The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Flemish investment group PMV have signed a COSME agreement in Flanders, Belgium, benefiting from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) through which the Investment Plan for Europe is being deployed by the European Commission and the EIB Group.

The agreement will allow Participatiefonds Vlaanderen, a subsidiary of PMV, to provide EUR 40 million of loans to SMEs in Belgium over the next two years. The number of loans granted will increase significantly as a result of a guarantee from EIF under the COSME programme, with financial backing from the European Commission. The agreement will make it possible for Participatiefonds Vlaanderen to support additional financing at favourable conditions to over 700 SMEs.

Speaking at the event in Brussels, Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility said: I am very pleased that we are signing the first EFSI agreement with partners in Flanders today. More than 700 SMEs will be able to access EUR 40 million in funding through new loans. The Investment Plan for Europe has been designed to create new jobs and boost innovation. Today this commitment turns into reality in Flanders."

Flemish Minister-President Geert Bourgeois added: "From the start the Government of Flanders has supported the Juncker plan which is being carried out since September. With this partnership between PMV and the EIF, we are now taking concrete steps to make the European Fund for Strategic Investments operational in Flanders. Together with the European Union, the Government of Flanders creates sustainable investment with a focus on job creation. This begins with targeted support of state of the art SMEs."

Commenting on the signature at the event in Brussels, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am pleased to be signing this EFSI SME guarantee agreement in Belgium under the COSME programme. Working with PMV with whom we have supported SMEs in the past, we will be able to help entrepreneurs to grow and develop their businesses”.

Michel Casselman, CEO at PMV said: "We’re extremely excited that this agreement allows us to lend an even bigger hand to SMEs in Flanders than we did before.  These EFSI-funds will find their way to our most promising SMEs thanks to the loans we provide with the Start+ and SME-cofinance schemes, managed by our Participatiefonds Vlaanderen."

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