The volume of credit in Belgium has risen over the past few years. Despite the increased attention given to alternative finance methods, banks remain the main suppliers of credit in Belgium. The National Bank of Belgium (NBB) reported that the outstanding amount of used credit granted to non-financial institutions was, in March 2020, more than €154 billion.2 The NBB also noted that credits granted to non-financial institutions have been increasing since 2018 even though they have been reducing their capital (and so becoming less solvent).3 This trend of a strong flow of bank loans to non-financial corporations continued in 2019, although its growth started to stabilise.4 A new high increase in the amount of credit granted was reported in March 2020 and it is likely that more increases are to be expected in the months thereafter, which can obviously be explained by the ongoing covid-19 crisis.
Overall, financing conditions have remained highly accommodating over the past years, although lending criteria to companies were tightened due to increased risk perception by the banks.5 According to a European Central Bank (ECB) survey published in May 2020, Belgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can easily find access to credit. However, SMEs throughout the entire euro area have growing concerns about financial conditions and macroeconomic factors affecting their future access to external finance. In particular, the availability of credit lines and bank overdrafts is expected to decrease. During the covid-19 pandemic, SMEs have often encountered liquidity problems. Credit lines and bank overdrafts are the typical type of short-term instruments that SMEs can use to face such challenges.6
At the beginning of 2019, Belgian company law was reformed with the introduction of the new Belgian code on companies and associations (the BCCA) of 23 March 2019. The BCCA entered into force on 1 May 2019 and has gradually been applying as from that date. The reform is generally having a positive impact on Belgian transactional financing practice.
In Belgium, banks often use either their own templates to document loans or, depending upon the loan size and deal structure, Loan Market Association (LMA)-style documents may be entered into.
II LEGAL AND REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS
Banks are seeking to protect their profits against the costs of the implementation of ever-changing regulatory requirements. For this reason, Belgian loan documentation (both the banks' own templates and the LMA-style documentation) usually contain a clause on increased costs that often has the same effect as the increased-costs clause in the LMA templates. Such an increased-costs clause passes the costs resulting from changes in the law or regulation, including the implementation or application or compliance with Basel III or Capital Requirements Directive IV and V, to the borrowers.
ii Company law reform
Early in 2019, Belgian company law was substantially reformed with the BCCA's entry into force. With the BCCA, the Belgian legislator has sought to make company law less complex and more flexible. A few of the new developments affecting Belgian finance practice are discussed below.
Reduction in the number of company forms
The number of different company forms has been significantly reduced. Under the BCCA, companies can opt for the following four forms:
- the private limited liability company (BV/SRL) (previous BVBA/SCRL);
- the public limited liability company (NV/SA);
- the cooperative limited liability company (CV/SC); and
- the partnership.
The new private limited liability company has been remodelled as a flexible company. The structuring, governance and operation of this company form have become very flexible, including the lifting of any minimum capital requirements.
The absence of capital in the private limited liability company has been compensated by other creditor protection mechanisms. The founders are responsible for ensuring that the company has sufficient initial capital to carry out the intended activity and must prepare a comprehensive financial plan. In addition, the BCCA includes new restrictions on distributions by private limited liability companies, based on a liquidity-based distribution test.
More flexible internal approval procedures
The board of directors of public limited liability companies could already use written decision-making under the old company law, but this was often difficult in practice because it required (1) an explicit authorisation in the articles of association, and (2) urgency. For private limited liability companies, there was previously no explicit legal basis for written decision-making.
The BCCA enables written decision-making in both company forms and lifts the urgency requirement. This is a welcome change in financing transactions, as written decision-making is becoming increasingly common.
Stricter rules on conflicts of interest
The BCCA provides for new, stricter rules on potential conflicts of interest. In a limited liability company, a director with a conflict of interest cannot participate in the board meeting. Moreover, the decision or the transaction will be submitted to the shareholders' meeting if the sole director or all the directors have a conflict of interest. This can also be relevant for decision-making and approvals of finance documents.
Share transfer limitations in private limited liability companies
Transfer limitations on shares of the limited liability company are no longer mandatory but have become supplementary law. The standard rule that shares in a Belgian private limited liability company are not freely transferable has been maintained, but companies are now able to deviate from this rule in their articles of association. If the articles of association do not allow their free transfer, then an amendment to the articles of association is still required if the shares are pledged.
