EU approves coronavirus state support for Portugal, Poland, Greece

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission has approved a series of multi-billion-euro state support packages for Greece, Poland and Portugal to help soften the economic impact of the coronavirus through grants and loan guarantees.

The Commission, which enforces EU anti-trust regulation, loosened its rules last month to allow EU governments to support businesses and banks after factories began to fall quiet and Europeans were ordered to stay home to stop the virus spreading.

In a series of statements late on Friday and on Saturday, the Commission approved a 13-billion-euro state aid programme for the Portuguese economy, a 22-billion-euro plan of state guarantees for Poland and a 2-billion-euro scheme for Greece.

The schemes were judged not to distort EU competition.

"This Polish guarantee scheme will help Polish businesses affected by the current coronavirus crisis cover their immediate working capital and investment needs," Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

For Portugal, Vestager said the 13 billion euros would "enable Portugal to provide direct grants and public guarantees on loans to help small-and-medium-sized companies and large companies cover investment and working capital needs".

The Greek scheme allows for state guarantees on working capital loans, Vestager said.


(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Angus MacSwan)