Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission announced plans to phase out temporary COVID-19 aid framework that was adopted in March of 2020.
The EC pointed out in a statement on Wednesday that it will not extend the framework beyond the end of June, the current expiry date.
“The existing phase-out and transition plan will not change, including the possibility for member states to provide specific investment and solvency support measures until 31 December 2022 and 31 December 2023, respectively,” the body noted.
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, stressed that the temporary framework helped member states to provide support to businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.
She pointed out that the framework restricted aid to companies in need and preserved competition on the single market.
The EC approved close to 950 national measures, Vestager reminded, worth an estimated 3 trillion euro.
“All aid approved to date has been necessary and proportionate… of course one thing is the amount of aid notified by member states and approved by the Commission, and another thing is the aid actually spent,” she pointed out.
Roughly one quarter spent
Vestager noted that roughly 730 billion euro was spent between March 2020 and June 2021 of the more than 3 trillion euro in approved aid.
She added that the epidemiological situation in Europe is improving as the number of new COVID-19 infections is under control and authorities are gradually lifting restrictions.
This relaxation is helping the economy, Vestager pointed out, which is why the EC decided against extending the temporary aid framework.
She added that the EC is prepared to provide support and guidance to member states during the phase-out and stressed that the body will “continue to closely monitor future developments and will act fast again if the need arises.”
Vestarger warned that the war in Ukraine is disrupting economies in Europe and beyond, announcing that the EC will continue supporting Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.
She stressed that the EC’s Temporary Crisis Framework helps member states to provide support to companies and sectors affected by the geopolitical crisis.
“It will be in place until 31 December 2022 and the Commission will assess before that date if it needs to be extended, while keeping the content and scope of the framework under review in the light of developments regarding the energy markets, other input markets and the general economic situation,” Vestager concluded.