Amended change-of-control provisions
The Belgian law provisions that subject certain Belgian companies to restrictions and formalities when entering into agreements with change-of-control clauses are amended under the BCCA. Before the BCCA's entry into force, the scope of these legal provisions (previous Article 566 of the Belgian Company Code) was not limited to listed companies, but extended to all Belgian public limited liability companies. Over the years, there was much discussion among legal scholars and practitioners about the legislator's original intention and the scope the legislator intended to give to the application of these provisions.
Under the BCCA, these provisions were amended (new Article 7:151) to return to the legislator's original intention. First, the scope is now explicitly limited to listed companies. Second, only transactions or agreements that grant rights or create debts or obligations that have a 'significant' impact on the company's assets are eligible. In other words, it must concern rights, debts or obligations that, individually or collectively, are of such a nature that they can reasonably be considered as constructions that provide protection against unwanted takeover attempts.
Change of company form
The change from one form of company to another is often prohibited in credit and pledge agreements. Under the BCCA, some company forms will automatically be converted into another company form by operation of law, such as the private limited liability company (e.g., a BVBA into a BV). This could have an impact on certain representations, warranties or undertakings made by borrowers under finance documents. Considering the fact that the conversion will take place by operation of law, and, that it will generally have no negative impact on the rights of creditors, such clauses should be interpreted in a pragmatic way. Therefore, an automatic conversion should not constitute a breach under finance documentation.
From real to statutory seat
With the BCCA's introduction, Belgium has switched to the statutory seat regime, for both Belgian and foreign companies. This means that a company is governed by the company law of the seat it chooses in its articles of association, regardless of where it has its activities. For corporate income tax purposes, however, the place of effective management will remain decisive in determining whether a company qualifies as a Belgian tax resident.
Entry into force and application
The BCCA entered into force on 1 May 2019 and has becomes applicable in a gradual manner:
- it has applied in full to new companies and associations since 1 May 2019;
- existing companies have been able to opt in to the new regime since 1May 2019;
- existing companies have been subject to the new Code since 1 January 2020. Since that date, mandatory provisions apply. For non-mandatory provisions, existing companies may wait until the next amendment of their articles of associations to fully adapt to the BCCA. In any case, they must fully comply with the BCCA by 1 January 2024;
- the conversion of the private limited liability company and the cooperative company into a company without capital took place by operation of law on 1 January 2020;
- companies with a company form that has been abolished under the BCCA and that have failed to take the necessary steps by 1 January 2024 will, on that date, be converted by operation of law into a company form closest to their original form; and
- the application of the statutory seat regime took effect on 1 May 2019.
iii Pledge Law
Over the past years, the security rights regime regarding movable assets was modernised in Belgium. On 1 January 2018, the Belgian Law of 11 July 2013 on security interests over movable assets finally entered into force (the Pledge Law). Since then, there are two methods to perfect a pledge over movable assets and make such a pledge effective against third parties: either the pledge is registered in the pledge register, or the pledgor transfers possession over the pledged assets to the pledgee or a third-party pledge holder. Moreover, the pledge over the business (a kind of floating charge) can no longer be granted only to entities with a European Economic Area (EEA) banking licence, and registration costs of the pledge have fallen significantly.
III TAX CONSIDERATIONS
i Withholding tax
As a general rule, Belgian tax law provides a withholding tax on interest payments, but certain exemptions apply. For example, domestic law provides for an exemption from withholding tax on interest payments made by qualifying Belgian companies in favour of credit institutions (banks) located in the EEA or in a state that has concluded a double tax treaty with Belgium.
ii Deductibility of interest for borrowers
Interest paid upon a borrower's loans is tax-deductible provided that certain conditions are met. Generally, these conditions include the following: the lender must be a third party; the borrowed money must be used by the borrower to earn income from its business; and the interest may not exceed market rates (taking into account the borrower's specific situation).
iii Stamp and documentary taxes
Certain bank documents executed in Belgium, including loan or credit facilities agreements entered into by banking institutions or agreements creating a security interest in favour of banking institutions, are subject to a €0.15 stamp duty.
