Europe has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many European countries now slowly easing out of lockdown. The economies of every country have taken a huge hit as companies have been forced to furlough workers.
Many EU countries have formulated their own responses to the epidemic, including financial support for companies. While most of that is geared towards industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as travel and tourism, CBD companies based in these countries may also be able to apply for economic help.
The European Commission has also outlined a €750bn coronavirus recovery plan, but it could be months before that money is released as it still needs the approval of the EU Parliament and Council.
In France businesses with less than 250 employees can request a three-month deferral of tax payments and social security contributions, as well as suspending rent and utility expenses. Employers are reimbursed 100% of the salaries of any employee furloughed due to COVID-19. Smaller companies with up to ten employees and less than €1m in revenue can get €1,500, which may be extended up to €5,000 depending on further conditions. The French state has also said it will guarantee up to €300bn in total bank loans. Companies can apply for loans of up to three months of revenue or two years of salaries, with no repayments required in the first year.
In Germany, the KfW, the state-owned bank, is guaranteeing 80% of the risk of low-interest commercial loans of up to €200m. Any company that was not facing financial difficulties as of 31st December 2019 is eligible to apply. Companies can also apply to defer tax payments. In addition, the government is giving one-time grants to small companies (including farms) that have been affected by the virus. Companies with no more than five employees can get a €9,000 grant for three months, while those with up to ten employees can get €15,000.
Small and medium-sized companies in Switzerland hit by COVID-19 can get bridging credit up to a maximum of 10% of their annual turnover and no more than CHF20m (€18.75m). Credits of up to CHF500,000 (€465,000) will be secured by the government and no interest will be charged. Credits that exceed the threshold will be secured by 85% of their value by the government. Companies with more than CHF500m (€465m) are not covered.
Small and medium-sized companies registered in the Netherlands can apply for a €4,000 reimbursement if they can demonstrate a loss of income due to necessary closures, travel restrictions, or meeting restrictions. Businesses that are struggling with their fixed costs and have a turnover loss of more than 30% can get help with things such as rent and insurance, up to €20,000. Businesses can also defer tax payments for three months. Those that have trouble paying employees can be reimbursed for up to 90% of wages, depending on how much income the company has lost. In addition, the state is guaranteeing 75% of loans made to companies with less than 250 employees. Other loan guarantee schemes are also in place.
The fiance bank of Austria, Wirtschaftservice (AWS) is guaranteeing 80% of bank loans for companies with less than 250 employees and up to €50m in sales. Smaller companies can receive financial assistance through the WKO hardship fund. Businesses can also apply for grants to cover fixed costs. Employers can be reimbursed 80-90% of the wages of employees whose working hours have been cut due to COVID-19.
The Spanish government introduced a €200bn relief package which includes guaranteeing loans to a total of €100bn. Social security contributions have been lifted for small and medium-sized companies which have not laid off workers, allowing workers to reduce their working hours by up to 100% if necessary.
Small companies in Italy that are in debt can access a number of relief measures. The government has injected €750bn into the economy, a portion of that being to guarantee 90-100% of debt for small businesses, and 70-80% for larger firms. Tax payments are suspended.
In Greece, tax liabilities and social security contributions have been suspended until the autumn. Debt payments have also been suspended, and some specific businesses can have 40% of their rent covered for March and April 2020.
Small and medium-sized enterprises can receive a government credit guarantee of 80% for loans between €10,000 and €1m. Companies can also get a support loan from €25,000 up to €1.5m. Other schemes are in place for microbusinesses and larger companies. The Irish government is also subsidising the wages of employees as long as employers keep them on the payroll.
- Financial arrangements in the United Kingdom are detailed in a separate CBD-Intel briefing.
– Moriah Costa CBD-Intel contributing writer