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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.

Austria

Europe needs more robust plan to deal with foreign fighters, Austria says

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The European Union needs a more robust and coordinated plan for dealing with foreign fighters and those who want to join their ranks like the jihadist who killed four people in Vienna last week, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday (9 November), writes Francois Murphy.

Protecting the bloc’s borders should also be part of Europe’s response to Islamist militancy, which Kurz will discuss with the leaders of France, Germany and the European Union today (10 November), he told a news conference.

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Traumatized Vienna silent after gun rampage

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Vienna’s streets lay eerily silent and empty under tight security on Tuesday afternoon (3 November), less than 24 hours after four people were killed in a gun rampage by a convicted jihadist in the busy city centre, writes .

On what was also the first day of a second national coronavirus lockdown, only the occasional car or van could be seen travelling along the broad, tree-lined avenues in front of the University of Vienna, City Hall, and Parliament, and very few pedestrians.

The area around the Stadttempel Jewish synagogue, where the attack began, was still cordoned off and guarded by police with their weapons at the ready, while armed officers controlled cars along the motorway leading to and from the airport.

Those forced to venture outside for work spoke of their shock over the violence.

“It’s crazy, everyone is worried. A life is not worth anything anymore,” said taxi driver Huseyin Gueluem while waiting for passengers at Vienna Airport.

Still visibly shaken by the night’s events, Gueluem compared the violence to militant attacks in Turkey. “Terror is terror, it knows no religion or state,” he said.

A newspaper vendor at the airport who wanted to remain anonymous also spoke of the mental toll.

“It’s all a bit much,” he said. “The attack, the new lockdown, I did not sleep at all tonight.”

Only journalists and a handful of curious residents had come to the area around the synagogue.

“Something like this was to be expected, even in Vienna,” said Josef Neubauer, who lives in Vienna. “It’s a big city. Berlin, Paris - it was just a matter of time.”

Some feared what the social impact of the attacks would be.

“These people want to make Islam bigger and bigger but in fact they make it smaller and smaller,” said student Zaccaria Assalmonashev. “And so they destroy it.”

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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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