The European Commission has approved a €50 million Italian aid scheme to support the production and supply of medical devices, such as ventilators, and personal protection equipment, such as masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits. The scheme will help Italy provide the necessary medical treatment to those infected, while protecting healthcare operators and citizens. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020. The Commission approved the scheme within 48 hours from receiving the notification from Italy.
Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "These are very difficult times, especially in Italy. We have to do what we can to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. The Italian scheme approved today, shortly after the adoption of our new State aid Temporary Framework, will support companies ready to produce and supply medical equipment and masks. These are needed urgently. We will continue to work with Member States to ensure timely, coordinated and effective action.”
The Italian support measures
Italy notified to the Commission a €50 million support scheme for the production and supply of medical devices and personal protection equipment under the Temporary Framework.
The scheme aims at increasing the market output of such devices and protection equipment, which has proven to be insufficient as a result of the peak in demand arising from the Coronavirus outbreak.
Under the scheme, financial support will be available to companies of all sizes which (i) set up new facilities for the production of medical devices and personal protection equipment; (ii) expand the production of their existing structures producing such equipment; or (iii) convert their production line to that effect. The beneficiaries of the support will make the products available to the Italian authorities at the market prices applied in December 2019, i.e. prior to the outbreak in Italy.
The aid will take the form of direct grants or repayable advances. The repayable grants will be converted into direct grants, if the beneficiaries supply the equipment and devices in an expedited manner to the Italian authorities.
The scheme will ensure swift and adequate support to companies ready to produce and supply medical devices and personal protection equipment and will incentivise rapid production and timely delivery of these essential products.
The Commission found that the Italian measure is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework for aid in the form of direct grants and repayable advances. In particular, under the scheme, the support will not exceed €800 000 per company as foreseen by the Temporary Framework.
The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.
On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU State aid rules.
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