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Helping businesses to access EU finance: single portal now includes Structural Funds

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From today businesses around Europe will have easier access to much needed finance as the European Commission expands the single portal on EU finance, to include EU Structural Funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

The single portal on EU finance will help SMEs find much needed financing easily and quickly. One of the key priorities for the Commission is to simplify and reduce the obstacles that business faces. The addition of the EU Structural Funds to the single portal represents an important milestone. At the same time, we also want to encourage Member States and regions to use EU financial instruments since they can enhance the impact of cohesion policy. They are catalysts for crucial investments needed to provide a vital boost to the European economy and create jobs.

Launched last month, the new single portal on EU finance provides easy, complete and up-to-date information on how entrepreneurs and SMEs can access over €100 billion of EU financing from various 2007-2013 programmes. Today’s additions will double the number of partner banks and funds to over 1 000, further strengthening a vital information source for SME financing through guarantees, loans and venture capital (MEMO/13/606).

Access to finance is one of the most pressing problems facing SMEs in Europe. In the last two years almost one-third of the SMEs applying for bank loans were refused or ended up getting less than requested. This month's European Small Business Finance Outlook confirms that the business environment for European SMEs is getting worse and euro area banks have tightened their credit standards. Information and access to EU funding is more important for businesses than ever before. Structural funds are already providing help for SMEs of around 70 billion euros for the 2007-13 period.

On the occasion of the conference European support for SMEs for the period 2014 – 2020, today in Brussels, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship and European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn commented: "The single portal on EU finance will help SMEs find much needed financing easily and quickly. One of the key priorities for the Commission is to simplify and reduce the obstacles that business faces. The addition of the EU Structural Funds to the single portal represents an important milestone. At the same time, we also want to encourage Member States and regions to use EU financial instruments since they can enhance the impact of cohesion policy. They are catalysts for crucial investments needed to provide a vital boost to the European economy and create jobs.”

IP/13/387 - MEMO/13/393 Improving access to finance for SMEs: key to economic recovery

The new single access point to all EU financial instruments for SMEs

Information on available EU financial instruments

EU financial instruments for SMEs covered by the website include the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), Progress Microfinance, the Risk-Sharing Instrument (FP7), EIB loans for SMEs and now Member States’ national and regional Operational Programmes implementing cohesion policy objectives.

User-friendly website for SMEs

The single portal provides detailed information on how SMEs can apply for finance supported by the EU, via one of approximately 1000 banks and other financial institutions.

The single portal on EU finance enables entrepreneurs and companies to find tailor-made financing according to their specific financial needs such as company size, type of finance and investment focus. The portal is accessible in various EU languages and for all EU and candidate countries.

Access to finance in the regions- Crucial for return to growth

Financial instruments have become an increasingly important delivery tool of EU cohesion policy during 2007-2013. At the end of 2011, more than €3.6 billion has already been invested in enterprises through almost 68 000 loans, guarantee, venture capital/equity and other financial products.

By the end of 2011, a total of 484 specific funds for businesses (loan, guarantee, equity/venture capital and other) were set up in 25 Member States and one cross-border cooperation region. Overall, in the 2007-13 period to date, €69.7 billion of ERDF and ESF went towards SME support - this goes up to at least €95.4 billion respectively if the national co-financing is taken into account. By the end of December 2012, the financial instruments of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework (CIP) Programme mobilised almost €13bn of guarantees and more than €2.3bn of venture capital. Over 220,000 SMEs had already benefited from the programme across Europe. European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani has asked to increase the budget of CIP financial instruments by €19 million to help SMEs having difficulties accessing finance.

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