Mortgage agreements and mortgage mandates are subject to various taxes and fees. Pledge agreements over movable assets that are registered with the pledge register are subject to certain registration rights (see Section IV).
iv The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the Common Reporting Standard
Belgium has certain obligations regarding the exchange of information for tax purposes with other countries under the following international acts:
- a Model 1 intergovernmental agreement regarding the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act signed by Belgium and the United States on 23 April 2014;
- the Common Reporting Standard Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Common Reporting Standard); and
- Council Directive 2014/107/EU of 9 December 2014 amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation.
The Belgian Law of 16 December 2015 regulating the communication of information regarding financial accounts, by the Belgian financial institutions and the Belgian Ministry of Finance, related to the automatic exchange of information at the international level and for tax purposes, implemented the international acts above and has provided a framework for such an automatic exchange of information. Belgian financial institutions, such as banks, falling under the scope of this law will need to report and retain certain information on the reportable accounts held by them to the appropriate Belgian authority, while protecting their clients' privacy.
IV CREDIT SUPPORT AND SUBORDINATION
Types of security interests
A security interest can be created over movable assets (tangible and intangible) and immovable assets (real estate) located in Belgium.
A consensual security right over land, buildings or other immovable property located in Belgium is created by entering into a mortgage deed. Such a mortgage deed must be: (1) executed in Dutch, French or German before a notary; (2) registered with the tax authorities; and (3) recorded in the appropriate mortgage registers of each judicial district in which the mortgaged real estate is located (as there is no central mortgage register).
Because the costs associated with a mortgage are very high and calculated on the basis of the amount secured by the mortgage, security providers will often request limiting the amount secured by the mortgage and covering a significantly higher amount by a mortgage mandate (which is not a security interest, but only a power of attorney to create additional mortgages).
Tangible movable assets
Under the Pledge Law, there are two methods to perfect a pledge over specific tangible or intangible movable assets and make it effective against third parties: either the pledge is registered in the Pledge Register or the pledgor transfers possession over the pledged assets to the pledgee or a third party pledge holder.
A Belgian law pledge over movable assets can be registered in the pledge register for a renewable term of 10 years.
The pledgor retains possession over the assets constituting the business and may sell the assets in the ordinary course of business so that he can keep on running its business in a normal fashion. The pledge can cover all the assets that constitute the business of the pledgor, including, the total value of the inventory, the clientele, goodwill, commercial name and signs, commercial organisation, trademarks, patents, know-how, rights under leases, furniture, commercial records, equipment and vehicles – land and buildings are excluded.
Following the Pledge Law's entry into force, the previous law on business pledges was abolished. A business pledge that was validly created and perfected before 1 January 2018 remains valid and enforceable, but will have lost its rank unless it was registered by 30 December 2018. Existing business pledge mandates dating from before the entry into force of the Pledge Law still allow establishing pledges that will be subject to the new rules introduced by the Pledge Law.
Intangible movable assets
Shares and other financial instruments
A pledge over registered shares must be registered in the company's share register, and the company must be notified of the pledge or acknowledge it.
A pledge over book-entry securities (e.g., shares or other financial instruments held through the Euroclear system) is perfected by transferring possession of the shares; they must be booked into a specific pledged account held by the pledgee or a person representing the pledgee.
When shares with multiple voting rights are issued by non-listed companies under the BCCA, these additional voting rights are not lost in case of transfer of the shares or enforcement of the pledge.
Double voting rights granted by listed companies, however, belong to the person and do not stick to the shares. Therefore, the additional voting rights will generally be lost in case of transfer of the shares by enforcement of the pledge.
Receivables and bank accounts
A pledge over receivables or bank accounts is only enforceable against the debtor of the pledged receivables or against the account bank once the debtor or the account bank has been notified of or has acknowledged the pledge.
Perfection of a pledge over intellectual property (IP) rights will depend on the types of rights to be pledged; certain pledges must be notified to, or registered with, the relevant IP authorities or registration offices to become effective against third parties.
