State aid to support the economy in context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

On 23 March 2022,  the European Commission has adopted a Temporary Crisis Framework to enable Member States to use the flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions adopted by the EU and its international partners have severely affected the Russian economy.

These sanctions also take a toll on the European economy and will continue to do so in the coming months. The economic impact of this war must be cushioned in a coordinated manner and severely affected companies and industries must be supported.

With this in mind, the Commission will enable Member States to use the flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to tackle this unprecedented situation, while protecting the level playing field in the Single Market.

The Temporary Crisis Framework complements the existing State aid toolbox with many other possibilities already available to Member States, such as measures providing compensation to companies for damages directly suffered due to exceptional circumstances, and measures outlined in the Commission Communications on energy market developments.

The new framework will enable Member States to (i) grant limited amounts of aid to companies affected by the current crisis or by the related sanctions and countersanctions; (ii) ensure that sufficient liquidity remains available to businesses; and (iii) compensate companies for the additional costs incurred due to exceptionally high gas and electricity prices.

These types of measures will be available also to companies that qualify as being in difficulty, as they may face acute liquidity needs due to the current circumstances, arriving on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic. Sanctioned Russian-controlled entities will be excluded from the scope of these measures.

In order to preserve the level playing field in the Single Market, the new Temporary Crisis Framework includes a number of safeguards. Member States are also invited to include sustainability requirements for granting aid for the additional energy costs linked to the high gas and electricity prices.

To remedy the disrupted economy, three types of aid may be granted under the Temporary Crisis Framework:

  • Limited amounts of aid: Member States will be able to set up schemes to grant up to €35,000 for companies affected by the crisis active in the agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors and up to €400,000 per company affected by the crisis active in all other sectors. This aid does not need to be linked to an increase in energy prices, as the crisis and the restrictive measures against Russia affect the economy in multiple ways, including physical supply chain disruptions. This support can be granted in any form, including direct grants.
  • Liquidity support in form of State guarantees and subsidised loans: Member States will be able to provide (i) subsidised State guarantees to ensure banks keep providing loans to all companies affected by the current crisis; and (ii) public and private loans with subsidised interest rates.
    • Member States can grant State guarantees or set up guarantee schemes supporting bank loans taken out by companies. These would have subsidised premiums, with reductions on the estimated market rate for annual premiums for new loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (‘SMEs') and non-SMEs.
    • Member States can enable public and private loans to companies with subsidised interest rates. These loans must be granted at an interest rate, which is at least equal to the risk-free base rate plus specified credit risk premiums applicable to SMEs and non-SMEs respectively.

For both kinds of support, there are limits regarding the maximum loan amount, which are based on the operating needs of a company, taking into account its turnover, energy costs or specific liquidity needs. The loans may relate to both investment and working capital needs.

  • Aid to compensate for high energy prices: Member States will be able to partially compensate companies, in particular intensive energy users, for additional costs due to exceptional gas and electricity price increases. This support can be granted in any form, including direct grants. The overall aid per beneficiary cannot exceed 30% of the eligible costs, up to a maximum of €2 million at any given point in time. When the company incurs operating losses, further aid may be necessary to ensure the continuation of an economic activity. To that end, Member States may grant aid exceeding these ceilings, up to €25 million for energy-intensive users, and up to €50 million for companies active in specific sectors, such as production of aluminum and other metals, glass fibers, pulp, fertilizer or hydrogen and many basic chemicals.

The Temporary Crisis Framework will be in place until 31 December 2022.

All information about the state aid can be found here.

Quelle: European Commission