EU backs support for SMEs hit by Brexit
The European Commission has approved a €10m Irish Government scheme that can be tapped to support restructuring of SMEs affected by Brexit.
The Commission signed off on the scheme yesterday, saying it is in line with EU State aid rules.
Employers' group Ibec welcomed the decision, calling it a "significant step in demonstrating to companies that the Government is putting contingencies in place in the event of a hard Brexit".
"In the event of a hard Brexit, support for a broader temporary state aid framework, moving past a focus just on restructuring, will be needed," Ibec head of tax and fiscal policy, Gerard Brady, said.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, inset, gave the all clear to the scheme, saying it will help SMEs in financial difficulty restore their competitiveness, while preserving competition in the Single Market.
"Small and medium-sized companies are the backbone of our economy and it is good that we have been able to endorse this Irish scheme to support SMEs that get into difficulties.
"These smaller companies employ a lot of people and this scheme should help them preserve jobs without unduly distorting competition," she said.
Under the scheme, which will run until 2020, Enterprise Ireland can offer restructuring support to small and medium-sized companies in financial difficulty, especially if a company's failure would trigger job losses.
The support will be in the form of equity investments and will be available to SMEs active in all sectors of the economy, excluding steel, coal and finance.