Re: Why contract these days?
"I don't think companies are allowed to do the furlough thing in Europe."
If you are a contractor, of course they are. They key distinction between employees and contractors is mutuality of obligation.
Employees have mutuality of obligation, employer is obliged to provide work for them to do (or rather, pay them whether they provide the work or not), and the employee is obliged to do it in line with the terms of their contract of employment.
Contractors have no mutuality of obligation, so yes, they can indeed be told to take two weeks off, obviously unpaid.
On the other hand, two weeks is plenty of time to attend enough interviews to secure an offer, if your holiday plans don't happen to coincide with it.