Connect with us

coronavirus

EU must ease COVID-19 curbs slowly to avoid new wave, chief executive says

Published

on

The European Union must only lift coronavirus restrictions slowly and gradually to avoid another wave of infections, the head of the bloc’s executive said on Thursday (19 November), write and

Ursula von der Leyen spoke after the 27 national leaders discussed stepping up joint testing efforts in the bloc, doling out vaccines and coordinating easing lockdowns as a second wave of the pandemic weighs on Europe.

“We have all learned from the experience in the summer that the exit from a wave is very difficult and that lifting measures too hastily has had a very bad impact on the epidemiological situation in summer and fall,” she said.

“Therefore, this time expectations have to be managed. We will make a proposal for a gradual and coordinated approach to lifting containment measures. This will be very important to avoid the risk of yet another wave.”

Europe has had about 11.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 280,000 people have died, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The pandemic has also thrust the EU into its deepest recession.

“We need to learn past lessons and be cautious when we lift restrictions. It should be gradual and progressive. We all want to celebrate the end of the year holidays, but safely. Let’s ring in the new year safely,” said Charles Michel, chairman of the EU leaders’ talks.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the bloc needed a joint strategy for winter travel to avoid “a third ‘Christmas’ wave”.

Von der Leyen said her Commission was broadening its search of a vaccine through talks with Moderna and Novavax.

“And we are working on a vaccination campaign to support member states in the communication on the importance of vaccines. It is self-protection and it is solidarity,” she added.

Michel said the number of people sceptical of vaccination was growing in the EU and that the bloc would launch a campaign to convince them to change their minds. He said he hoped the bloc would get vaccines in 2021.

“Vaccination priorities are similar in most member states, first medical staff, then vulnerable persons,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists after the virtual EU leaders’ gathering.

coronavirus

Commission approves German scheme to compensate accommodation providers in the field of child and youth education for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

The European Commission approved, under EU state aid rules, a German scheme to compensate accommodation providers for child and youth education for the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme will compensate up to 60% of the loss of revenues incurred by eligible beneficiaries in the period between the beginning of the lockdown (which started on different dates across the regional states) and 31 July 2020 when their accommodation facilities had to be closed due to the restrictive measures implemented in Germany.

When calculating the loss of revenue, any reductions in costs resulting from income generated during the lockdown and any possible financial aid granted or actually paid out by the state (and in particular granted under scheme SA.58464) or third parties to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak will be deducted. At the central government level, facilities eligible to apply will have at their disposal a budget of up to €75 million.

However, these funds are not earmarked exclusively for this scheme. In addition, regional authorities (at Länder or local level) may also make use of this scheme from the local budgets. In any event, the scheme ensures that the same eligible costs cannot be compensated twice by different administrative levels. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the German scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damages. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules.

More information on 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.59228 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website.

Continue Reading

Austria

Commission approves Austrian measures to support rail freight and passenger operators affected by the coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, two Austrian measures supporting the rail freight sector and one measure supporting the rail passenger sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The two measures supporting the rail freight sector will ensure increased public support to further encourage the shift of freight traffic from road to rail, and the third measure introduces temporary relief for rail operators providing passenger services on a commercial basis.

The Commission found that the measures are beneficial for the environment and for mobility as they support rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission also found that the measures are proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to rail whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. Finally, the waiver of infrastructure access charges provided for in the second and third measures described above is in line with the recently adopted Regulation (EU) 2020/1429.

This Regulation allows and encourages member states to temporarily authorize the reduction, waiver or deferral of charges for accessing rail infrastructure below direct costs. As a result, the Commission concluded that the measures comply with EU state aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on state aid for railway undertakings (the Railway Guidelines).

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The measures approved today will enable the Austrian authorities to support not only rail freight transport operators, but also commercial passenger operators in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. This will contribute to maintaining their competitiveness compared to other modes of transport, in line with the EU Green Deal objective. We continue working with all member states to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.”

The full press release is available online

Continue Reading

coronavirus

Commission approves €5.5 million Estonian scheme to support companies active in tourism sector affected by coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

By

The European Commission has approved a €5.5 million Estonian scheme to support companies active in the tourism sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants and will be open to accommodation providers, travel agencies, tourism attraction operators, tourism service providers, international coach service providers, conference organizers and tourist guides.

The purpose of the measure is to mitigate the sudden liquidity shortages that these companies are facing because of the restrictive measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of the virus. The Commission found that the Estonian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €800,000 per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2021.

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 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.59338 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Twitter

Trending