The European Commission has approved a €600 million ($668.1 million) Finnish aid scheme to support maritime companies impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The aid scheme will take the form of State guarantees on working capital loans and will be accessible to maritime operators that are essential for maintaining the security of supply to Finland during the coronavirus outbreak. The funds are intended to help these firms cover immediate working capital needs, maintain employment and have sufficient liquidity to continue their activities. The measure will be directly operated by the Finnish State Treasury.
“This €600 million Finnish guarantee scheme will help those maritime companies that transport essential supplies to Finland and are affected by the current coronavirus crisis to cover their immediate working capital needs and continue their activities,” said Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.
“This is the first scheme we have approved specifically designed to support the maritime sector in these difficult times,” Vestager said.
The Commission found that the Finnish measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on March 19, 2020, as amended on April 3 and May 8, 2020. In particular: (i) the underlying loan amount per company is limited to what is needed to cover its liquidity needs for the foreseeable future, (ii) the guarantees will only be provided until the end of this year, (iii) the guarantees are limited to a maximum six-year duration, and (iv) guarantee fee premiums comply with the minimum levels foreseen by the Temporary Framework; (v) the risk taken by the State is limited to up to 90%.
The Commission concluded that the Finnish 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 set out in the Temporary Framework.