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

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

Yesterday, November 17, the European Union Commission announced that a €210 million Belgian scheme has been approved to support travel operators affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The scheme, under which the aid will take the form of subsidized loans, has been approved under the Government’s Interim Framework, reports.

According to the commission, the scheme aims to compensate travel operators who have issued vouchers for flights canceled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and who now have to repay the cash value of the vouchers to travelers.

However, it has been emphasized that the loan amount for each beneficiary will not be more than 80 per cent of the total value of the vouchers issued. Further, the same made clear that all loans would have a fixed annual interest rate of 3 percent and a maturity rate of five years.

“The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set forth in the interim framework. In particular, the maturity of the loans is set at five years; the annual interest rates on the loans respect the minimum levels stipulated in the interim framework; the loan amount per beneficiary is in line with what has been foreseen In the interim framework; and the Commission’s statement stated that the loans relate to working capital needs.

In addition, it has been concluded that the measure is appropriate, necessary and proportionate to reform the economy of the member state. The loan contracts will be signed no later than December 31, 2021.

Under EU state aid rules, the EU Commission has also approved plans by the City of Hamburg to give €20 million in public support to build electricity infrastructure at the HafenCity cruise ship terminal in the port of Hamburg.

The assistance will take the form of a direct grant. The commission explained that the beneficiary of the assistance would be the Hamburg Port Authority, which would own and operate the infrastructure.

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

Previously, the Commission proposed to support 801 laid-off workers in Italy by allocating 5.4 million euros. These workers have lost their jobs due to globalization and restructuring.

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