European Commission approves €430 million Italian scheme to compensate ski lift operators for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €430 million Italian measure to compensate ski lift operators for the damages suffered due to the restrictive measures introduced by the Italian government to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which prohibited the access of the general public to ski lifts between 4 December 2020 and 30 April 2021.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The measures that the Italian government has had to take to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic required ski lift operators to stop their operations, resulting in considerable losses for them. This scheme will enable Italy to compensate ski lift operators for the damage suffered. We will keep working together with Member States to find the best solutions to support companies during these difficult times, in line with EU rules.”
Under the scheme, ski lift operators will be entitled to compensation in the form of direct grants for part of the damages incurred between 4 December 2020 and 30 April 2021. The Italian authorities will verify that there will be no overcompensation on the basis of the net losses incurred because of the pandemic. Italy will therefore ensure that no individual beneficiary receives more in compensation than it suffered in damages and that any payment in excess of the actual damage is recovered.
The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies or sectors (in the form of schemes) for damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences.
The Commission considers that the coronavirus outbreak qualifies as such an exceptional occurrence, as it is an extraordinary, unforeseeable event having a significant economic impact. As a result, exceptional interventions by the Member States to compensate for the damages directly linked to the outbreak are justified.
The Commission found that the Italian measure will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage.
The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules.