I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 129 and 130 together.
My Department has developed a suite of supports for businesses impacted by Brexit and while it was thought unlikely the State would need to activate rescue and restructuring support it was considered prudent to design a Rescue and Restructuring (R&R) scheme as part of our overall contingency plan for Brexit impacted enterprises.
The R&R scheme was approved by the Commission in November 2017 and has been developed in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Rescue and Restructuring. Under the scheme, an undertaking in difficulty i.e. an undertaking who, without intervention by the State, will almost certainly go out of business in the short to medium term, could receive State aid under certain strict conditions. The scheme provides equity support of up to a maximum of €10m per enterprise and applies to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
In May 2018 the EU Commission approved an extension to the scheme to provide for Temporary Restructuring aid for companies with acute liquidity needs. Temporary restructuring allows for intervention before solvency has become an issue and would take the form of loans repayable over an 18 month period. In February 2019 the Commission approved amendment to the scheme to increase its nominal budget from €20m to €200m.
In light of the various possible outcomes of Brexit, it was considered prudent to secure Commission approval to increase the ceiling on the R&R scheme (including temporary liquidity support) to €200m. This is a precautionary measure to facilitate the Irish Government to provide targeted supports rapidly if required, to address potential impacts that could result in the loss of regionally significant employers.
To date there have been no applications for R&R. My Department is engaged in ongoing discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform who stands ready to act when and if necessary.
In the meantime, it was considered important that any regulatory requirements, such as state aid clearance, were addressed in advance as part of the Government’s Brexit contingency plans.