Eligibility Requirements

A. ELEGIBILITY to participate in PLAN2021.eu

Participation in PLAN2021.eu is granted to legal entities regardless of industry, company, or organizational form, provided that the participants are willing to make the commitment to undertake future-oriented activities in the areas of human resources, digitalization and sustainability and to implement corresponding measures in the period between 2021 and 2027.

Eligible participants are basically:

Eligibility to apply for liquidity protection requires the following criteria:

  • compared to the average of annual revenues in 2017, 2018, 2019.

An enterprise is defined as any legally independent entity (with its own legal personality), regardless of its legal form, which is economically active on the market and has at least one employee on the reference date of Jan. 01, 2020. 

Solo-self-employed persons and self-employed members of the liberal professions must be engaged in their main occupation, i.e. they must have generated at least 51% of the total income from their self-employed or freelance activities in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In the case of civil law associations and companies of other legal forms without other employees (in addition to the owners), at least one shareholder must work for the company as a main occupation.

In the case of companies, only one of the shareholders is entitled to apply on behalf of the company. Solo self-employed persons and self-employed members of the liberal professions may submit only one application, regardless of how many business premises they have.

Both amateur and professional clubs are eligible to apply, provided they meet the application criteria.

An institution under public law is a legal entity under public law with material resources and personnel, which is held by a public administration body and serves a public purpose on a permanent basis.

  • Can authorized participants enter data themselves?

Yes, authorized participants can register and enter data themselves.

  • Can authorized participants apply for PLAN2021 themselves?

No, the submission can only be made through a tax advisor, auditor or certified public accountant and is only possible through their confirmation of the eligibility to apply, the decrease in revenue and the current fixed costs.

  • Can non-profit organizations also participate?

Non-profit organizations are also entitled to make an application if they are public companies.

  • Can public companies also participate in PLAN2021?

Public companies whose shares are wholly or by majority owned by the public sector are generally entitled to participate. This also applies to companies with a legal form under public law, including public corporations.

  • Can agricultural enterprises also participate?

Yes, eligibility is also granted to agricultural primary production if participation criteria are met. 

  • What applies to start-ups?

Only companies founded before June 1, 2019 are eligible to participate. Younger companies do not meet the eligibility requirements.

Continuation of a business by a successor or at a different location, a change of name, a transformation, or a change from part-time to full-time employment are not considered start-ups. 

  • Are there special regulations for small companies?

No.

  • Does anything change in the assessment if a company is transferred by way of universal succession?

No.

  • How to proceed in case of change in the company’s structure?  

The decisive factor in each case is the company’s structure on January 1, 2020.

It is generally not possible to consider the revenues and fixed costs of companies and parts of companies that have already been sold or are no longer part of the group of companies or have permanently discontinued their business operations at the time of application. 

This means that if business premises or affiliated companies cease to exist between January 1, 2019 and December 2020, their revenues and costs must be eliminated; if affiliated companies are added between January 2019 and December 2020, they can either be included or eliminated (in the case of purchase based on the predecessor’s documents).

  • What are affiliated companies according to PLAN2021.eu?

Which companies are considered affiliated companies is based on the EU definition. Affiliated companies are companies that meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • an enterprise holds the majority of the shareholders’ or partners’ voting rights of another enterprise;
  • an enterprise has the right to appoint or remove a majority of the members of the administrative, management or supervisory bodies of another enterprise;
  • an enterprise is entitled to exercise a controlling influence over another entity pursuant to a contract concluded with that entity or to a clause in its articles of association;
  • an enterprise that is a shareholder or partner of another entity exercises sole control over the majority of the voting rights of that other entity’s shareholders or partners pursuant to an agreement concluded with other shareholders or partners of that other entity.

Basically, the following applies:

If a legal entity or a natural person is the sole shareholder of several operating limited liability companies, these companies are affiliated companies.

In this case, the companies must indicate that they are part of a group of companies, but they apply for liquidity protection individually.

  • What must be considered in the case of a submission for affiliated companies?

Affiliation to a group of companies must be indicated when entering data, even if each company among the affiliated companies is eligible to participate and submits an application for liquidity protection on its own.

  • How are revenues and fixed costs determined for cross-border affiliated companies?

Only the revenues, fixed costs and employees of EU domestic companies and permanent business premises can be taken into account.

  • How are payments within the group of companies to be considered?

Payments within a group of companies cannot be financed.

B. SHOCKFREEZING-qualified costs

  • How is the applicable number of employees determined?

