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State aid: Commission approves €665 million Austrian scheme to support non-profit organisations and their related entities affected by the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €665 million Austrian scheme to support non-profit organisations (NPOs) and their related entities in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: 

In Austria there is a longstanding tradition and a wide variety of non-profit organisations ranging from small voluntary fire brigades to large alpine associations, from music orchestras to the Austrian Red Cross with over 1 million members. Altogether almost half of the Austrian population is a member of at least one of these organisations. This scheme will support the non-profit sector, which is critical to the Austrian community and culture.”

The Austrian support measure

Austria notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a scheme with an overall budget of €665 million to support NPOs active in Austria. The support will be granted by a fund established by the Austrian Government for this specific purpose and will be available to all types and sizes of NPOs, with some exceptions (e.g. financial sector and political parties).

Public events are an important source of funding for NPOs in Austria. The necessary emergency measures put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including the prohibition of public events, have affected the NPOs' access to funding and endangered their operations. Under the scheme, aid will take the form of direct grants to non-profit organisations and their related entities, with the aim of providing the liquidity support necessary to preserve their activities, which have been severely damaged by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the Austrian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will be limited to €100,000 per company active in the primary production of agricultural products, €120,000 per company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector and €800 000 per company active in other sectors and (ii) aid will be granted on 31 December 2020 at the latest.  

Furthermore, NPOs can have economic activities, non-economic activities, or both types of activities. State aid rules apply only where the beneficiary of the measure is an undertaking that is engaged in economic activities. The scheme provides that an NPO with both economic and non-economic activities must have separated accounts in place to ensure that the maximum aid amount for the support of the economic activities is not exceeded.

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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