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Commission approves €150 million Austrian subordinated loan to compensate #AustrianAirlines for damages suffered due to #Coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has found an Austrian €150 million subordinated loan (convertible into a grant) in favour of Austrian Airlines AG to be in line with EU state aid rules. The measure aims at partly compensating the airline for the damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. Austrian Airlines, which is part of the Lufthansa Group, is a major network airline operating in Austria. With a fleet of over 82 planes, Austrian Airlines served 130 destinations all over the world in 2019, carrying about 14.7 million passengers from its main hub, Vienna, and other airports to various international destinations.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Austrian Airlines has suffered a significant reduction of its services, resulting in high operating losses. Austria notified to the Commission an aid measure to partly compensate Austrian Airlines for the damage suffered from 9 March 2020 to 14 June 2020 resulting from the containment measures and travel restrictions introduced by Austria and other destination countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies or sectors for damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences. The Commission considers that the coronavirus outbreak qualifies as such an exceptional occurrence, as it is an extraordinary, unforeseeable event having significant economic impact.

As a result, exceptional interventions by the member state to compensate for the damages linked to the outbreak are justified. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the Austrian damage compensation measure is in line with EU state aid rules. Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The €150 million public support measure will enable Austria to partly compensate Austrian Airlines for the damage it directly suffered due to the travel restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The aviation sector has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak. We continue working with member states to discuss possibilities and find workable solutions to preserve this important part of the economy in line with EU rules.”

The full press release is available online.

Austria

Commission approves modified Austrian liquidity assistance scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has found certain amendments to a previously approved Austrian liquidity assistance scheme to support Austrian enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak to be in line with the State Aid Temporary Framework. The original scheme was approved on 8 April 2020 under case number SA.56840, and provides for temporary limited amounts of aid in the form of (i) direct grants, (ii) guarantees on loans and repayable advances, and (iii) guarantees on loans and subsidized interest rates on loans.

The aim of the original scheme was to enable enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak to cover their short-term liabilities, despite the current loss of revenues caused by the pandemic. Austria notified certain modifications to the original scheme, in particular: (i)micro or small enterprises can now benefit from the measure even if they were considered in difficulty on 31 December 2019, under certain conditions; and (ii)an increase of €4 billion in the total budget of the scheme, from €15bn to €19bn.

The Commission concluded that the scheme, as modified, remains 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.58640 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Austria

Commission approves €120 million Austrian scheme to support companies in #LowerAustria affected by #Coronavirus outbreak

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The Commission has approved a €120 million Austrian scheme to support companies in Lower Austria affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, public support will be provided in  the form of direct grants, guarantees and subordinated loans with subsidized interest rates. The measure is open to companies of all sizes active in all sectors, except the financial, agriculture, fishery and aquaculture sectors.

The aim of the measure is to facilitate access to external financing by the beneficiaries and to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages they are facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) with respect to the direct grants, aid will not exceed €800 000 per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) guarantees and subordinated loans under the measure fulfil the minimum levels for guarantee premiums and credit risk margins.

The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state and to fight the health crisis, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission has 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.58360 in the state aid public case register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Austria

#InvestmentPlan supports one of largest wind farms in Austria

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) and UniCredit Austria are investing €107.4 million to support the financing of one of Austria's largest wind farms. The entire wind farm will have a capacity of 143 MW and provide around 90,000 households with electricity produced from renewable sources. The project is expected to reach completion at the end of 2021.

The financing is supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “Today the European Union confirms its commitment to supporting renewable energy in Austria and to helping the country to meet its decarbonization targets. This financing under the Investment Plan for Europe will lead to the construction of a 143 megawatt wind farm, which will bring clean energy to around 90,000 households in the state of Burgenland. Through projects like this, we will reach the goals of the European Green Deal and achieve climate neutrality by 2050”.

The projects and agreements approved for financing under the Investment Plan so far have mobilized around €524 billion in investment, of which around €84bn for energy-related projects. The press release is available here.

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