as foreseen by the Temporary Temporary Framework, and (ii) subsidised loans have a limited size, maturity and interest rates. This ensures that support is available at favourable conditions and limited to those beneficiaries who need it in this unprecedented situation. To achieve this goal, the measure also involves safeguards to ensure that the aid is channelled effectively to the beneficiaries in need.

The Commission therefore concluded that the Croatian measures are 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.