This past Friday, the European Commission approved a €2 billion-euro aid package to help Greece cope with the economic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. According to the news, the measure will be implemented through the issuance of guarantees by the Hellenic Development Bank (HDB) to financial intermediaries.
The aid scheme is open to all Greek undertakings with the exception of financial intermediaries, such as banks, undertakings active in aquaculture, in agriculture and in sectors non-eligible by the European Regional Development Fund.
The move helps by granting of guarantees on loans to help businesses cover immediate working capital needs. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, had this to say in the announcement:
“This Greek scheme of €2 billion euros we approved today enables the granting of guarantees on working capital loans to help Greek businesses cover immediate working capital needs and continue their activities in these difficult times.”
Reuters reported the European Commission approving multi-billion-euro state support packages for Greece, Poland, and Portugal in order to help soften the economic impact of the coronavirus through grants and loan guarantees.
Margrethe Vestager, who is also the European Commissioner for Competition, is well known for her tough stance on digital competition fairness. The commissioner has been called, “the most powerful regulator of Big Tech on the planet,” because of her stance on big internet players and their market controlling practices. In 2016, her office fined Apple $14.5 billion for tax evasion and forced Google to pay $9 billion for a series of illegal, market-controlling practices.
Three weeks ago Vestager proved to be one of the world’s most proactive leaders when she called for decisive, coordinated action by the EU and member states so that businesses could remain liquid.
Also last week, the IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, speaking at a rare joint news conference with the leader of the World Health Organization (WHO) told attendees the coronavirus pandemic will end up being being “way worse” than the global financial crisis of 2008 – 2009. She called the situation “humanity’s darkest hour.”