Green light for SME financing before summer

Following a decision by the board of the European Investment Bank (EIB), small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) across Europe should be able to benefit from the first funds from the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) before summer.

The decision will allow for the pre-financing of SME projects linked to the investment plan for Europe before summer.

The plan will mobilise at least €315 billion in private and public investment across the European Union.

European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness and steering the investment plan’s implementation, participated in the EIB board of governors’ meeting and welcomed the decision: “This is a great day for European small businesses. This news from the EIB means that by summer, cash-starved SMEs and innovative mid-caps across Europe could be benefiting from an injection of badly-needed capital. We have said that we want to help get Europe investing again – and today we are doing exactly that.”

The money can be made available to SMEs by the European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the EIB-Group, which will cover the risk of transactions with intermediaries providing additional finance to SMEs and small mid-caps until the main EFSI is in place.

The EFSI – at the heart of the investment plan - should be up and running by September 2015 at the latest. Infrastructure projects may also benefit from similar pre-financing arrangements before EFSI is fully set up, but later than SMEs.

The aim is to adopt the draft EFSI regulation by July 2015 at the latest so that the EFSI can be established no later than September 2015 and funds can start flowing by the autumn.

Work on the other parts of the investment plan, including the establishment of a project pipeline of European investment opportunities and a European Investment Advisory Hub, is being fast-tracked to ensure that these are ready by the time the EFSI is active.

Due to the economic and financial crisis, the level of investment in the EU has dropped by about 15 per cent since its peak in 2007.

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