This article has been saved to your Favorites!

EU Proposes Adding More Support For COVID-19 Aid

By Bryan Koenig · 2020-03-27 19:51:38 -0400

The European Commission floated another update Friday to its temporary framework permitting certain types of aid by bloc members aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic, with proposed expansions to support for research and development, testing facility construction, and health care products manufacturing.

The commission, the executive branch of the European Union, said it plans on getting the latest tweaked framework in place by next week, building on measures like direct grant authorizations, which have already increased from a maximum of €500,000 allowed to €800,000 ($853,000). Already the commission said it has made over a dozen state aid decisions under the temporary framework, clearing 22 different measures to provide companies "much needed liquidity."

"Managing the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak requires decisive, fast and — most importantly — coordinated action. EU state aid rules provide a toolbox for member states to help companies in this difficult time," Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "We will add to this toolbox to enable member states to support companies that develop, test and produce much needed products to fight the coronavirus, such as vaccines, medical devices and protective equipment."

The commission's announcement, while vague on details, proposed permitting additional aid to research and development to combat the pandemic, along with more support to build and upgrade product-testing facilities that make vaccines and equipment, and to make products relevant to tackling the outbreak that include vaccines and medical equipment. For all three types of aid, the commission said member states can provide even more assistance if countries cooperate across borders.

For both testing facility construction and product manufacturing, the commission also said member states can provide no-loss guarantees as an incentive to get business to invest.

Two more measures floated Friday for member to states to weigh in on cover tax payment deferrals or the suspension of employer social security contributions, as well as wage subsidies, to avoid outbreak-related layoffs in areas or sectors "hardest hit."

"Finally, the commission has today decided to temporarily remove all countries from the list of 'marketable risk' countries under the short-term export-credit communication," the agency said. "This enables member states to make available public short-term export credit insurance in light of the increasing insufficiency of private insurance capacity for exports to all countries in the current coronavirus crisis."

As of Friday, the World Health Organization counted more than 23,000 deaths globally from the disease, with over 500,000 confirmed cases. In Europe, the WHO reported over 80,000 cases in Italy and more than 8,100 deaths, while France had over 28,000 cases and roughly 1,700 deaths, and Germany had over 42,000 cases and more than 250 deaths.

--Editing by Gemma Horowitz.

For a reprint of this article, please contact