The European Commission said on Wednesday it "has approved an approximately EUR 2.9 billion (PLN 13 billion) Polish state aid scheme" to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak in sectors including retail, hospitality, leisure and transport.
The EU executive added it was giving the green light to the support under temporary state aid rules it originally adopted in March and then amended several times over the course of the year.
Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of competition policy, was quoted as saying that "many companies in Poland, as in the rest of Europe, have seen their revenues significantly decline because of national emergency measures" aiming to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Vestager added that the Polish measure, known as "Financial Shield for SME 2.0," would help micro, small and medium-sized companies face fixed costs "not covered by revenues during these difficult times."
Poland’s government last month pledged billions in additional help for firms hit by coronavirus curbs amid a second wave of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the time that the "Financial Shield 2.0" package would be worth at least PLN 35 billion (EUR 7.8 billion, USD 9.3 billion), including PLN 3 billion for micro-enterprises, PLN 7 billion for small and medium-sized businesses, and PLN 25 billion for large companies in nearly 40 sectors.
Help will include non-refundable subsidies, downtime pay, exemptions from social insurance contributions and additional social security benefits for employees, according to officials.
Earlier this week, the EU executive cleared EUR 650 million worth of Polish state aid to the national air carrier LOT, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Source: PAP, europa.eu