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Brussels, 7th May 2009

State aid: Commission authorises Czech temporary scheme to grant compatible aid of up to €500 000

The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a Czech Government measure to help businesses to deal with the current economic crisis. Aid of up to €500 000 per firm may be granted till the end of 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 scheme is limited in time, respects the relevant thresholds and applies only to companies that were not in difficulty on 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.

"The Czech scheme will help to alleviate difficulties faced by businesses affected by the current economic crisis without giving rise to any undue distortions of competition”, said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The 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 over the period 2009-2010 and the scheme applies only to businesses which were not in difficulty on 1 July 2008.

The aid will be available inter alia in the form of direct grants, reimbursable grants, interest rate subsidies, subsidised public loans and public guarantees. Under the scheme, limited amounts of compatible aid can be granted as from its approval by the Commission until 31 December 2010.

The scheme is the second Czech measure authorised under the Temporary Framework for state aid and forms part of a wider national set of measures ("Český přechodný rámec") aimed at boosting the Czech economy. The first measure was a scheme to grant reduced-interest loans (see IP/09/699)

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N 236/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.

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