European Commission approves €10 billion French guarantee scheme to support domestic credit insurance market in coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €10 billion French guarantee scheme to support the domestic credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The €10 billion French guarantee scheme will make sure that domestic trade credit insurance can continue to be issued. This will protect the liquidity needs of French companies and will help them carry on their commercial activities in these difficult times. We continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a coordinated and effective manner, in line with EU rules.”

The French support measure

France notified to the Commission a State guarantee scheme supporting the insurance of domestic trade affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The total budget of the measure is estimated at €10 billion.

Trade credit insurance protects companies supplying goods and services against the risk of non-payment by their clients. Given the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the risk of insurers not being willing to issue this insurance has become higher. The French scheme ensures that trade credit insurance continues to be available to all companies, avoiding the need for buyers of goods or services to pay in advance, therefore reducing their immediate liquidity needs.

The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, and in particular Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures implemented by Member States to remedy a serious disturbance in their economy.

The Commission found that the scheme notified by France is compatible with the principles set out in the EU Treaty and is well targeted to remedy a serious disturbance to the French economy. In particular, (i) the guaranteed insurance products are offered only to compensate for the lack of sufficient private offer, (ii) the guarantee will only be provided until the end of this year, (iii) the guaranteed insurance products can be offered by all credit insurers in France, (iv) the guarantee mechanism ensures risk sharing among its users, and (v) guarantee fee premiums provide a sufficient remuneration for the French State.

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 general principles set out in the Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU State aid rules.

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