Region overview

After China, Europe became one of the clear epicentres of the COVID-19 outbreak. The European Commission has released a roadmap for a coordinated lifting of COVID-19 containment measures throughout the region, setting out conditions that should be met before lockdowns begin to ease and basic principles to guide the EU member states.

Some countries within the region, such as Denmark and Austria, have already begun to relax their nationwide restrictions and move towards a 'new normal'.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Export support
Last updated: 25 May 2020
COVID-19 Market Realities: UK Agri Sector, 18 May

UK agriculture consultant Martin Collison shares insights with NZTE BDM Alex Gowen on the UK's agricultural environment and challenges for farmers.

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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.

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Export support
Last updated: 18 May 2020
COVID-19 Market Realities: UK Food & Beverage, 12 May

Grocery consultant Hamish Renton of HRA Global shares insights on the UK food retail environment with Maria Hellyer, NZTE BDM. Recorded 12 May 2020.

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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'. The Commission expects EU GDP to decline by 7.5% in 2020 with a gradual recovery in 2021.

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).

Supply chain, logistics and freight


Some member states continue to operate national border controls, within Schengen as well as external borders.

However, the European Commission principle that all EU internal borders should stay open to freight and that the supply chains for essential products must be guaranteed.

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.

  • Guidelines urge EU members to lift any export bans and restrictions on medicines and avoid stockpiling to ensure all Europeans have access to essential medicines.

Freight and logistics

After an initial problem with border delays (in mid-March there were unprecedented queues of 80 kilometres and wait times reaching up to 20 hours), the European Commission is seeing border queues return to reasonable lengths.

According to new 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

COVID-19 has had the largest impact on air freight with approx. 75% of the global airfreight market is now freighter capacity (instead of passenger flights). The resulting demand for air freight due to reduced passenger flights has subsequently increased costs, including cargo.

European hubs are still fully operational, however 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.

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.

Advice to exporters

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


The European Commission has recommended that EU members begin lifting travel restrictions from 1 July.

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

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 being restricted to their homes, the e-commerce sector is crucial during the COVID-19 outbreak to provide essential products.

E-Commerce Europe released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce in Europe (27 March 2020).

  • 60% of responders from online shops are experiencing issues in their supply chain.

  • There are significant pressures on parcel delivery operators in their respective countries

  • Cross border delivery – 86% of respondents state that parcel delivery operators are not restricting or are being restricted to deliver abroad. Any problems raised is largely due to the lack of flight connections.

64% of respondents indicated that when brick-and-mortar shops are not allowed to open in their country they are offering alternative options to deliver products to their consumers.


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 Commission is currently working on how countries can reopen in time for the peak summer season. Measures being considered include 'travel bubbles' or 'green lanes', with member states making arrangements to enable tourism to resume more quickly. The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to one another, creating a coronavirus 'travel bubble'.

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.