The Commission has authorised, under state aid rules, the first in a series of aid measures for businesses adopted by France to tackle the current economic crisis. The scheme will allow state, regional or local authorities, as well as certain public bodies, to grant aid of up to €500,000 in 2009 and 2010 to businesses which find themselves in difficulty as a result of the current economic crisis, or who are experiencing financing problems because of the credit squeeze.

The scheme is based on provisions which cap the maximum amount of aid at €500,000 per company and limits eligibility to businesses which were either not in difficulty on 1 July 2008, or which became so subsequently as a result of the economic crisis.

Commenting on the announcement, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that the measure would give a shot in the arm to businesses affected by the current economic situation without leading to undue distortions of competition. France is the second country, after Germany to avail itself of a new temporary framework which gives Member States additional possibilities for providing businesses with improved access to financing during the economic and financial crisis.