Cyprus could adopt a scheme similar to France’s for providing relief to small and medium-sized businesses adversely affected by high electricity prices, the Commissioner for State Aid Control said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Commissioner said the French scheme “could be assessed and accordingly adapted for Cyprus, to the benefit of Cypriot small-to-medium-sized businesses.”

Back in April, the European Commission approved the €3.5 billion French scheme to support SMEs and microenterprises in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“Those companies are currently facing additional costs due to exceptionally severe increases in electricity prices, which cannot be passed on to their customers,” a Commission press release said.

Under the scheme, the public support consists in limited amounts of aid in the form of direct grants. The individual aid amount per company will be modulated based on its actual contractual price for 2023.

Eligible beneficiaries in France will benefit from a reduction on their electricity bill, by an amount that generally corresponds to the difference between their contractual price in 2023 and a reference one, applicable to half of the electricity actually supplied to them each month (capped at 90 per cent of their historical consumption).

The aid will be channelled through the electricity suppliers. The latter will in turn be compensated by the French state for the reductions awarded based on the aforementioned method of calculation.

Brussels found that the French scheme was in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework. In particular, the aid will not exceed €2 million per beneficiary, and will be granted no later than December 31, 2023. In addition, the public support will be subject to conditions to limit undue distortions of competition between suppliers, including safeguards aimed at ensuring that the advantages of the measure are passed on to the final beneficiaries.