The European Commission has approved an approximately €2.9 billion (PLN 13 billion) Polish State aid scheme to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises active in certain sectors, including the retail, hospitality, leisure and transport ones, affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Many companies in Poland, as in the rest of Europe, have seen their revenues significantly decline because of the national emergency measures necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus. This Polish scheme will help these micro, small and medium-sized companies face their fixed costs that are not covered by revenues during 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 Polish support measure
Poland notified to the Commission a scheme called “Financial Shield for SME 2.0”, which will provide support to companies operating in sectors such as retail, hospitality, leisure and transport, among others, affected by the measures introduced by the Polish government in November 2020 to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The scheme consists of two measures: (i) limited amounts of aid for micro-enterprises; and (ii) support for uncovered fixed costs for small and medium-sized companies. Under the scheme, Poland plans to provide economic assistance to help micro, small and medium-sized companies face their liquidity shortages related to the coronavirus outbreak. The total estimated budget of the scheme is approximately €2.9 billion (PLN 13 billion).
Under the scheme, support will take the form of repayable advances. The beneficiaries of the aid must record a minimum of 30% reduction of turnover from 1 April 2020 until 31 December 2020, or a part of it, as compared to the same periods in 2019. Limited amounts of aid for micro-enterprises will amount up to approximately €73,000 (PLN 324,000) per company, depending on the number of employees. The aid to small and medium-sized companies will be limited to 70% of the uncovered fixed costs incurred during the period from 1 November 2020 until 31 March 2021, and will not exceed approximately €780,000 (PLN 3.5 million) per company.
The Commission found that the Polish scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. With regard to the limited amounts of aid for micro-enterprises, the overall nominal value of the aid shall not exceed €800,000 per undertaking. With regard to the support for uncovered fixed costs for small and medium-sized companies, the amount of the aid will not exceed 70% of the uncovered fixed costs incurred during the period from 1 November 2020 until 31 March 2021, and will not exceed €3 million per undertaking. For all beneficiaries, the support will be granted until no later than 30 June 2021 and only to companies that were not considered to be in difficulty on 31 December 2019, with the exception of micro and small companies that are eligible even if already in difficulty on 31 December 2019. Finally, Poland will ensure that the rules for cumulation of aid provided under the Temporary Framework are respected across all measures.
The Commission concluded that the aid measures under the scheme 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 aid measures under EU State aid rules.