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Commission approves €21 million Czech aid to support environmental clean-up of site of former refinery in #Ostrava

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a Czech measure to support the environmental clean-up of the former OSTRAMO refinery. All industrial activities of the refinery, located in the Czech city of Ostrava, ceased in 1997. Despite the closure and termination of activities of the refinery, the site is still contaminated, in particular by petroleum hydrocarbons which are normally present in crude oil.

The support, with a budget of approximately CZK 600 million (approximately €21m), will take the form of a direct grant to the lessee of the site of the former OSTRAMO refinery, Global Networks s.r.o. The measure is intended to support the decontamination of the soil and the demolition of buildings necessary for the remediation of the contaminated site itself. The Commission assessed the measure under EU state aid rules, in particular the Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020. The Commission found that the measure will protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impact, in line with the European Green Deal. The Commission also found that the aid is limited to the minimum necessary and that the positive effects of the aid on the environment and public health outweigh any potential negative effect brought about by the public intervention. Finally, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with the “polluter pays principle”. Pursuant to this principle, the costs of measures to deal with pollution should be borne by the company who causes the pollution. Therefore, aid for the decontamination of sites can be granted only if the beneficiary company is not responsible for the pollution. In this case, the Commission concluded that the aid beneficiary is not responsible for the contamination.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number SA.55522 once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Coronavirus: First rescEU ventilators dispatched to Czechia 

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Following a request for assistance from Czechia, the EU is immediately sending a first batch of 30 ventilators from rescEU - the common European reserve of medical equipment set up earlier this year to help countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As President von der Leyen (pictured) said: “Czechia is facing one of the most difficult situations in Europe right now. The number of coronavirus cases is rising rapidly. And it needs medical equipment to treat patients in hospitals. We do not leave our European friends alone in these hard times. The European Commission is mobilizing medical material through our Civil Protection Mechanism. I called the Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to tell him that we are dispatching rapidly to Czechia a set of 30 ventilators from our RescEU reserve. We created this reserve in record time in spring, to stockpile essential medical material that we can send to European countries in need. And we are in touch with other EU countries, to mobilize more ventilators for the Czech Republic. We are in this together.”

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič added: ”We have been working around the clock to avoid a repetition of the situation experienced at the end of February, when whole EU was overwhelmed in the fight against the pandemic. We created the rescEU medical reserve so no member state is left alone when dealing with the same challenge. After already delivering protective face masks across Europe, this will be the first time the European Commission is dispatching ventilators from the EU level reserve."

The EU's Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre is in constant contact with authorities in Czech and more EU assistance can be channelled in the coming days via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, coming from member states. In order to give member states time to assess their response capacity and taking into account the gravity of the situation in the Czech Republic, the EU has proactively initiated the rescEU deployment of medical reserve. The full press release is available online.

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Commission approves €2.3 million Czech scheme to support health SPA facilities affected by coronavirus outbreak in the Karlovy Vary Region of Czechia

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The European Commission has approved a CZK 62 million (approximately €2.3m) Czech scheme to support providers of SPA medical procedures and curative rehabilitation treatments in the Karlovy Vary Region (Czechia) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that health SPAs in the region are currently facing due to the drop in the number of patients caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

This scheme complements a scheme to support health SPA facilities in the whole of Czechia that the Commission approved in August 2020  (SA.58018). The Commission found that the Czech scheme for the health SPA facilities in the Karlovy Vary Region is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €800,000 per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2021.

The Commission concluded that the scheme 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 of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure 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.58198 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Commission approves €305 million Czech scheme to support self-employed affected by #Coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved an around €305 million (CZK 8 billion) Czech scheme to support the self-employed that have been particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support, which will be open to self-employed active in all sectors except the financial one, will take the form of waivers of payments and penalties and deferrals of payments of mandatory monthly health insurance contributions for the period from March to August 2020 (which means payments due in the period from April to September 2020).

The aim of the scheme is to address the liquidity needs of the self-employed in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the Czech scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

In particular, for waivers of payments or penalties, (i) the amount of aid will not exceed €100,000 per company active in the primary production of agriculture products, €120,000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and €800,000 per company active in all other sectors; and (ii) the scheme is limited in time until 31 December 2020. As regards the temporary deferral of payments of public health insurance contributions, they will be granted until 31 December 2020 and the end date for the deferral will be no later than 31 December 2022.

The Commission concluded that the 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. 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.57358 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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