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Brussels, 25th February 2009

State aid: Commission authorises Hungarian temporary schemes to grant aid of up to €500 000 and reduced-interest loans

The European Commission has, under the state aid rules of the EC Treaty, authorised two aid measures for businesses planned by Hungary to deal with the current economic crisis. The first measure will enable aid of up to €500 000 to be granted in 2009 and 2010 to businesses facing funding problems because of the credit squeeze. The second scheme allows granting aid in the form of reduced interest rates on loans of any duration concluded by 31 December 2010. Both schemes meet 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). They are 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’.

"These schemes will help alleviate the difficulties faced by Hungarian businesses affected by the current situation without giving rise to any undue distortions of competition”, said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. “The Commission was able to approve the measures very quickly thanks to the excellent cooperation of the Hungarian authorities."

The first scheme is based on the provisions of the temporary framework that deal 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 second scheme complies with the rules in the temporary framework that deal with aid in the form of subsidised interest rates. The low rates will be available for loans contracted no later than 31 December 2010, but only on interest payments up to 31 December 2012. After that date firms will have to pay market rates. The scheme does not apply to firms that were already in difficulty on 1 July 2008.

The decisions will be published in the State Aid Register on DG Competition’s website, under the reference numbers N 77/2009 and N 78/2009. The latest decisions on state aid published in the Official Journal and on the website are listed in the electronic newsletter State aid Weekly e-News.

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