25 August 2014
E-006345-14
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Alfred Sant (S&D)

Question:

Trade and investment is being disrupted by acts of war and civil strife in territories close to the European Union (Ukraine, Libya), whilst SMEs in a number of Member States that have developed long-standing commercial relations with these territories (such as between Malta and Libya) are being so badly hit that they face the threat of closure under the current economic conditions.

In view of the above, could the Commission consider waiving or amending state aid rules, when the governments of such Member States seek to apply national support measures, on a reasonable and transparent basis, in order to safeguard the continued existence of the SMEs concerned and their ‘traditional’ commercial relations with the territories in turmoil?

Answer:

15 October 2014

Answer given by Mr Almunia on behalf of the Commission

Following extensive consultations with Member States and stakeholders, the Commission completed in July 2014 the adoption of a series of instruments setting up a simpler, more flexible and generous state aid framework to provide support to SMEs. We do not have specific rules dealing with loss of commercial possibilities due to war or civil unrest however, we believe that, if exploited to the maximum, this new framework should provide all the necessary tools to react to changing market realities, including by providing support to SMEs in situations as the ones you describe.

The most flexible and easily deployable schemes may be designed in accordance with the de minimis Regulation 1407/2013, which allows Member States to grant up to EUR 200 000 for a rolling period of three years. For more targeted schemes, the wider range of block-exempted measures covered by Regulation 651/2014 offers many options for SMEs to receive support without prior notification to the
Commission.

Finally, the risk finance guidelines have been amended to enhance the incentives of private sector investors to increase their activities in SME financing. They go hand in hand with other EU initiatives designed to promote wider use of financial instruments in the context of new support programmes such as Horizon 2020 and COSME.