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European Programs for Business Relief During COVID-19 4-01-20
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April 1, 2020

European Programs for Business Relief During COVID-19

European Programs for Business Relief During COVID-19

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As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, the repercussions are visible: blank sailings, shuttered port terminals, spiked airfreight rates, reduced workforces. The pandemic has impacted the most essential business activities. In response, European governments are pivoting to provide substantial financial measures to assist small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses engaged in global trade.

Following is an overview of how businesses in Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, and the UK can apply for relief, loans, and deferments.


Denmark has opened a guarantee scheme for small and medium enterprises through Vækstfonden, the Danish state’s investment fund, plus a special program for companies with more than 250 employees. The schemes are available to Danish, Faroese, and Greenlandic companies.

  • For small and medium enterprises, the program guarantees new loans or operating credits.
  • The guarantee covers 70% of bank or leasing company losses and has a maturity of up to 7 years.
  • Terms include a foundation commission of DKK 2,500 and an annual commission of 1%.
  • For large companies, the program guarantees large corporate loans or credit to cover current or expected losses in revenue of at least 30%.
  • A large company can receive the guarantee many times under certain conditions.
  • The guarantee covers 70% of bank or leasing company losses and has a maturity of up to 6 years.
  • Financial institutions can apply for up to a 70% guarantee to hedge funding risks.

Learn more


The German government has announced a plan described as a “bazooka” in scale and impact, launched in tandem with German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) to provide liquidity assistance and risk assumption.

  • Germany’s finance ministry is offering a significant corporate loan program and an economic stabilization fund.
  • The fund receives €100 billion for corporate actions, €100 billion for the self-employed or freelance, €400 billion for guarantees, and can refinance KfW programs already underway.
  • For companies older than 5 years, an entrepreneur loan through KfW that includes 80% assumption of risk for financing partners is available up to €200 million.
  • The cap on eligibility for guarantees has been raised for companies with an annual turnover of up to €2 billion from €500 million.
  • For younger companies, a separate but similar start-up loan through KfW is available.

Learn more

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, temporary measures during COVID-19 allow for a job retention scheme as well as larger loans than usual under the business loan guarantee scheme, Garantie Ondernemingsfinanciering (GO). The scheme opens borrowing to medium and large companies with capital providers receiving a 50% guarantee from the Dutch government.

  • The expansion increases the amount of loan eligible for guarantee from €50 million to €150 million, increasing the guarantee itself from €25 million to €75 million.
  • The ceiling for GO has been increased from €200 million to €1.5 billion to accommodate current, new, and potentially new GO users.
  • The guarantee is available to companies with substantial activities in the Netherlands or Dutch Caribbean and from credit institutions authorized to conduct business as a bank.
  • Entrepreneurs are advised to turn to financiers affiliated with the GO scheme.
  • A job retention program, NOW, allows employers that expect a turnover loss of at least 20% to claim compensation of up to 90% of wages, depending on turnover loss.

Learn more about GO
Learn more about NOW

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has set out a broad range of measures to support public services, people, and businesses, including job retention, sick pay relief, deferred taxes, grants, and loans.

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available to all UK employers, allowing them to claim 80% of usual monthly wage costs for employees on leave, up to £2,500. The scheme also includes insurance and pension contributions.
  • For short-term cash-flow support, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers small and medium enterprises loans, overdrafts, invoice finance, and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The Interruption Loan is guaranteed by the government up to 80% on each loan.
  • A Business Interruption Payment complements the Interruption Loan by covering the first year of interest payments and lender fees to avoid upfront costs.
  • Paired with the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme, which allows flexible payment timing, the Interruption Loan can help bridge cash-flow gaps.
  • Forty accredited lenders, plus all major banks are able to offer the scheme to businesses with turnover of less than £45 million per year.
  • An automatic VAT deferral will apply from March 20, 2020 until June 30, 2020. No applications are required.
  • Self-employed Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on July 31, 2020 will be deferred until January 31, 2021.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) up to two weeks per eligible employee who has been out of work because of COVID-19.

Learn more

For guidance on how to prepare your supply chain amidst COVID-19 chaos, Flexport has in-house experts who can help you navigate economic disruptions and times of uncertainty. Get started now.

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