The European Commission has approved a 1.5 billion leva (about 770 million euro) Bulgarian wage subsidies support scheme for preserving employment in the sectors most affected by the confinement measures put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Commission said on April 15.
The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on March 19 2020, as amended on April 3, the Commission said.
Bulgaria had notified the Commission, under the Temporary Framework, of a wage subsidy aid scheme that would allow the Bulgarian authorities to finance 60 per cent of the wage costs (including the employers’ social security contributions) of undertakings that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, would otherwise lay off personnel.
The measure is restricted to undertakings active in the sectors most affected by the current public health crisis, such as retail, tourism, passenger transport, culture, sports activities, amusement and recreation activities and others.
The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme is in line with the Temporary Framework.
In particular, the measure will compensate the wage costs of undertakings active in sectors that are particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, provided that they commit to maintain in continuous employment personnel that would otherwise have been laid off, the aid intensity complies with the maximum 80 per cent allowed by the Temporary Framework and the aid scheme respects the maximum duration of 12 months.
EC Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “In these difficult times, preserving employment in sectors that are particularly exposed to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak is of utmost importance.
“It matters to the livelihoods of many workers and it will allow the European economy to bounce back strongly after the crisis.
“The Bulgarian scheme we approved will help thousands of workers to keep their jobs and undertakings to resume their activities as soon as the circumstances allow it. We work with member states to ensure that this is done in line with the EU rules,” Vestager said.
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(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)