We hope the mentioned good practice case will encourage other governments and policymakers to do the same in their respective countries. Exhibitions and trade shows are the fastest of fast-tracks to economic recovery once the coronavirus crisis has passed and will deliver the best return on investment now. We sincerely thank UFI, EEIA, and EMECA for providing valuable information.
CASE STUDY: THE NETHERLANDS
The Netherlands was one of the most aiding countries when it came to the meetings and exhibitions industry. Their financial aid helped the industry persevere.
Measures related to public guarantees, loans, tax deferrals:
On 29 May 2020, under EU State aid rules, The Netherlands set up a new development finance institution named “Invest International”. Invest International was be set up as a joint venture between the Dutch State and the existing Dutch development finance institution FMO. The Dutch State granted a start-up capital of up to €800 million and has since provided yearly subsidies of €9 million. Invest International will have as objectives to support the foreign trade and international cooperation objectives of the Dutch authorities by supporting entrepreneurs and international projects in low-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries. The scope of Invest International’s activities will provide additional financing to companies and projects that otherwise remain underfinanced because of market failures.
Concretely, Invest International will focus on improving access to finance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), certain small-mid caps and local public authorities for the execution of projects that are in line with Invest International’s objectives. The Commission found that the creation of Invest International is an appropriate and proportionate solution to provide additional financing to companies and projects that otherwise remain underfinanced because of market failures. Furthermore, Invest International will implement safeguards to ensure that the state-supported institution does not crowd out private financial institutions.
Expenditure measures (direct grants):
On 29 June 2020, a Dutch scheme, with an estimated budget of €1.4 billion, to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak was announced. The public support took the form of direct grants of up to €50,000 per company. The scheme has been open to SMEs active in all sectors. The purpose of the scheme is to address the liquidity needs of companies affected by the current crisis and to help them to continue their activities, start investments and maintain employment during and after the outbreak.
Expenditure measures (direct grants):
On 12 February 2021, the Commission approved, under EU state aid rules, a €38.7 million Dutch scheme to support zoos in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme consists of two measures covering the periods from 18 March to 14 May 2020, and from 15 May to 30 September 2020, respectively.
On 16 March 2021, the Commission confirmed that subsequent modifications to a scheme aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak were in line with the state aid Temporary Framework. The scheme initially approved in June 2020 and subsequently modified in November 2020 and February 2021, was extended to large enterprises and its budget increased to around €2 billion from €970 million originally. The amendments also provide that additional aid may be granted to companies active in the non-food retail, travel and agricultural sectors.
On 30 March, the European Commission approved a €400 million Dutch loan scheme to support companies providing travel packages and services in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. Under the state aid Temporary Framework, the support, in the form of a loan, aims to enable the beneficiaries to provide consumers with a cash refund equal to the value of previously issued vouchers, at the consumers’ request.