COVID-19: European Commission authorises a Belgian aid scheme for the hotel sector in Brussels

On 9 October 2020, the European Commission gave the green light for the establishment of a Brussels aid scheme to support the hotel sector (in particular, hotels and aparthotels) in view of the health crisis. This aid scheme, with a budget of EUR 15.8 million, has been approved on the basis of the Temporary Framework on State Aid.

Under the scheme, direct grants of EUR 20,000 to EUR 200,000 will be awarded to beneficiaries to compensate for the loss of income and operating costs incurred. The Brussels-Capital Region has made the granting of these subsidies subject to certain eligibility conditions, such as having an active and non-suspended registration number, having valid certificates for town planning and fire safety on 7 July 2020, or having complied with the obligation to publish annual accounts.

The measure is intended to mitigate the liquidity shortages faced by these companies as a result of the restrictive measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of the virus and to ensure the continuity of their economic activities.

The Commission found the Belgian measure to be in line with the conditions laid down in the Temporary Framework for limited amounts of aid. In particular, the aid (i) cannot be granted to companies that were in difficulty on 31 December 2019, (ii) must not exceed EUR 800,000 per company in Belgium and (iii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2020.

The European Commission recently decided to extend the Temporary Framework until 30 June 2021 (recapitalisation measures can be implemented until 30 September 2021) and to widen its scope. Many more public support measures will be adopted, across all economic sectors, in view of the impact of the health crisis on the economy.

Marguerite Soete, Associate, Brussels

Annabelle Lepièce, Partner, Brussels