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State aid: EU Commission approves €2 million Dutch rescue aid to the ice skating arena Thialf

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Dutch plans to grant a temporary €2 million loan to Thialf OG B.V., a public ice skating facility located in Heerenven (Friesland region), which is currently experiencing financial difficulties.

These difficulties are linked to insufficient revenues from visitors and pre-date the coronavirus outbreak. EU State aid rules, more specifically, the Commission’s Guidelines on rescue and restructuring aid allow Member States to support companies in difficulties, provided, in particular, that the public support measures are limited in time and scope and contribute to an objective of common interest.

In the present case, the Commission considered that the loan is limited to the company’s liquidity needs until the end of 2020. Furthermore, the Netherlands committed to ensure that, after six months, the loan will either be fully repaid, or Thialf will undertake a comprehensive restructuring in order to return to viability in the long term or be liquidated.

The Commission also found that the aid contributes to an objective of common interest. In this respect, the measure, by allowing Thialf to keep operating, will avoid a market failure as the recreational services offered by Thialf cannot be replicated by other skating facilities located nearby.

On this basis, the Commission concluded that the rescue loan is limited in time and scope and its positive effects outweigh any potential distortions of competition brought about by the public intervention in line with the Guidelines.

More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.57274.

Arianna Podesta –