The ESF was established in 2020 to counter economic impacts resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, the purpose of the ESF was expanded to include mitigating the consequences of the energy crisis.
Tasks in the context of the coronavirus pandemic
The ESF aims to stabilise companies in the real economy and avert negative effects on the labour market. In principle, it was aimed at commercial enterprises that met two of the following three criteria in the last two financial years already closed on the balance sheet before 1 January, 2020:
- Balance sheet total of more than € 43 mn,
- more than € 50 mn in sales revenue and
- more than 249 employees on an annual average.
Applications could be submitted until April 2022 to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. A decision on these had to be made by 30 June 2022. The Federal Ministry of Finance, in agreement with the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action and, in special cases, an interministerial committee, decides at the company's request on stabilisation measures to be taken, taking account of
- the importance of the company for Germany's economy,
- the urgency,
- the impact on the labour market and competition, and
- the principle of using the resources of the Economic Stabilisation Fund in the most economical way.
The interministerial committee for the ESF, which is chaired by the Federal Ministry of Finance and includes, among others, the Finance Agency as an advisory member, otherwise decides by consensus on matters of principle as well as matters of particular importance and takes decisions on essential measures and conditions.
The legal structuring and contractual implementation of approved stabilisation measures was carried out by the Finance Agency. It was also entrusted with the administration of the ESF and is responsible, among other things, for monitoring the measures granted. In addition, it supported the Federal Ministry of Finance with advisory services on the structuring and implementation of stabilisation measures.
Tasks of the ESF in the context of the energy crisis
The ESF also serves to finance measures taken by the Federal government as a result of the energy crisis. According to section 26a StFG, this includes the following:
- the financing of state programmes to cushion price increases in the purchase and use of gas and district heating, in particular by consumers and companies (gas price brake),
- the financing and interim financing of programmes to cushion price increases in the purchase of electricity, in particular by consumers and businesses (electricity price brake),
- the financing of support measures for companies in difficulties due to the energy crisis, in particular to the extent that they are not covered to a sufficient extent by the electricity and gas price brake, as well as for gas importers relevant for market stability, including the financing of replacement purchases on the energy markets, to the extent that they are not covered to a sufficient extent by the gas price brake, as well as
- the granting of loans to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau for the refinancing of programmes and support measures pursuant to numbers 1 to 3, insofar as corresponding transactions are assigned to it by the Federal government on the basis of Section 2 (4) of the Act on the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.
All revenues and expenditures of the Economic Stabilisation Fund in the context of the energy crisis are estimated in an annual economic plan and adopted together with the budget law from the year 2023 onwards.