The number of employees of a company or freelancer should be based on the number of employees in full-time equivalents as of the reference date Jan. 01, 2020 (basis: 40 working hours per week). The following factors should be taken into account when determining the full-time equivalents: 

  • employees up to 20 hours                                        factor 0.50,
    • employees up to 30 hours                                        factor 0.75,
    • employees over 30 hours                                         factor 1.00,
    • basic jobs and student employees                            factor 0.30.

Seasonal workers, employees on maternity/parental leave and other comparable employees are taken into account if they were also employed in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Apprentices are not considered as employees.

The owner is not an employee.

  • Is a shareholder-managing director of a limited liability company to be treated as an owner or as an employee?

The shareholder-managing director is to be counted as an employee if he/she is classified as an employee under social security law.

  • What costs can basically be “frozen”?

In PLAN2021.eu, ongoing operational fixed costs without input tax (except for small businesses) that are incurred in the SHOCKFREEZING period can be taken into account. These costs must be contractually justified or officially determined by the authorities and cannot be unilaterally changed. Costs are considered to be non-unilaterally changeable if the underlying contractual relationship cannot be terminated or reduced in scope within the SHOCKFREEZING period without risking the continuation of operations.

Costs are incurred in the SHOCKFREEZING period if the contractual due date lies in the SHOCKFREEZING period (including contractually agreed down payments). The timing of the contractual due date is determined solely by the date on which the invoice is first issued (the timing of further requests for payment, the date of payment or the date of balancing are not relevant). These fixed costs must have been substantiated under private law or sovereign law before January 1, 2020, unless otherwise stated. 

Contract adjustments after January 1, 2020 that result in an increase in costs in the SHOCKFREEZING period or a shift of costs to the SHOCKFREEZING period will not be considered. Conversely, fixed operating costs will also be considered to have been substantiated prior to Jan. 1, 2020 if they were substantiated in substance before that date, but measures to reduce costs in the SHOCKFREEZING period result in a contractual adjustment after Jan. 1, 2020 (e.g., change of telephone provider or relocation to a less expensive office).

Not eligible for funding are deferred costs previously claimed under other non-repayable subsidy programs (e. g. any kind of emergency aid payments or interim credit)

In the case of costs of necessary maintenance, service or storage of assets (FAQ No. 23e), the deadline is deemed to have been met if the asset was in the applicant’s possession on Jan. 1, 2020. Subsequent acquisitions or contractual adjustments that lead to an increase in fixed costs in the SHOCKFREEZING period or to a shift of costs into the funding period remain irrelevant in this respect.

Exception: Expenses for hygiene measures can also be taken into account if they are not justified before January 1, 2020 (e. g. air filtration systems).

Costs may be charged with input tax in all cases in which the applicant is not entitled to deduct input tax and the input tax is therefore cost-effective. 

