European Commission approves €20 million Portuguese credit line scheme to support fishery and aquaculture sector in coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved a Portuguese scheme to support the Portuguese fishery and aquaculture sector 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 Portuguese scheme will enable the provision of loans worth up to €20 million at subsidised interest rates to small and medium-sized enterprises active in the fishery and aquaculture sector. It will help these companies cover their immediate liquidity needs and continue their 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 way, in line with EU rules.”
The Portuguese support measures
Portugal notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a €20 million credit line scheme to support companies in the fishery and aquaculture sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The public support will consist in the provision of loans worth up to €20 million with subsidised interest rates, to help companies active in the fishery and aquaculture sector (such as fishing companies, producers’ organisations and companies active in the processing of fishery and aquaculture products) overcome cash difficulties arising from the current crisis.
The scheme, which will be accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, aims at enabling those companies that are most affected by the current crisis, to have access, at reduced costs, to the financial means they need to maintain their activities.
The Commission found that the Portuguese measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular: (i) the loan contracts will have to be signed by 31 December 2020 and are limited to maximum six years, (ii) the total amount of the loan granted per company shall not exceed 25% of its total turnover in 2019, with some exceptions in duly justified cases, and (iii) the underlying loan amount per company is limited to what is needed to cover its liquidity needs for the foreseeable future.
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 and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.
On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules.