The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, in coordination with the federal states, presented further improvements being made to the (in German) at yesterday's Special Conference of Ministers for Economic Affairs. At the meeting, the federal states expressly welcomed and unanimously adopted the greater flexibility that will now be introduced for the November and December Assistance.
The new EU State aid framework, which the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has strongly been supporting in Brussels, opens up new scope for companies applying for the November and December Assistance and affords them a comprehensive right to choose. Specifically, companies are free to select which State aid framework they want their application to be based on. For example, the new damage compensation scheme under State aid law: (“aid to make good the damage caused by disasters or exceptional occurrences”) no longer requires proof of losses incurred and additionally allows for lost profits to be taken into consideration. Further room for manoeuvre also results from the increase of the aid ceilings to €1.8 million for the framework for small amounts of compatible aid, and €10 million for the provision on support for uncovered fixed costs.
said: "I am pleased that our efforts in Brussels have been successful and that we are able to provide businesses with new scope for funding and greater flexibility regarding the November and December Assistance. Applications for November and December Assistance for funding of up to €1 million are increasingly being submitted. In total, more than €5 billion has already been disbursed. The new EU State aid framework now provides new scope for funding, especially for applications with high financing needs exceeding €1 million. We are fully implementing the new scope introduced while granting companies a comprehensive right to choose. This means that each company can choose which State aid framework it wants to base its application on. This allows companies to choose the best route for them to get through this crisis. Applications for over €1 million will be able to be submitted no later than mid-March."
Minister for Economic Affairs of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia and Chairman of the Conference of Ministers of Economic Affairs, Professor Andreas Pinkwart, said: "The Ministers for Economic Affairs of the federal states yesterday unanimously welcomed the fact that the various November and December assistance programmes have now been integrated into one programme each. This is because the right to choose being granted under State aid law gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to make flexible use of the room for manoeuvre provided and to obtain higher amounts of funding assistance. It is now important to ensure that the funding conditions and programmes are communicated in a clear and transparent way so that the urgently needed aid will reach the business community quickly."
In many cases, it may make sense from a company's point of view to base the application on the new damage compensation scheme, which – in addition to losses – also allows for lost profits to be taken into account and thus more damage to be mitigated. This increased flexibility comes as a great relief to many companies and also to the tax advisors involved in putting together the application.
In recent weeks, the European Commission has significantly increased the flexibility for the provision of national coronavirus assistance based on two new decisions it has taken on State aid. On 28 January 2021, it considerably increased the maximum amounts for coronavirus assistance. According to this decision, small amounts of compatible aid of up to €1.8 million (previously: max. €800,000) and support for uncovered fixed costs of up to €10 million (previously: max. €3 million) may in future be granted under coronavirus assistance. These improvements are to be passed on to the companies. On 22 January 2021, the European Commission had also approved the granting of the November and December Assistance on the basis of a new damage compensation scheme.
In particular, companies with larger financing needs can now choose which State-aid framework they want to base their applications for the November and December Assistance on. The following State aid frameworks can be used:
- Framework for small amounts of compatible aid, and de minimis Regulation for amounts of up to €2 million.
- Scheme to support uncovered fixed costs for amounts of up to €10 million. Proof of losses to the amount of the grants claimed is required; grants of 70% (or 90% for small and micro enterprises) of the uncovered fixed costs can be applied for.
- Damage compensation scheme (unlimited amount): proof of damage caused by the officially imposed lockdown decided on 28 October 2020 (including its extension) is required. In addition to losses, lost profits can also be taken into account.
Companies are free to decide on which State aid framework they choose to base their application. For applicants wishing to use the new options made available, this means the following:
- If an applicant has already received the full funding amount of 75% of their November or December turnover on the basis of the previously applicable State aid regime (small amounts of compatible aid of up to €800,000 and de minimis aid of up to 200,000 euros), no further action on their part is required.
- If an applicant has already received the full funding amount on the basis of the previously applicable State aid regime, but subsequently wishes to base their application on a different basis under State aid law (e.g. on the damage compensation scheme in order to save up their small amount of compatible aid for Bridging Assistance III), they can submit a corresponding request to change their application.
- If an applicant has not yet received the full amount requested because they have already exhausted their previous small amount of compatible aid (incl. de minimis aid), they can submit a request to change their application (and choose the State aid scheme to be applied). Any aid already received in November or December will be taken into account.
- If the applicant has not yet been able to receive the full amount applied for because they have a higher funding need than the current maximum of €1 million, they can submit a request to change the application (and choose the State aid scheme to be applied), and apply for the amount that has not yet been disbursed to them. Any November or December Assistance already received will be taken into account.
As is required by procedural law, the notification of changes made to small amounts of compatible aid and the scheme to support uncovered fixed costs in order to adjust them to the new EU State aid framework is also under way. A decision from Brussels is expected soon.