  • What are the fixed costs specifically?
    • Rents and leases,
      • Rents and leases for buildings, land and premises directly related to the company’s business activities, including incidental rental costs, which are based on a fixed and longer-term contract,
      • Costs for a home office if they have already been/will be tax deductible in 2019 in the corresponding form (full tax deductible costs, proportionally for the months of funding).
    • Not included:
      • Other costs for private premises
      • Variable rent and lease expenses
  • Other rental costs,
    • rent of vehicles and machinery used for business purposes in accordance with their proportion of use determined under tax regulations.
    • Not included:
      • Other costs for private premises
  • Interest expenses on business loans and borrowings,
    • Deferral interest in the event of suspension,
    • Payments for the provision of capital to lenders of the company with whom a loan agreement has been concluded (e.g. for bank loans),
    • Current account interest.
    • Not included:
      • Repayment rates
      • Negative interest and custody fees
  • Expenditures for necessary maintenance, service or storage of fixed and leased assets, including computer equipment,
    • Payments for maintenance, service or storage of fixed and leased assets, including computer equipment, provided that they are recognized as expenses (= maintenance expenses), have been invoiced ((partial) invoice has been received) and are not reimbursed (e.g. by insurance payments).
    • Not included:
      • Expenditure for maintenance, service or storage of fixed and leased assets, including computer equipment, which is not recognized as an expense (e.g. creation of new assets),
      • Expenditure for renovation and conversion work (except for COVID-19-related hygiene measures, cf. No. 7).
  • Expenses for electricity, water, heating
    • including costs for cooling and gas.
  • Cleaning and hygienic measures,
    • In order to reflect the special pandemic situation, hygiene measures including investment measures that are not substantiated before March 1, 2020, are also taken into account here (e. g. the acquisition of mobile air filtration systems and the retrofitting of already existing stationary air filtration systems, measures for the temporary relocation of business operations to outdoor areas).
  • Property taxes,
  • Operational license fees,
    • i. e. for IT programs,
    • Payments for licenses for the use of industrial property rights, patents, etc.   
  • Insurances,
  • Subscriptions,
  • Franchise costs,
  • Other fixed business expenses, 
    • Telecommunication costs (telephone and internet, server, broadcasting fee, etc.),
    • Fees for garbage disposal, street cleaning, etc.,
    • Vehicle tax for commercially used cars and other taxes regularly incurred in fixed amounts,
    • Operational ongoing costs for external service providers, e. g. costs for financial and payroll accounting, preparation of annual financial statements, cleaning, IT service providers, janitorial services,
    • Chamber of Commerce and Industry dues and other membership fees,
    • Account management fees,
    • Payments to the artists’ social insurance for commissioned artists,
    • Animal feed for operationally necessary animals (e.g. in the case of circuses).
  • Costs of auditing third parties [tax advisors, auditors or certified public accountants], incurred in connection with the application for liquidity protection,
    • Costs in connection with the submission of the application (including costs for the plausibility check of the information as well as the preparation of the application) and final settlement (estimate),
    • Costs for consulting services in connection with liquidity protection (estimate),
    • Costs for other services related to COVID-19 assistance, if incurred in connection with the application for COVID-19 interim credit (e.g. accrual issues regarding the application for interim credit) (estimate).
  • Personnel expenses,
    • Personnel costs not covered by short-time work or similar programs of individual states/countries,
    • Eligible participants must incur personnel costs for this purpose (not all employees may be in full short-time work or similar programs of individual states/countries)
      • Management salaries of the shareholders that are subject to social security contributions (maximum monthly amount is € 5,000 gross/person),
      • Management salaries of shareholders who are classified as self-employed for social security purposes, who properly provided invoices for at least ten months in 2019, which were properly accounted for and paid (maximum monthly amount is € 5,000 gross/person).
    • Not included:
      • Personnel costs covered by short-time allowance or similar programs of individual states/countries,
      • Cost of living or a (fictitious/calculated) entrepreneur’s salary. 
  • Cost for apprentices,
    • Wage costs including social security contributions
    • Costs directly related to apprenticeship, such as vocational school costs
    • Persons doing a voluntary social year, voluntary ecological year or federal volunteer service (only own contribution)
    • Costs for dual students (prerequisite: training contract for entire duration with training allowance).
    • Not included:
      • Other costs that are only indirectly related to employment such as equipment costs,
      • Costs for interns.
  • How are operating fixed costs to be allocated in terms of time?

Operating fixed costs for which the due date results from an obligation that existed prior to Jan. 1, 2020 and which are due for payment in the SHOCKFREEZING period may be fully accounted for (even in the case of deferral). Operating fixed costs that are not due for payment in the SHOCKFREEZING period may also not be recognized on a proportional basis.

The anticipated or already incurred costs of the tax advisor, auditor or certified accountant for the submission and final settlement for liquidity protection are to be distributed evenly over all months for which liquidity protection is requested.

  • What is the procedure for deferrals?

Payments that were deferred due to COVID-19 and are now due during the REVITALISATION period may be applied if they have not already been reimbursed as part of other subsidies.

  • Can costs for low value fixed assets be considered?

No, as these are regularly one-time investments and precisely not fixed costs and cannot be allocated to any of the eligible cost items.

  • To what extent can costs for the preparation or audit of annual financial statements be considered?

Costs for the preparation and audit of annual financial statements can be taken into account in the amount in which they were due in the SHOCKFREEZING period.

  • How are payments made by a partnership to its shareholders treated (for tax purposes: extraordinary operating expenses)?

Payments from a partnership to individual shareholders (natural persons) are not co-financed.

C. Application for liquidity protection

  • How high must the decline in revenue be for a company to apply for liquidity protection?

Eligible applicants must have experienced a decrease in revenue of at least 10% in 2020 compared to the average of annual revenue in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Example of meeting the requirements for liquidity protection:

  • What exactly is the definition of revenue?   

The definition of revenue includes: 

  • revenue from supplies and services
  • advance payments received,
  • non-recurring revenues (e. g. revenues from the sale of assets),
  • revenues from rents and leases
  • Do donations also count as revenues?

No.

