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Improving access to finance for SMEs: key to economic recovery

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will drive the recovery in Europe, but they need improved and easy access to finance. Over the last few years the European Commission has been constantly working to improve their situation.

This commitment is reiterated in a joint European Commission/European Investment Bank (EIB) Group report published today. At a time when the situation remains difficult, the EIB Group's support for SMEs reached €13 billion in 2012. In addition, with a budget of €1.1 billion, Commission-funded guarantees helped to mobilise loans worth more than €13 billion, boosting nearly 220 000 small businesses across Europe. Today´s report covers the results of the current funding schemes as well as the new generation of financial instruments for SMEs. Financial resources for SMEs will be significantly enhanced through the €10 billion increase in the EIB’s capital.

As part of the Commission’s continuing efforts to support SMEs, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, today also launched a new single online portal on all EU financial instruments for SMEs as well an information guide to promote SME stock listings, at a meeting of the SME Finance Forum on the eve of an Informal Competitiveness Council on 2 and 3 May in Dublin.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "Access to finance of SMEs remains difficult and is one of the main reasons for the current economic downturn. Therefore we intend to enlarge our loan guarantees to SMEs under the new COSME programme as of 2014. Each euro dedicated to our guarantees has the power to stimulate - on average – 30 euros in bank loans. This is crucial to help Europe's jobs engine, our small enterprises, to run smoothly again. It is they who create 85% of all new jobs."

Almost 220,000 SMEs profited from Commission CIP programme

With a budget of €1.1 billion, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) has helped to mobilise over €13 billion of loans and €2.3 billion of venture capital for SMEs across Europe. Under its SME guarantee facility, CIP has helped nearly 220,000 SMEs to access loans. These loan guarantees are used in cases where the entrepreneur or the small enterprises do not have sufficient collateral to offer and the bank will not provide a loan. 90% of the beneficiaries have 10 or less employees and this is the category that has most difficulties to get a loan. The average guaranteed loan is about €65,000.

Each euro dedicated to CIP guarantees has a power to mobilise - on average – 30 Euros in bank loans. As a result, with a limited budget of €1.1 billion, CIP was able to stimulate so far more than €15 billion of financing for SMEs.

Single access point to all EU financial instruments for SMEs

The new single access point provides simple and easy access to over €100 billion of EU financing available under the different EU programmes in the current programme period (2007-2013). Europe is providing a mix of flexible financial instruments under programmes such as the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), Progress Microfinance, the Risk Sharing Instrument (FP7), EIB loans and Structural Funds.

Better access to equity markets – promotion of SME listings

The European Commission also launched today a targeted information campaign to promote SME listings and stimulate investors’ interest in SMEs and mid-caps. To this end the Commission published a web-based information guide for SME stock listings. This tool provides advice to small and medium-sized businesses on how to go public.

It will be combined with the creation of an award for the best European stock market listings among small and mid-cap companies.

 

Carlo Corazza