Access to finance for SMEs

Access to finance for SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent over 99% of businesses in the EU so it is crucial to support their growth and innovation. However, one of the most important issues facing SMEs is their difficulty accessing finance. The European Commission works to improve the financing environment for small businesses in Europe.

What the Commission does

The Commission works with financial institutions to improve the funding available to SMEs by stimulating the provision of loans and venture capital through financial instruments.

The Commission also helps EU countries share good policy on improving access to finance which allows them to benefit from the experience of others.

Practical information for SMEs looking for financing

EU financing programmes are generally not provided as direct funding. Aid is channelled through local, regional, or national authorities, or through financial intermediaries such as banks and venture capital organisations that provide funding through financial instruments.

To find such intermediaries, visit the EU Access to Finance portal.

Direct aid is only available to projects that specifically contribute to the implementation of an EU programme or policy, see calls for proposals

Main EU initiatives

Policy areas

The European Commission uses financial instruments and helps EU countries share good policy in areas such as loans and guarantees, venture capital, business angels, growth stock markets, and crowdfunding.

Policy areas

Data and surveys - SAFE

The Commission monitors developments in SMEs’ access to finance through the joint European Commission/European Central Bank Survey on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE).

Data and surveys - SAFE

EU Access to Finance Days for SMEs

The Commission organises a series of EU Access to Finance Days for SMEs across all EU countries to raise awareness about the availability of EU funding.

EU Access to Finance Days