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Brussels, 29 November 2011

Commissioner Hahn proposes extra support for small companies through structural funds

Brussels, 29 November 2011 - The European Commission today adopted a measure to reinforce investment in businesses in all Member States through financial engineering instruments. The aim is to use structural funds as a guarantee for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to credit. The new measure allows investing in enterprises at any stage of their normal business activity and not only at the time when they are established or are expanding, as was the case until now. This measure is of particular importance in times of lack of liquidity for enterprises and public budgetary constraints.

At the end of 2010, €7.4 billion of combined European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and national contributions (public and private) were invested in enterprises using financial engineering instruments in 15 Member States. Around €1 billion of ERDF resources were committed to guarantee funds. These tools allow a clear multiplier effect of EU funds of around 6 times: i.e for every €16 of resources "blocked" to cover losses plus any guarantee fees and interest subsidies, an amount of €100 is guaranteed for enterprises. Today's decision expands the scope of interventions of these instruments, providing much needed relief to SMEs in a period of economic crisis and restrictions to credit.

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