Under Belgian law, certain types of security interests may only be validly created in favour of the creditors of the secured claims and cannot be held by a person acting on behalf of a fluctuating body of creditors. As a result, a Belgian security interest is often created in favour of a security agent acting in its capacity as an independent creditor of a parallel debt. A parallel debt structure is not required regarding a pledge (1) created over financial instruments, such as shares or bank accounts or (2) over other movable assets (tangible or intangible), as such a pledge may be created in favour of a security agent acting as a representative for a fluctuating body of lenders.
ii Guarantees and other forms of credit support
There are several types of guarantees available, and parties can modify a guarantee according to their needs. For example, a guarantee can be an independent guarantee or an accessory suretyship. A guarantee can also be callable on first demand. A bank guarantee will often be callable on first demand and independent from the underlying debt documents. A guarantee may also be unlimited or provided for a maximum amount. Guarantees, especially upstream or side-stream guarantees, will often be limited to lower the risk that the granting of the guarantee would not be within the corporate benefit of the Belgian guarantor (see Section V).
Netting and set-offs by the borrower
Given the general rule under Belgian law that creditors should be treated equally upon a debtor's insolvency, a person can no longer set off its debt against the receivable of another person following the latter's insolvency. There are certain exceptions to this rule: statutory netting may occur if certain conditions are met (e.g., the receivables must be closely connected) and contractual netting will, as a rule, also survive the insolvency of one of the parties (unless the netting agreement was entered into during a 'hardening' period).
The LMA clause that all payments that an obligor makes must be made without set-off or counterclaim is generally deemed to be valid under Belgian law.
Negative pledge undertakings
Belgian bank lending documentation will most likely include negative pledge undertakings. Such an undertaking, however, will probably not (this is subject to debate) affect the security interest granted by an obligor breaching such a negative pledge undertaking provided that the beneficiary of the security interest was acting in good faith.
Mortgage mandates and business pledge mandates
Mortgage and business pledge mandates are used to limit, or at least postpone, the costs related to a mortgage or business pledge. Such mandates are irrevocable powers of attorney to establish additional mortgages or business pledges, but neither create a security interest effective against third parties, nor do they give any right of priority to the banks. A mandate cannot be used to create a mortgage or a business pledge following the security provider's bankruptcy or during a hardening period preceding the bankruptcy.
Before the Pledge Law's entry into force, a business pledge was quite expensive to register (approximately 0.7 per cent of the secured amount). The parties often entered into a business pledge mandate to avoid or at least postpone the costs related to a business pledge. Because the costs of creating and perfecting a pledge over movable assets have now become much cheaper, some lenders may prefer to exercise this mandate or immediately create and register a business pledge.
iii Priorities and subordination
The ranking of creditors is a complex matter under Belgian law. In general, the following principles apply:
- creditors rank equally, unless a creditor benefits from a lien or a security interest as provided for by law;
- certain creditors, such as the creditors for certain judicial costs and the creditor for costs made to maintain or preserve assets, benefit from a super-priority lien and will always rank ahead of other creditors;
- creditors benefiting from a specific lien (e.g., a pledge or a mortgage) will rank ahead of the creditors benefitting from a general lien (e.g., the tax and social security authorities that benefit from a statutory lien); and
- in the case of competing security interests, the security interest that has been made effective against third parties first will often have priority.
Subordination can be achieved contractually between creditors, through an intercreditor agreement or a subordination agreement. These agreements are often entered into between the senior creditors, the junior creditors and the debtors. The subordination of claims secured by certain security interests may require that certain formalities are complied with regarding the security interests.
V LEGAL RESERVATIONS AND OPINIONS PRACTICE
i Legal reservations
Belgian opinions are normally in line with foreign practice.
Belgian opinions contain various assumptions regarding matters of fact and foreign law. These assumptions include matters of fact relating to the conclusion of an agreement (such as no violation of public order or vitiated consent); the capacity of the Belgian companies entering into the transaction documents (e.g., regarding corporate benefit); the assets secured by a Belgian security interest (e.g., regarding ownership); financial assistance; and the genuineness and accuracy of the examined documents.
A Belgian legal opinion will typically include several qualifications, which may cover the following subjects:
- corporate benefit and corporate purpose;
- change of control clauses;
- the security agent acting as trustee;
- parallel debt;
- financial assistance;
- perfection of security interests;
- ranking of security interests and other liens;
- choices of law and forum;
- recognition of foreign judgments;
- rules of procedure; and
A commercial company subject to Belgian law must enter into a transaction with the intent of pursuing profit. This is a rule of public order. If a company enters into a transaction without the intent of pursuing profit, then the company's entry into the transaction will be invalid. Whether a company intends to pursue profit is a factual matter.
