The European Commission has approved a BGN 1.5 billion (approximately €770 million) Bulgarian wage subsidies support scheme for preserving employment in the sectors most affected by the confinement measures put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020, the European Commission said in a press release.

Bulgaria notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a wage subsidy aid scheme that would allow the Bulgarian authorities to finance60% of the wage costs (including the employers’ social security contributions) of undertakings that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, would otherwise lay off personnel. The measure is restricted to undertakings active in the sectors most affected by the current public health crisis, such as retail, tourism, passenger transport, culture, sports activities, amusement and recreation activities and others.

The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme is in line with the Temporary Framework. In particular, the measure will compensate the wage costs of undertakings active in sectors that are particularly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, provided that they commit to maintain in continuous employment personnel that would otherwise have been laid off, the aid intensity complies with the maximum 80% allowed by the Temporary Framework and the aid scheme respects the maximum duration of twelve months.

The Commission therefore concluded that this measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.