Region overview

After China, Europe became one of the clear epicentres of the COVID-19 outbreak, resulting in widespread lockdowns and restrictions across the region. On 8 April the European Commission released a roadmap for a coordinated lifting of containment measures, setting out reopening conditions and basic principles to guide EU member states.

Most key markets in Europe for New Zealand exports have already begun to relax their nationwide restrictions and move towards a 'new normal', opening up for business and tourism. More regionalised 'lockdowns' are being implemented where needed.

From 30 June, New Zealanders are exempt from travel restrictions into EU countries, although some exceptions apply.

Learn more about the situation in 12 key European countries via the market pages below.

For more information on doing business in the UK and Europe, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance. 

Resources for Europe

View more resources
Export support
Last updated: 19 Jun 2020
COVID-19 Market Realities: Ireland Dairy / Agribusiness, 18 June

NZTE's Alex Gowen speaks with Irish Farmers Journal Dairy Editor Aidan Brennan about developments in Ireland's dairy sector. Published 18 June 2020.

Watch now
Export support
Last updated: 11 Jun 2020
COVID-19 Market Realities: UK Food Service, 29 May

NZTE Business Development Manager Maria Hellyer talks to Managing Director of Delaware North UK, Doug Tetley, for his insights on UK food service.

Watch now
Export support
Last updated: 1 Jun 2020
Audio insights: an introduction to scenario planning - COVID-19 Europe

NZTE Beachheads Advisor, Mark Wade, talks to NZTE's Tom Stevens about scenario planning and how exporters can use it to reimagine the future.

Watch now
Export supportBusiness support
Last updated: 20 May 2020
Podcast: steering a company through crisis - COVID-19 Europe

Dutch entrepreneur and NZTE Beachheads advisor Erik Dijkstra talks about leading through crisis and shares top tips for exporters navigating COVID-19.

Watch now

Across Europe

Expand these headings for region-level insights across Europe. For updates on specific countries, scroll down to our market pages.

Economy and trade

According to the European Commission, the EU has now entered the 'deepest economic recession in its history'. All sectors of the economy have been affected, including the retail and wholesale (11% of EU GDP), manufacturing (14% of EU GDP) and the construction sector (9% of GDP).

The Commission expects EU GDP to decline by 7.5% in 2020 with a gradual recovery in 2021, although the strength of the rebound will differ for each country.

Europe's significant government stimulus packages, along with its existing welfare systems, have led economists to predict that Europe may 'bounce back' earlier than other international regions. Stimulus packages implemented by member states, such as interest-free business loans and job retention schemes, have encouraged companies not to lay off employees, with governments making up much of the lost income.

Supply chain, logistics and freight


The European Union has opened its borders to certain countries, including New Zealand, but some member states continue to operate national border controls.

You can see the status of various European borders on the European Commission webpage here.

Regulations and customs procedures

In order to mitigate trade disruption some measures have been taken by the European Commission, including:

  • The temporary waiving of customs duties and VAT on the import of medical devices and equipment from non-EU countries.

  • The Health and Food Safety Directorate is allowing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certificates provided electronically or via scanned copies.

Freight and logistics

According to data released mid-May, freight volumes in Europe are starting to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an increase in shipment levels between the middle and end of April for machinery and equipment, construction and building materials, and non-food retail, according to data from supply chain platform Shippeo.

Green lanes have been implemented in order to secure the continuous flow of goods within the single market. Procedures have been minimised and streamlined to what is strictly necessary. Under green lane border crossings any checks and health screening should not take more than 15 mins.

Air freight

Air cargo rates have slowly begun to decrease as European demand for certain goods has lessened and Europe has begun to emerge from lockdown.

European hubs are still fully operational, although there is a slight decrease in export volumes in the market (whereas import volumes remain stable).

Ocean freight

The closing of private and public sectors over Europe has begun to affect port productivity. However there is currently no impact on port operations. Some European sea ports are experiencing reduced efficiency with an expected increase in clearance times, but the three largest European ports (Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg) are operating as usual.

The operational capacity of sea freight is slightly reduced. The Port of Hamburg has reported reduced container handling and pressures on its storage space.

Land transport

Land based supply chains accounts for 75% of EU freight transport. Europe land transport is fully operational and available for business, although some borders are seeing delays.

