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EU Commission Approves €210 Million Belgian Scheme to Support Travel Organisers Affected by COVID-19 Restrictions

Soon after the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union reached an agreement on the EU budget for the year 2022, it was announced that the Commission would continue its support for travel organisers.

The EU Commission announced yesterday, on November 17, that a €210 million Belgian scheme has been approved to support travel organisers that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The scheme, under which the aid will take the form of subsidised loans, was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to the Commission, this scheme aims to compensate travel organisers that issued vouchers for trips that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions and that now have to reimburse the monetary value of the vouchers to travellers.

Nonetheless, it has been emphasised that the loan amount for each beneficiary will not be higher than 80 per cent of the total value of the vouchers that have been issued. Moreover, the same has explained that all loans will have a fixed annual interest rate of three per cent and a maturity rate of five years.

“The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the maturity of the loans is limited to five years; the annual interest rates on the loans respect the minimum levels set out in the Temporary Framework; the loan amount per beneficiary is in line with what is foreseen by the Temporary Framework; the loans relate to working capital needs,” the Commission’s statement reads.

Additionally, it was concluded that the measure is appropriate, necessary, and proportionate to remedy the Member State’s economy. The loan contracts will be signed by December 31, 2021, at the latest.

Under the EU State aid rules, the EU Commission has also approved the plans by the city of Hamburg to grant €20 million of public support for the construction of electricity infrastructure at HafenCity’s cruise ship terminal in the port of Hamburg.

“The aid will take the form of a direct grant. The beneficiary of the aid will be the Hamburg Port Authority, which will own and operate the infrastructure,” the Commission explained.

This measure will enable cruise ships to use environmentally friendly electricity by switching off polluting generators while in the port. In addition, the measure is expected to reduce the air pollution and noise in Hamburg and will therefore be beneficial to the environment.

Previously, the Commission proposed to support 801 dismissed workers in Italy by allocating €5.4 million. These workers lost their jobs due to globalisation and restructuring.

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