Frequently asked questions and answers
- How can I get finance for my business?
The EU has several programmes designed to help small businesses get direct or indirect access to finance:
- The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) has established a set of financial instruments with a budget over €1bn to facilitate access to loans and equity finance for SMEs. These funds are made available to the businesses through financial intermediaries in the EU countries.
- The European Investment Bank has lending programmes that can benefit small businesses (the EIB loans for SMEs). These programmes can be accessed via financial institutions in the Member States. For a list of the financial intermediaries in every country please check the EIB website;
- Structural funds: at regional level, the JEREMIE initiative (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) also provides financing for small and medium sized businesses.
- Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7): the SME Techweb site gives further details on how SMEs can participate in FP7. In addition, SMEs can participate in riskier projects using the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF).;
- Grants: the EU also provides grants aimed at specific policy objectives like research or education, mostly funding cooperative projects. Some of these can be relevant for small businesses [91 KB] . All grants are accessed through calls for proposals at specified times.
For more information on this topic please visit our quick guide to funding. If you have specific queries you can contact the Enterprise Europe Network in your country or visit the website Your Europe - Business.
- What are the EU Finance Days for SMEs?
The European Commission has launched in 2008 a series of conferences in all Member States' capitals to raise and improve the awareness of the EU financial instruments. The EU Finance Days for SMEs inform local organisations that advice small businesses about debt and equity sources of finance and provide a forum to share good practices with other stakeholders.
- What does the EU do to improve businesses' access to finance?
The EU works in a twofold direction: to achieve better policies in this field and to provide financial instruments to facilitate businesses' access to finance.
At policy level, the European Commission works with the Member States to stimulate the provision of loans and venture capital for businesses, especially small ones.
In practice, the Commission is also helping small businesses to overcome financial market weaknesses, by increasing the opportunities for small businesses to get finance from banks, guarantee providers and venture capital funds through specific financial instruments.
- What is the Enterprise Finance Index?
The Enterprise Finance Index contains a wide range of data on access to finance across the EU, helping policymakers evaluate the effects of policies on small and medium-sized business finance across Europe. The Index brings together figures from different national and international sources concerning the use of loans, guarantees, venture capital and business angel finance across the European Union. Total volumes, interest rates and number of operations and/or beneficiaries are some of the data that can be found under these headings.