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State aid: EU Commission approves €100 million Italian guarantee scheme to support SMEs in the agriculture, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors affected by the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €100 million Italian State aid scheme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors 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. Under the scheme, support will be granted by the State-owned ISMEA Guarantee Fund, through financial institutions, in the form of: State guarantees on investment and working capital loans; Direct grants, in the form of waiving of the applicable fee on guarantees awarded.

The scheme, which will be open to SMEs active in the agriculture, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors, aims at enabling those companies to have access to the financial means they need to cover their immediate working capital and investment needs and maintain their activities.

The Commission found that the measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the Italian economy, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU State aid rules.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €100 million scheme will enable Italy, through the provision of State guarantees, to support SMEs active in the agricultural, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors, which are currently experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme will help those businesses cover their immediate liquidity needs, and support them to continue their activities during and after the outbreak. Putting in place the necessary national support measures in a timely, coordinated and effective way, in line with EU rules, is of paramount importance in these challenging times.”

Arianna Podesta –