In addition, the directors of a company subject to Belgian law have a duty to act in the company's corporate benefit. If a Belgian company enters into a transaction that does not fall within the company's corporate benefit, then the validity of the transaction could be challenged. The rules existing under Belgian law regarding a company's corporate benefit do not contain well-defined guidelines, and the proper application of any such rules depends on the business issues affecting the company, which can only (and must) be properly assessed by its board of directors. Whether a transaction is to a company's corporate benefit is a factual matter.
Although there is very little case law on the matter, it is generally accepted among legal scholars and practitioners that the granting of a guarantee or a security interest by a Belgian company to secure the obligations of another entity may be within the guarantor or security provider's corporate benefit if the following conditions are met:
- the guarantor or security provider itself derives a benefit from the transaction (a group benefit may be taken into account, but a mere group benefit is generally not considered sufficient); and
- the risks incurred by the guarantor or security provider (e.g., the value of the encumbered assets and the amount guaranteed by the company) are proportionate to the benefit it derives from the transaction and its financial capacity.
The granting of downstream guarantees or security interests will generally (but not always) present fewer problems from a corporate benefit perspective. It would be more challenging, however, to satisfy the corporate benefit test when granting upstream or side-stream guarantees or security interests. If a Belgian subsidiary is required to guarantee or secure the indebtedness of the other group companies in the context of a group financing, the amounts guaranteed or secured by the Belgian subsidiary will often be limited to try to ensure that the security interests or the guarantee are proportionate to the Belgian subsidiary's own benefit derived from the transaction and the Belgian subsidiary's financial capacity.
A Belgian company may not advance funds, grant loans or provide guarantees or security interests to facilitate the acquisition of the shares held in that Belgian company (e.g., a Belgian company may not secure the loan that is used by the borrower to finance the acquisition of the shares held in that Belgian company), unless the procedure is complied with as set out in BCCA: Article 5:152 for the private limited liability company; Article 6:118 for cooperative limited liability company or Article 7:227 for the public limited liability company. This 'whitewash' procedure is very strict and cumbersome, and not often relied upon in practice. One of the requirements is that the financial assistance must be paid out of, and cannot exceed, the distributable profits. Given these requirements, in the authors' experience, it is often not possible to rely on this procedure.
The provisions of an agreement that confer or may confer rights on third parties that have a significant impact on a Belgian listed company's assets and liabilities, or that create a debt or an obligation of such a company when the exercise of these rights depends on the issue of a public takeover bid on the shares of the company or on a change of the control over the company, must be approved by the company's shareholders. The shareholders' resolutions approving the change-of-control clauses must be filed with the relevant commercial court's clerk's office.
Before the BCCA's entry into force, the scope of this legal restriction and filing obligation was not limited to listed companies, but extended to all Belgian public limited companies.
Security agent and parallel debt
As there is no established concept of 'trust' or 'trustee' under the present Belgian legal system, Belgian legal opinions will normally not advise on the precise nature, effect and enforceability in Belgium of the security agent's duties, rights and powers as a trustee, or on the performance or exercise of such duties, rights and powers.
As stated in Section IV, Belgian security interests are often created in favour of a security agent acting in its capacity as an independent creditor of a parallel debt. Although a parallel debt structure is often used and generally accepted by Belgian legal scholars, legal opinions will often include a (light) qualification as to the validity of such a structure as there is no conclusive case law on this matter.
Choice of law
The choice of Belgian or foreign law to govern the contractual aspects of the transaction documents will generally be accepted under Belgian law, subject to certain qualifications. As a rule, these qualifications are derived from Regulation (EC) No. 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) or, if Rome I does not apply, the Belgian Law of 16 July 2004 regarding the code on private international law. For example, the application of foreign law may be refused if it is manifestly incompatible with Belgian laws of public policy or effect may be given to overriding mandatory Belgian law provisions.
A security interest will be subject to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the secured assets are located.
