The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €300 million Austrian scheme to support organisers of events affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Today’s decision confirms the agreement in principle reached in December 2020.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Event organisers have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of the virus. This €300 million aid scheme will enable Austria to provide support to these companies when a planned event is cancelled or can only be organised with restrictions, due to the coronavirus. We will continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a coordinated and effective way, in line with EU rules.”
The Austrian support measure
Following the approval of several Austrian State aid schemes to support companies facing economic difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak, Austria notified to the Commission a scheme to further support event organisers under the Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, Austria plans to provide economic assistance to all undertakings (including self-employed individuals, associations and institutions) that will organise events taking place in Austria between 1 February 2021 and 31 December 2022 and that will have to be cancelled or organised with significant restrictions, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Companies active in the primary production of agricultural products, in fisheries and aquaculture, in the coal, steel, synthetic fibres and shipbuilding sectors, as well as financial institutions, are excluded from the measure. The public support will take the form of direct grants and the scheme has an estimated budget of €300 million.
The aid will be granted before the planned event date, following the submission by applicants of a business and financial plan demonstrating that the event has the prospect to be organised successfully. However, the aid will be paid out only in case the event is either cancelled or organised with significant restrictions, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The total maximum aid amount is limited at €800,000 per beneficiary, irrespective of the number of events for which the same beneficiary receives aid. The measure aims to encourage event organisers to re-start planning and organising events, also under the current uncertain circumstances.
The Commission found that the Austrian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €800 000 per beneficiary; and (iii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2021.