The European Commission has approved the second Spanish “umbrella” scheme to support the Spanish economy 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:
“The second Spanish “umbrella” scheme will enable Spain to give more support to the economy in this crisis. This includes support for the research and development, the testing and the production of coronavirus relevant products. It also includes wage subsidies and deferrals of tax and social security contributions, helping companies maintain employment. We continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a timely, coordinated and effective way, in line with EU rules”.
The Spanish umbrella scheme
Following the approval by the Commission of a first Spanish “umbrella” scheme on 2 April, Spain notified to the Commission under the Temporary Frameworka second National Temporary Framework for State aid to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The measure allows for the provision of aid in light of the amendments to the Temporary Framework approved by the Commission on 3 April 2020. More specifically, under this second “umbrella” scheme public support can be granted in the form of (i) aid for coronavirus relevant research and development, including Seal of Excellence projects relating to coronavirus selected under Horizon 2020; (ii) investment aid for testing and upscaling infrastructures; (iii) investment aid for the production of coronavirus relevant products; (iv) aid in the form of deferrals of tax and/or of social security contributions; and (v) aid in the form of wage subsidies for employees to avoid lay-offs during the coronavirus outbreak.
The notified measure also expands the form of aid that can be granted under the first National Temporary Framework approved by Commission on 2 April, as support can also be granted in the form of guarantees, subsidised interest rates, as well as equity for a nominal amount of up to €100,000 to a company active in the primary agricultural sector, up to €120,000 to a company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector and up to €800,000 to a company active in all other sectors.
The measure allows aid to be granted by Spanish authorities at all levels, including central government, regional and local authorities. The measure is targeted at SMEs and large corporates and applies to the whole territory of Spain.
The Commission found that the Spanish measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid will cover a significant share of the investment costs necessary for the development and testing (up to first deployment prior to mass production) of coronavirus relevant innovative products and treatments, as well as the investment costs for production of coronavirus relevant innovative products. Spain will ensure that the rules for cumulation of aid are respected across all measures under the Temporary Framework and granting authorities. Furthermore, aid may be granted under the measure only to undertakings that were not in difficulty on 31 December 2019. Finally, aid can be granted only until the end of this year.
The Commission concluded that the Spanish scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy both a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, as well as contribute to fight the health crisis, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU, Article 107(3)(c) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.
On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU State aid rules.