1. General (high level principles agreement and background)
1.1 What is in the agreement?
The agreement comprises two pillars:
- The financial sector undertakes to allow viable non-financial businesses, SMEs, self-employed persons and non-profit organisations, and likewise mortgage borrowers, with payment problems due to the coronavirus crisis to delay payments (hereunder moratoria).
- The government activates two guarantee schemes for new loans and credit lines (but not refinancing loans) granted by banks:
- until 31 December 2020 to viable non-financial businesses, SMEs, self-employed persons and non-profit organisations with a maximum term of 12 months, on the basis of the Royal Decree of 14 April 2020 granting a State guarantee for certain loans in the fight against the consequences of the coronavirus (hereinafter “the first guarantee scheme”);
- until 31 December 2021 to small or medium-sized non-financial enterprises with a term of 12 to 5 years, on the basis of the Law of 20 July 2020 granting a State guarantee for certain loans to SMEs in the fight against the consequences of the coronavirus and amending the Law of 25 April 2014 on the legal status and supervision of credit institutions and stockbroking firms (hereinafter “the second guarantee scheme”).
 The first guarantee scheme initially guaranteed loans granted until 30 September 2020; this period was extended until 31 December 2020 by Royal Decree of 16 September 2020.
 The second guarantee scheme initially guaranteed loans granted until 31 December 2020 with a term of 12 to 36 months. The granting period was first extended until 30 June 2021 and subsequently until 31 December 2021 and the term to 5 years by Royal Decree of 24 December 2020, as amended by Royal Decree of 14 June 2021.
1.2 Why did the federal government (supported by the National Bank of Belgium) conclude this agreement with the financial sector?
The coronavirus does not only threaten our health, it also has a particularly severe impact on our economy. Despite the range of exceptional measures already taken by the federal government under the Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection to cope with the economic shock, many businesses, self-employed persons and individuals still face substantial fixed costs. They have to repay loans, pay rent and settle invoices, resulting in cash flow problems. We need to prevent sound businesses from going under, and households from encountering payment problems. That would trigger a negative spiral and make the current crisis even more serious. The agreement is intended to maintain the financing of the economy.
 Examples include delayed payment of personal income tax, payroll tax, VAT and social contributions. The rules on temporary lay-offs on account of force majeure were also relaxed, and a bridging entitlement was introduced for the self-employed..
1.3 When will the agreement come into effect?
1 April 2020 for the moratorium and the first guarantee scheme; 24 July 2020 for the second guarantee scheme.
 Publication date of the law of 20 July 2020 in the Belgian Official Gazette
1.4 Does the scheme also apply to listed companies?
Yes. A company’s eligibility for the moratorium or the guarantee schemes is not affected by whether or not it is listed.