EC approves €600 million Finnish guarantee scheme to support maritime companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved a €600 million Finnish aid scheme to support the maritime companies 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 and 8 May 2020.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €600 million Finnish guarantee scheme will help those maritime companies that transport essential supplies to Finland and are affected by the current coronavirus crisis to cover their immediate working capital needs and continue their activities. This is the first scheme we have approved specifically designed to support the maritime sector in these difficult times. We continue to work closely with all 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 Finnish support measure
Finland notified to the Commission under the Temporary Frameworka €600 million guarantee scheme to support maritime companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of State guarantees on working capital loans. The measure will be directly operated by the Finnish State Treasury.
The scheme will be accessible to those maritime operators that are essential for maintaining the security of supply to Finland during the coronavirus outbreak. The aim of the measure is to help these companies cover their immediate working capital needs, maintain employment and have sufficient liquidity to continue their activities, which are vital to safeguard maritime cargo traffic and ensure essential supplies to Finland.
The Commission found that the Finnish measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular: (i) the underlying loan amount per company is limited to what is needed to cover its liquidity needs for the foreseeable future, (ii) the guarantees will only be provided until the end of this year, (iii) the guarantees are limited to a maximum six-year duration, and (iv) guarantee fee premiums comply with the minimum levels foreseen by the Temporary Framework; (v) the risk taken by the State is limited to up to 90%.
The Commission concluded that the Finnish 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 measure under EU State aid rules.