BRUSSELS - The European Commission has authorized, under EC Treaty state aid rules, an Estonian measure to help businesses to deal with the current economic crisis. Aid of up to €500 000 per firm may be granted in 2009 and 2010 to businesses facing funding problems because of the current credit squeeze. The scheme meets the conditions of the Commission’s Temporary Framework for state aid measures, which gives Member States additional scope to facilitate access to financing in the present economic and financial crisis (see IP/08/1993 ). In particular, the aid is limited in time and scope and can be granted only to companies that were not in difficulties before 1 July 2008. It is therefore compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty, which permits aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The Estonian scheme will help alleviate the difficulties faced by businesses affected by the current situation without giving rise to any undue distortions of competition. The Commission was able to approve the measures very quickly thanks to the excellent cooperation with the Estonian authorities."
The Estonian scheme is based on the provisions of the temporary framework that deals with compatible aid of a limited amount. In particular, the maximum amount of aid does not exceed €500 000 per company and the scheme applies only to businesses which were not in difficulty on 1 July 2008.
The aid will be granted in the form direct grants, loans and public guarantees to be issued until 31 December 2010 at the latest. Under the scheme, limited amounts of compatible aid can be granted as from its approval by the Commission until 31 December 2010.
EC authorizes treaty aid to Estonia