Commission encourages use of EU financial instruments in Greece

EPUnder the auspices of the Greek Presidency of the European Union, the European Commission holds today (27 March) in Athens an ‘EU Access to Finance Day’, a conference devoted to the new generation of EU financial instruments to support small and medium-sized businesses from 2014 to 2020.

The aim of today’s conference is to pave the way for implementation of EU financial instruments in Greece, including instruments that will be available within the landmark Commission’s initiative to support small and medium-sized enterprises – the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) programme. From 2014 to 2020, COSME will help to bridge the market gap in the provision of SME financing. It is expected that it will provide from €14-21 billion of SME financing in loans or investments, boosting between 220,000 and 330,000 SMEs in Europe over the lifetime of the programme.

The conference will give a broad overview of the future EU financial instruments available within the COSME and Horizon 2020 programmes, European Structural and Investment Funds as well as the Creative Europe programme. The SME-focused activities of the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund will also be presented. The conference will provide for an opportunity to explain mechanisms of these instruments and to spark interest among financial institutions in Greece to become intermediaries for the EU programmes. An effective partnership between EU institutions and market operators committed to providing enhanced access to finance for SMEs is a pre-condition for a successful roll-out of financial instruments.

The event has been co-organized by the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission and the Greek Ministry for Development and Competitiveness.

Enhancing liquidity, especially for SMEs, is currently for Greece a major priority. To this end, the Greek Ministry of Development and Competitiveness has been mobilizing numerous tools, including funds through the European Investment Bank and financial instruments through the Hellenic Fund for Entrepreneurship and Development (ETEAN S.A.). In addition, the Institution for Growth in Greece – IfG, an investment fund that aims at restoring liquidity for Greek enterprises, has been set up and is expected to start functioning shortly.

All SME finance stakeholders (chambers of commerce, business organisations, financial institutions) were invited to participate and learn more about a type of EU support that Greece has only used so far to a limited extent. The conference is one of a series of events being organised in all EU Member States from autumn 2013 until spring 2015.

More information on the EU Access to Finance Days

More about EU financial instruments

A wide range of EU financial instruments have been designed to catalyse investments in SME sector through loans guarantees, equity investments and other risk-bearing mechanisms and to support viable SMEs which find hard accessing finance either due to their perceived higher risk or their lack of sufficient available collateral

These instruments constitute an efficient tool to stimulate the provision of finance – a prerequisite for the development of SME-friendly environment in Europe.

EU assistance is channelled through selected financial intermediaries, such as banks, leasing companies, mutual guarantee societies or venture capital funds, who are willing to subscribe to strong SME finance enhancing conditions (see MEMO/13/909).

Results of EU financial instruments for SMEs

The European Commission’s financial instruments have already been a success. One of the main programmes – the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP, 2007-13), which the European Investment Fund has managed on behalf of the Commission – has facilitated so far more than €15 billion worth of loans and €2.4bn in venture capital to over 275 000 SMEs across Europe.

More about the COSME programme

The Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) programme follows in the footsteps of the CIP programme.

COSME is first and foremost an instrument that will improve access to finance for SMEs, support their internationalisation and improve their access to markets.

60% of COSME’s estimated budget of €2.3 bn will be dedicated to financial instruments, providing guarantees and venture capital and encouraging the flow of credit and investment into the SME sector.

COSME financial instruments will largely continue the successful activities of CIP and are expected to respond even better to SME needs, targeting the more vulnerable categories of small businesses that are currently underserved by the market.

In order to cater for the diversity of the SME financing market in Europe, COSME will only provide a framework, allowing financial intermediaries to create individual products that best suit the needs of SMEs in their particular market.

COSME financial instruments will work in conjunction with Horizon 2020, the programme for research and innovation.

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