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EU countries, UK handed out 228 billion euros to COVID-hit companies in 2020

·1-min read

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU countries and Britain granted 227.97 billion euros ($228 billion) in state aid in 2020 to support companies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Poland and Greece topping the list, the European Commission said on Thursday.

The Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer in the European Union, temporarily loosened its rules on state aid in March 2020 to allow governments to help businesses ranging from hotels to airlines to transport companies.

The temporary rules ended in June this year. Britain withdrew from the bloc in January 2020.

The EU executive said Poland and Greece had the largest share of COVID state aid expenditure relative to their 2020 national gross domestic product, amounting to 3.8% and 3.6% respectively.

Germany granted pandemic state aid equal to 1.9% of its GDP.

"The temporary measures adopted were proportionate and necessary, matching the economic damage suffered during the crisis," Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

($1 = 0.9989 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee)