The challenges that many businesses face in accessing State supports due to the EU definition of 'Undertakings in Difficulty' is a matter the Department is very much aware. Over the last 2 months, the Department has made a number of formal written submissions to the Commission in relation to the difficulties that arise for enterprises, particularly those high growth/high performance start-ups which technically, under the EU definition, could have been deemed undertakings in difficulty under state aid rules, but are in fact viable going concerns. The State Aid Unit of my Department has raised this issue directly with the EU Commission during recent conference calls and my predecessor, Minister Humphreys, raised it with Commissioner Hogan during a recent conversation.
I therefore very much welcome the announcement by the Commission on 29th June 2020 of its adoption of the 3rd amendment to the Temporary Framework. This amendment allows for support to be granted under the Temporary Framework to micro and small enterprises (up to 50 employees with less than EUR 10M annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet), even if they fall under the category of an undertaking in difficulty on 31 December 2019 provided that they are not subject to collective insolvency procedure under national law and have not received rescue or restructuring aid which has not yet been repaid). Such aid is also intended to increase support possibilities to innovative start-ups in the high growth phase which are micro or small in size.
This amendment will apply retrospectively to schemes already developed under the Temporary Framework, including the EI Sustaining Enterprise Fund.