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ARTICLE22 December 2020

Joint letter about the COVID-19 situation to Commissioner Vesthager

The Confederation of Danish Industry and Swedish Enterprise have written a letter to Commissioner Vesthager about that the current COVID-19 situation should still be considered as an exceptional occurrence within the meaning of Article 107(2)(b), which refers to state aid. Please read the letter below. 

Photo: CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP

Dear Commissioner Vestager,

Europe is facing an extraordinary challenge from the outbreak of COVID-19. The current second wave of the virus has led to an unprecedented increase in restrictions on movement and contact in all Member States. Therefore, many businesses, particularly SMEs, are already facing, or will face, severe financial pressures during the coming months, and governments are trying to tackle the dire economic effects on businesses across the single market. In these exceptional circumstances the use of state aid plays an important role to ensure that as many companies as possible survive the present difficulties. 

The Confederation of Danish Industry and Swedish Enterprise fully recognize the huge efforts the Commission has taken to approve the many aid schemes notified by the Member State. The introduction of the Temporary Framework - which has been amended several times - has eased both the process and time perspective to the benefit of both Member States and business.

However; the Temporary Framework is not a “one size fit all” tool, which can accommodate all the needs of companies. Consequently, both the Danish and the Swedish government have designed aid schemes, which have been notified to and approved by the Commission directly under Article 107(2)(b) of the TFEU. It seems that the Commission has moved away from using this legal base. This is very unfortunately from a business perspective.

We believe that the current COVID-19 situation should still be considered as an exceptional occurrence within the meaning of Article 107(2)(b), and we urge the Commission to resume its former approach and allow Member States to use this instrument again to remedy the huge impact on businesses. As a second-best option, we will suggest a significant increase of the aid ceilings in point 3.12 (and point 3.1) in the Temporary Framework mirroring the aid ceilings in the cases approved by the Commission under Article 107(2)(b).  

Yours sincerely,

Lars Sandahl Sørensen, Director General, CEO,  Confederation of Danish Industry
Johan Britz, Deputy Director General, Swedish Enterprise          

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