State aid: EU Commission approves €500 million Belgian guarantee scheme to support internationally active companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a Belgian guarantee measure, with an indicative budget of €500 million, for companies with export activities affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as on 3 April 2020 and 8 May 2020. Following the approval by the Commission of a Belgian loan guarantee scheme on 11 April 2020, Belgium notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a €500 million guarantee scheme to supportinternationally active companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The support, in the form of State guarantees on loans, will be accessible to companies whose exports represent at least 30% of their annual turnover and will be implemented by the Credit-Export Agency “Credendo”, acting on behalf of the State.

The support concerns State guarantees on loans with a maximum maturity of one year and offers to companies with international activities the possibility to substitute guarantees on loans eligible under the previously approved Belgian guarantee scheme with the Credendo guarantee. The measure will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies that face economic difficulties and liquidity shortages due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure will support lending to eligible companies, but will not take the form of export aid contingent on export activities as it is not tied to concrete export contracts. On the contrary, it finances the general activity of the beneficiaries by facilitating their access to liquidity in the form of working capital loans and investment loans. The scheme aims at limiting the risk associated with issuing loans to internationally active companiesaffected by the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, thus ensuring the continuation of their activities.

The Commission found that the Belgian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. The Commission concluded that the Belgian 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 measures under EU State aid rules.

More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57187 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

Arianna Podesta –