  • Are bad debts taken into account?

If there are reliable indications that a posted revenue or receivable cannot be realized, it is deducted from the revenue calculation. Such indications include ongoing legal dunning proceedings, an insolvency petition filed by the debtor, or circumstances of comparable scope.

  • What is the maximum possible level of liquidity protection? 

Liquidity protection is provided for a maximum of 2020 (retroactively) and 2021, as well as the first half of 2022 (January to June inclusive).

The liquidity protection will reimburse a portion equal to 

  1. up to 100% of fixed costs in the event of a drop in sales > 50%.
  2. up to 75% of fixed costs in the event of a drop in sales ≥ 25% and ≤ 50%.
  3. up to 50% of fixed costs in the event of a drop in sales ≥ 10% and < 25%

in 2020 compared to the average of annual sales in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

  • What is the liquidity protection paid for and what may it be used for?

The liquidity protection may only be used to cover the fixed costs described and listed in “B. SHOCKFREEZING-qualified costs”.

  • Where can the application for liquidity protection be submitted?

The application can be submitted electronically from March 15, 2021 via the portal https://www.plan2021.eu.

  • Who submits the application for liquidity protection?

Only a tax advisor (including tax agents), auditor or certified public accountant, who must first register in the application portal, can submit the application on behalf of a client.

  • Does a tax advisor, auditor or certified public accountant (auditing third party) have to be involved in the submission?

Yes, the application can only be submitted by a tax advisor, auditor or certified public accountant commissioned by the applicant, who must declare his/her agreement that the relevant contractual partner may verify his/her entry in the professional register of the relevant chamber of tax advisors or bar association or the chamber of auditors.   

The application must be submitted by the tax consultant on behalf of the applicant. It is not possible to submit an application without a verifying third party.

  • Can only the liquidity protection be applied for without a commitment to carry out digitalization and sustainability measures as well as training and further education of the staff?

No.

  • Is there a legal claim to liquidity protection?

No. Liquidity protection is part of PLAN2021.eu and a part of the applied financing instrument, which implies clear requirements. If the risk management of the individual investors or GREEN BONS issuers determines that these are not met, no offer will be made.

  • Is it necessary to have a trading license?

Yes, except for members of the liberal professions. These are eligible to apply, provided that their activity is carried out as a main occupation.   

  • Are companies eligible to apply even though they have not applied for other COVID-19 aid?

Yes.

  • Must other aid measures have already been used or exhausted before applying for liquidity protection?

No.

  • Must liquid operating funds or private reserves be used up before the application is submitted?

No.

  • When will liquidity protection have to be repaid?

The liquidity protection must be repaid in accordance with the repayment schedule contractually agreed upon with the investors, optionally 10, 15 or 20 years, starting from Jan. 1, 2023.

  • Is registration required prior to submitting an application?

Yes.

  • On the basis of which documents does the tax advisor have to make his assessment?

The tax advisor shall particularly consider the following documents in the application process: 

  1. preliminary VAT returns and current accounting for the year 2020
  2. annual financial statements for 2017, 2018 and 2019
  3. income or corporate income tax returns 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Until when can applications be submitted?

All participants registered by March 14, 2021 have 4 weeks to submit their application.

  • From when can applications be submitted?

Applications for liquidity protection can be submitted from March 15, 2021.

  1. What is the application process?

The process involves 4 steps:

  1. step: Data entry – third party auditor NOT required

Input of data for the years 2017, 2018, 2019 as well as 2020 via the website: www.plan2021.eu

The key data on the possible scope of liquidity protection, possible investment in digitalization and sustainability are displayed directly.

  1. step: Application – third party auditor NOT required

Accept displayed key data, provide further required information [on applied applications, on the company, on own person and position in company] and send! Wait for answer of evaluation and possible invitation to submit application!

  1. step: Submission – third examiner NECESSARY and required

With the invitation to submit the request, the necessary approval data for the third examiner, who can submit the request, will be provided.

After successful authentication, data can be entered.

  1. step: Contract conclusion

After the data entered by a third party has been positively evaluated, a binding offer is made.

The offer consists of three parts.

Part I.             Already contains all contract details such as term, interest, repayment,

unscheduled repayment options.

Part II.            Contains the offer for digitalization, i. e. digital transformation services, including training measures for employees.

Part III.           Contains the offer for sustainability, i. e services for measures in the area of increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions, including training measures.

If the three offered proposals are accepted and confirmed with a signature, the contract is considered to be concluded.