What rules has the European Commission introduced?
The Commission has provided guidance as to measures which Member States can introduce without notification. These include:
- Measures which apply to all businesses within a Member State (for example the furloughing measures introduced by the UK Government)
- Measures providing support direct to consumers
- Measures which are already exempt from the notification requirement (discussed further below).
To respond to the crisis the European Commission has also issued a temporary framework to provide a basis for emergency aid to be notified for approval. The framework is initially in place until 31 December 2020. The Commission continues to keep this under review and has twice widened its scope to allow more types of aid to be notified. The type of measures covered include:
- The provision of guarantees (including guarantees for 100% of loans)
- The provision of loans at low interest rates, at zero interest rates or subordinated to senior debt
- Measures to support liquidity needs or to alleviate difficulties caused by the current crisis
- Measures to recapitalise businesses
- Measures to assist sectors hit particularly hard by the current crisis (eg transport)
- Measures targeted at COVID-19 such as research and development or production of products related to tackling the virus
The Commission has approved a UK Government “umbrella” notification to allow UK public authorities to adopt the measures permitted by the Commission framework. Therefore public authorities in the UK can use the Framework without notifying individual measures or schemes to the Commission.