France to boost aid to firms in major difficulty due to energy crisis

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has promised faster and bigger state aid for companies hit hard by the energy crisis.

“There are firms that face an absolute emergency,” Le Maire told France 2 television on Wednesday. “We must win this battle because the survival of companies that are strategic for France is at stake.”

Le Maire said he has asked the European Union to bring forward state aid rule changes to allow the government to support struggling companies.

Major boost

While small- to medium-sized companies are entitled to subsidies of up to 2 million euros, Le Maire wants to double the amount of aid for larger companies.

Payments from that package of up to 100 million euros will be contingent on approval from the European Commission.

"We are moving in the right direction," said Le Marie, adding that increases in the amount of money being put up by the government to maintain energy prices at 2021 levels will need to be made by the end of October.

Le Maire said progress was already visible. He made the request to commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday.

The revision of the European energy framework, which is needed to implement new aid rules, is due to take place on 1 January 2023.

"This is much too late," said Le Maire, adding that some companies risked collapse if they were obliged to wait until next year for support.