A government wage subsidy scheme to help companies and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic has been given the green light by the European Commission.

The €215 million scheme, which was unveiled last month, will see the government pay basic wages to workers and business owners who would otherwise have been laid off due to the pandemic slowdown.

EU state aid rules have been relaxed to allow member states to directly assist economic sectors to overcome the sudden crisis, with the European Commission having adopted a temporary framework guiding revised state aid regulations until December 2020.

The Commission said that Malta’s wage subsidy scheme is in line with conditions set out in that framework.

“The Commission concluded that the Maltese 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,” it said as it approved the measure.

Commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager said that the scheme “will help employers maintain jobs in these difficult times. Preserving employment and skills is of utmost importance for the European economy to be able to recover effectively once the health crisis recedes. We are working closely with member states to ensure that this is done in line with the EU rules”.

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