Brussels, 30 June 2014
Unleashing Europe's potential through mobilising up to €25 billion of finance for SMEs
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani has announced that SMEs in Europe will soon have the opportunity to access up to €25 billion of additional finance supported by the COSME programme (the EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). The programme will allow financial institutions throughout Europe to provide enhanced access to finance to up to 330 000 SMEs.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “It is evident that public support continues to play a crucial role in enhancing access to finance for SMEs. Indeed, the existing EU support measures have facilitated SME survival, development and success across the EU. Even more importantly, the new EU financing initiatives for SMEs will continue in the future. We expect that the new COSME financial instruments will be finalised before the summer break. This agreement is an excellent example of how the EU can support small companies to finance their investments in order to grow and create jobs.”
COSME mobilises loans and equity investments to SMEs in Europe. The COSME programme will fund guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions to help them provide more loans and lease finance mainly up to €150,000 to SMEs. This facility will also include securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios. The COSME programme will also invest in equity funds that provide risk capital to SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth-stage.
The COSME programme builds on the success of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007-2013) which helped to mobilise more than €16 billion of loans and €2.8 billion of venture capital to over 311,000 SMEs in Europe.
Access to EU finance
The EU finance portal provides easy, complete and up-to-date information on how entrepreneurs and SMEs can access over €100 billion of EU financing through various EU programmes during the next seven years. The 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 portal is accessible in all EU languages and for all EU and candidate countries.
Access to national sources of finance
To facilitate access to finance, the European Commission published today a practical guide for SMEs providing information on how to access every year over €50 billion of public finance in the 28 Member States. It presents over 100 national or regional financing programmes and provides key information helping SMEs to apply for the different programmes in terms of characteristics, terms, conditions and contact information.
More than 600 Enterprise Europe Network partners advise on access to finance
Last week the European Commission organised training on access to finance for staff members of the Enterprise Europe Network so that they can better advise SMEs how to find the right financing. The Commission has established the Enterprise Europe Network to help SMEs to become more competitive, to internationalize and to find business and technology partners. The network is represented in 51 countries with 600 partner organizations. SMEs wishing to access finance, can contact the nearest member of the Enterprise Europe Network, who will be able to provide information on EU and national sources of finance.
The recently published ECB survey on the access to finance confirms that the overall business environment of SMEs in Europe is still in a weak shape. The availability of bank loans for SMEs continues to deteriorate by 4% in the euro zone. Imbalances between the EU Member States are still significant. Interest rates for small loans remain at a record rate above 5% in Greece, Portugal and Spain compared to below 3% in France and Austria.