While a number of European countries imposed nationwide travel restrictions, this is mostly for private travel and freight should be able to continue to cross borders.

See live truck border crossing times in Europe here.


European ports are largely functioning as usual. However there have been reported increased clearance times for goods due to increased health and hygiene measures, extra border inspection measures etc.

Container turnaround times at some ports may slow down as containers are becoming storage facilities due to the impact of lockdowns on warehouses and distribution centres throughout the region.

Supply Chains

The largest impact on European supply chains has come from the changes in consumer demand. There has been a significant shift in demand from high value/food service products (often used in restaurants) towards more basic, retail products for home consumption.

Alongside changes in demand, the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce has impacted goods trade within the EU. Carriers may reduce capacity because of a lack of staff.

Warehousing is approaching capacity, which will become increasingly important for the end of the Brexit transition period also.

Advice to exporters

Agility provides global shipping updates and the status of ports (sea and air) across Europe.


As of 30 June, New Zealanders are exempt from travel restrictions into EU countries, although some exceptions apply.

The European Commission's Re-Open Europe tool provides up-to-date information on the travel guidance for each EU market for international travellers.

You can also visit the EU's official travel advice page with details for each EU country.

All travellers returning to New Zealand are subject to a mandatory 14-day stay at a Government-managed facility. Managed isolation charges for those returning to New Zealand have come into force from Tuesday 11 August. Find out more here.

In addition, Air New Zealand continues to operate a reduced network for international operations through to 24 October 2020. Read more here.

Sector insights


The EU's agriculture sector is proving resilient and member states remain committed to keeping their agricultural supply chains in place.

However, availability of labour is an issue within the sector as the various border controls affect the normal movement of workers, particularly seasonal labour in the horticulture sector.

In response to this, some countries are encouraging their recently unemployed residents to work in the agricultural sector in their own countries (including France and Germany).

The sectors most affected by this are those that produce high value products for the restaurant industry. These products are not covered by normal CAP intervention mechanisms and are outside temporary State Aid assistance so there are limited means of support.

European dairy industry bodies, the European Dairy Association (EDA) and the European dairy trader's association (Eucolait), report dairy supplies and production are continuing relatively normally.

The European Commission announced a set of measures aimed at supporting the agri-food sector in response to the crisis. Measures include:

  • Member states are able to make use of unspent funds under the Common Agricultural Policy

  • Farmers and other rural development beneficiaries will be able to benefit from loans and guarantees of up to €200,000 with more favourable conditions.

Visit "Sector Insights" on our United Kingdom market page for further information about how the agriculture sector is being affected there.


With European citizens increasingly restricted to their homes, the e-commerce sector has proved crucial for providing essential products during the COVID-19 outbreak.

E-Commerce Europe released an updated report (PDF) on the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce in Europe on 14 May 2020. Some key insights from the report:

  • While there has been strong demand in e-commerce since March, the results vary by sector. The fashion industry saw a substantial decrease in sales, and demand for the travel and events industry has dropped to an all-time low.

  • 78% of companies surveyed said they were continuing to experience difficulties in their supply chain. However, the pressure on postal and parcel delivery operators has decreased in Europe since March.

  • 67% of respondents in May indicated that physical shops had reopened, up from only 27% open in March, lifting some of the pressure from the e-commerce sector.

As seen in other world markets, COVID-19 has provided increased digital e-commerce and technology opportunities in Europe for New Zealand exporters. Virtual experience technology and shop-streaming will have a substantial role as people source non-contact commerce, leisure and retail in the future. Investment is already beginning to move to these platforms.


The impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism sector are already evident in European tourism hotspots around the Mediterranean, and there are concerns that this will continue for a prolonged period.

Tourism represents around 10% of GDP in the EU, with a number of countries relying on tourism as a key sector of their economy – in Italy and Spain it accounts for 13% and 14.3% of GDP respectively.

The EU is beginning to open up travel between member states, but quarantine requirements and regional lockdowns are being implemented as required.

Market overviews


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Belgium.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Denmark.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in France.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Germany.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Ireland.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Italy.

The Netherlands

Updates on COVID-19 impacts in The Netherland.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Russia.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Spain.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Sweden.


Updates on COVID-19 impacts in Turkey.

United Kingdom

Updates on COVID-19 impacts in the United Kingdom.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.