The Ministry of Finance has not submitted a new application for approval of Fixed Cost Grant II for domestic companies. Blümel holds the EU Commission solely responsible for blocking the Corona aid measures.
Finance Minister Gernot Blümel shows no willingness to compromise and thus escalates the conflict with the EU Commission over the fixed cost subsidy II. On Wednesday, he waived a reformulated application to the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in order to obtain approval. “We are obviously allowed to help Italians, Spaniards or French with Austrian tax money, but not Austrian companies,” he sums up instead.
The new fixed cost subsidy is subject to approval according to EU law. The EU Commission has made it clear several times that Austria’s justification for the aid is insufficient. One could not argue with a natural disaster, as was still possible with the first version of the fixed cost subsidy, but had to argue with a severe economic crisis. After all, there is no longer a lockdown, argued the head of the EU Commission’s representation in Vienna, Martin Selmayr. The most recent controversial issues were the maximum amount of funding – the commission insisted on 800,000 per company in most cases – and the duration of the measure.
Connection with the Vienna election campaign
According to Selmayr, in most cases support would be compatible with EU state aid law. Most recently he only pointed out that the Ministry of Finance had made mistakes in its application to Brussels. In the case of Corona aid measures for the state of Lower Austria, approval could be given within three days. The delay was now caused by the actions of the Ministry of Finance. However, the EU representative also hinted that he saw a connection with the Vienna election campaign, in which Blümel was running as the top candidate.
Criticism also comes from the opposition. NEOS boss Beate Meinl-Reisinger: “Blümel relies on clumsy anti-EU show instead of helping our companies. The fact that the aid often arrives slowly or is legally botched puts companies and jobs at risk. The finance minister must finally deliver and pay out the billions from the first aid package that have long been approved, instead of election campaigns. “
While the finance minister criticizes the EU bureaucratism almost every day, his own ministry had to make it clear that the aid of eight billion euros that had been targeted for fixed cost subsidy II was by no means used. By July, only 58.9 million euros of this had been paid out and a further 121.4 million euros approved.[QRWOT]
(“Die Presse”, print edition, 17.09.2020)