Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

New survey on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE) highlights Covid-19’s devastating effect on SMEs and their access to finance

New survey on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE) highlights Covid-19’s devastating effect on SMEs and their access to finance
Published on: 23/11/2020
The survey shows how SME financing conditions were affected by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic across Europe and indicates the associated disruption in the business activity of many companies. The survey provides key insights into the sources and magnitude of the inflationary pressures perceived by EU SMEs.

The survey results reflect the opinions of SMEs, based on their experiences over the last six months. It questioned SMEs about the importance of various issues affecting access to finance, such as uses and relevant sources of funding, application and outcome, needs and availability, as well as purpose and expectations.

According to the findings, SMEs

  • believe the depressed economic outlook has reduced their access to finance by 40% (in net terms, i.e. more companies reported a decrease than an increase), the lowest recorded figure in the history of the survey
  • applied for bank loans more in 2020 with a total percentage of 35% of SMEs applying compared to 24% the previous year
  • saw their turnover decrease for the first time since 2014 with a reduction of 44% in net terms

SAFE was carried out in cooperation with the European Central Bank. It samples almost 17,000 companies in Europe from April to September 2020. Conducted between 7 September and 16 October 2020, it covers micro, small, medium-sized and large firms.  

More information

See the SAFE webpage for the results, including data files and an analytical report.