The European Commission has today authorised an Irish scheme to allow the Government to provide state grant aid to companies having problems accessing credit.

Under the scheme, the Government can allocate sums of up to €500,000 to companies in the form of direct grants, reimbursable grants, interest rate subsidies and subsidised public loans to businesses facing funding problems because of the credit crunch.

The Commission has ruled that the initiative will not affect competition and is allowable under existing European legislation 'which permits aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy'.

The scheme applies only to companies who were not facing funding difficulties on July 1, 2008.