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Brussels, 2 nd June 2009

State aid: Commission endorses Italian reduced interest rate loan scheme to boost real economy

The European Commission has authorised under EC Treaty state aid rules an Italian scheme aimed at firms that encounter financial difficulties as a result of the credit squeeze in the current economic crisis. The measure allows national, regional and local authorities to grant aid in the form of reduced interest rates on loans concluded by 31 December 2010. 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, it is limited in time and only applies to companies that were not in difficulties before 1 July 2008. The scheme 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 Italian measure aims at improving the liquidity of companies affected by the current economic downturn, without causing undue distortions of competition. A significant reduction in the cost of loans can be an effective way of encouraging business investment and economic recovery ."

The Italian authorities designed this measure in accordance with the rules set out in the Commission's Temporary Framework (see IP/08/1993 ). The scheme is limited in time and only applies to companies that were not in difficulties before 1 July 2008. It is part of a wider set of measures that Italy is putting in place under the Temporary Framework, of which three other measures have been authorised by the Commission this week (see IP/09/825 and IP/09/852 ).

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under case number N 268/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website. 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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