The outbreak of COVID-19 has already led to multiple social and economic consequences. In recent weeks, the European Commission has launched numerous packages of measures and legal initiatives to combat this crisis. CEEP played an active role in this process and provided input on various occasions.
In addition to numerous position papers, discussions and initiatives – such as the “SGIs facing COVID-19” platform – CEEP has expressed concrete positions on individual topics. In this context, we had addressed to the European Commission, and particularly to Executive Vice-President Vestager and Commissioner Breton our interrogations regarding the scope of the Temporary Framework of State aid for Services of General (Economic) Interest and the need to reconsider the current SME definition, which are particular urgency for the Public Service Board.
The particular problem that Services of General (Economic) Interest are facing in this crisis is recognized by the European Commission and our general concerns are shared. With regard to the scope of the Temporary Framework on State aid, we meanwhile have certainty that all aid schemes of the European Commission apply to both the public and private sectors. This is a great success, as no distinction is made in the ownership structure. Instead, the aid measures are focused on the respective sector that needs aid.
As the service sector was and is particularly affected by the crisis, we are pleased that the European Commission has set the right priorities. Aid programmes such as the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by the European Central Bank and the measures of the Temporary Framework of State aid can be mentioned in this context. Regarding the current SME definition, the Commission has taken note of our concerns. However, the SME aid already in place will not be extended to public SMEs facing the current crises. There is, nonetheless, the possibility for Member States to include LPSEs in their national aid schemes for targeted SME aid. The Public Service Board is currently collecting examples of companies affected by the SME definition in order to address this issue specifically to the Commission. You are invited to send your examples to email@example.com.