Belgium ranks fifth among EU members in making the most use of the temporary state aid flexibility authorised by the European Commission to combat the coronavirus crisis, the Commission revealed on Monday.
The Commission approved nearly €2 trillion in state aid, with the aim of encouraging public authorities to invest heavily in their crisis-hit economies. Belgium has already claimed 3% of that sum.
Belgium comes in behind Germany (51%), France (17%), Italy (15.5%) and the UK (4%). While the UK has politically exited the EU at the end of January, it remains in the EU's internal market until the end of the current year.
Poland follows Belgium at 2.5%, while other Member States account for between 0.5% and 1.4% of the approved total.
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Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is concerned about the big differences in percentages as well as the risk of distorting competition in the internal market and slowing down economic recovery, she told the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The EU is preparing a recovery plan which should make it possible to give more support to the most affected economies, the Commission observed. The EU has also already decided on an emergency aid package worth €540 billion.
Germany accounts for the lion's share of the aid granted under the approved temporary flexibility. However, the German companies receiving the aid indirectly help other EU companies with which they trade, given the significant integration of value chains on the continent, the Commission noted.
The Brussels Times