Commission approves changes to State aid scheme to support companies by up to EUR 1.8 million due to the epidemic
The European Commission decided on 10 March 2021 that the changes to the State aid scheme sought by Finland are compatible with the EU internal market. The State Aid scheme is one of the instruments available to the Finnish authorities to support companies during the coronavirus crisis. The key changes relate to the maximum amount of company-specific aid and the duration of the programme. The maximum amount of aid will rise from EUR 800,000 to EUR 1.8 million. The State aid scheme was initially set to expire in June 2021, but the Commission extended its validity until the end of 2021.
The objective of the scheme is to support companies suffering from sudden liquidity impairment or loss of liquidity due to the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, it allows companies to continue and develop their activities, and maintain employment.
The aid scheme enables the introduction of national business support measures in several administrative sectors in Finland. In addition to central government authorities, aid may be granted by local authorities. For example, Business Finland will make use of the flexibility offered by the State aid scheme on a case-by-case basis.
The amendments adopted by the Commission will also help the Finnish Government to plan and implement its enterprise funding policies at national level. For example, the Government’s proposal concerning the third application round of business cost support is based on the more flexible rules of the State aid framework.
Aid scheme based on temporary flexibility in EU State aid rules
The Finnish State aid scheme is based on the Commission’s temporary changes to the State aid rules adopted on 19 March 2020. The changes allow EU Member States to use the full flexibility provided by the State aid rules to support the economy during the coronavirus epidemic.
The Commission approved Finland’s original State aid scheme in April 2020. With the exception of the higher maximum amount of aid, the rules of the aid scheme will remain largely unchanged. For example, aid cannot be granted to medium-sized or large companies that were already in difficulty on 31 December 2019, that is, before the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.
Aid granted under the aid scheme may be granted in addition to de minimis aid. De minimis aid refers to aid that may be granted to companies by various entities up to a maximum of EUR 200,000 over three fiscal years.
All aid granted under a Commission decision must be reported to the Commission afterwards. The Commission also requires transparency related to aid granted under the Temporary Framework if its amount exceeds EUR 100,000. Member States must publish online all relevant information on each individual form of aid granted under the aid scheme, such as the beneficiary and the amount of the aid.
The amendments sought by Finland are based on the Commission’s Communication of 28 January 2021. Based on the Communication, the temporary State aid rules have been extended until the end of the year and the maximum amount of aid has been raised to EUR 1.8 million.
Olli Hyvärinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 396 3619
Elisa Fagerström, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 535 2628