Choice of forum
A jurisdiction clause giving jurisdiction to the courts of Belgium or a foreign jurisdiction will generally be accepted under Belgian law, unless an exclusive ground for jurisdiction applies. The applicability of an exclusive ground for jurisdiction depends on several factors, including the subject matter of the proceedings, the chosen forum and the domicile of one of the parties.
An exclusive ground may be found in different legal acts, including the following:
- Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast) (Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012) (the domicile of the parties is not relevant for this Regulation if parties have agreed a forum);
- the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters signed at Lugano;
- Regulation (EU) No. 2015/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings; and
- the Belgian Law of 16 July 2004 regarding the code on private international law.
For example, parties may generally not freely choose the forum regarding proceedings related to the following:
- the constitution, nullity or dissolution of companies or other legal persons, or associations of natural or legal persons;
- the rights in rem for a certain property;
- entries into public registers; or
- the registration or validity of intellectual property rights.
Recognition of foreign judgments
A final and conclusive judgment handed down by a foreign competent court is recognised and enforced by the Belgian courts subject to and in accordance with one of the following legal acts (depending on the jurisdiction of the court that made the judgment):
- Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012;
- the Lugano Convention; or
- the Belgian Law of 16 July 2004 regarding the code on private international law.
For example, a foreign judgment will not be recognised or enforced if it is manifestly contrary to public policy in Belgium.
ii Opinions practice
Belgian legal opinions covering enforceability are typically given by lenders' legal counsel. Often, Belgian capacity legal opinions will be delivered by borrowers' legal counsel. The authors' have noticed that lenders' legal counsel are increasingly requested to deliver full legal opinions covering both capacity and enforceability. An exception is being made for legal opinions delivered in the context of a US bond offering, as in that case the issuer's Belgian legal counsel will often deliver the full legal opinion.
VI LOAN TRADING
Loans in Belgium may be traded in different ways, including through novation, assignment sub-participations, securitisation or synthetic methods.
The guarantees or security interests securing a traded loan will, as a rule, continue to exist, but in some cases certain measures must be taken. For example, if a loan is transferred through novation, liens and mortgages will only continue to exist if the parties have specifically agreed that the liens and mortgages will not cease to exist following the novation. Certain formalities may also need to be complied with such as the registration of the transfer of a mortgage with the mortgage registry or a pledge created under the Pledge Law with the pledge register.
New lenders and other secondary market purchasers may benefit from a Belgian security interest through different mechanisms. A Belgian security interest securing a parallel debt will also, indirectly, secure a new lender's participation. The lenders will, however, have a credit or insolvency risk against the security agent that is the creditor of the parallel debt. It is also possible to create a pledge over financial instruments such as shares or bank accounts or over other movable assets (whether tangible or intangible) in favour of a security agent acting as a representative to one or more lenders, including new lenders and other secondary market purchasers.
VII OUTLOOK AND CONCLUSIONS
Over the past years, professionals working in the transactional finance practice have welcomed the introduction of the Pledge Law as well as the BCCA in Belgium. The entry into force of these two legal reforms have lifted some of the previously existing impracticalities under Belgian law. Thanks to the Pledge Law, taking security interests over movable assets has become less burdensome and less expensive. The BCCA is more flexible and lowers the administrative burden on companies when entering into financial transactions. Alternative finance methods, such as bond issues or crowdfunding, remain 'hot' topics among finance professionals, and the Belgian legislator has tried to accommodate such methods. However, bank lending is likely to remain by far the most important source of financing in Belgium in the coming years.
1 Yves Brosens is a partner and Audrey Zegers is a managing associate at ALTIUS.
3 NBB, '2018 report', www.nbb.be/doc/ts/publications/nbbreport/2018/nl/t1/verslag2018_volledig.pdf.
4 NBB, '2019 Reporté', www.nbb.be/doc/ts/publications/nbbreport/2019/nl/t1/verslag2019_volledig.pdf.
5 See footnote 4.
6 ECB, 'Survey on the Access to Finance of Enterprises in the euro area', October 2019 to March 2020, www.ecb.europa.eu/stats/ecb_surveys/safe/html/ecb.safe202005~c4b89a43b9.en.html#toc1 (consulted on 15 May 2020).