State aid: Commission approves prolongation and modification of the French “Fonds de solidarité” scheme for small enterprises in temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus outbreak
Daily News 15 / 04 / 2020
Source: European Commission Spokesperson's Service
The European Commission has found France's prolongation and modification of a previously approved scheme to support small and micro-enterprises as well as self-employed people affected by the economic repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak to be in line with EU State aid rules. The existing scheme, called “Fonds de solidarité” had initially been approved on 30 March 2020 under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020. Following the approval of the €1.2 billion French scheme, France notified to the Commission its prolongation and modification under the Temporary Framework. The measure has an estimated budget of €1.7 billion for March 2020 and €2.9 billion for April 2020. Similar to the first scheme, this support takes the form of direct grants to allow beneficiaries to face their operating costs in the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The beneficiaries are companies with a maximum of 10 employees and having a yearly turnover not exceeding €1 million. Companies are eligible when their business was closed by administrative decision as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, or when their monthly turnover in March and /or April 2020 dropped by 50% compared to their turnover in the same period last year. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.. 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 measures under EU State aid rules. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "With this amended scheme, France will increase support to small and micro-companies and self-employed people affected by the coronavirus outbreak to help them cover their operating costs and weather the crisis. This measure, approved under the extended State aid Temporary Framework, is another example of our close cooperation with Member States to ensure timely support to the economy through these difficult times.” The full press release is available online.