The European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed agreements in France and Austria that will unlock over EUR 1 billion worth of loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across nine countries. These transactions benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. In Vienna, the EIF signed an EFSI-backed InnovFin SME guarantee agreement with UniCredit which will allow the bank to offer additional financing worth EUR 160 million to innovative SMEs in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. In Paris, the EIF signed an agreement with Banque Populaire and the Federation Nationale des SOCAMA which will allow SOCAMA to support additional loans worth EUR 1 billion to an estimated 33,000 French SMEs over the next two years. Commenting on the agreement in France, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “This latest agreement made possible by the Investment Plan for Europe will unlock a billion euro in loans for tens of thousands of SMEs in France. Facilitating access to the finance that smaller businesses need to innovate and expand is a key component of the Commission’s efforts to boost investment, employment and growth throughout Europe.”
The Commission will set out today how it will step up its efforts on the application, implementation and enforcement of EU law for the benefit of all citizens, consumers and businesses. Common European rules matter in our daily lives – whether they increase food safety, improve air quality or make it easier and cheaper for SMEs to bid for public contracts. Often, when issues come to the fore – think of car emission testing, water pollution or illegal landfills – the problem is not the lack of EU rules but rather the lack of their effective application by Member States. That is why we need a robust and efficient enforcement system with the following components: (a) making sure that Member States live up to their responsibility to respect and enforce the rules they themselves had jointly put in place; (b) focusing the Commission’s enforcement on those cases where it makes a substantial difference, and stepping up financial sanctions for Member States when they fail to transpose directives on time; (c) raising citizens’ and businesses’ awareness of their rights.
Today, the European Commission welcomes the signature of the funding agreement between the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and the Romanian Government, the first step in the implementation of the SME initiative in the country. The programme, worth €100 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and combined with additional resources from the EIB Group and Horizon 2020, will leverage almost €580 million of new loans for Romanian SMEs and start-ups. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Romanian SMEs are competitive and provide the vast majority of job opportunities in the country. They just need an additional boost to expand beyond their local markets and develop their research and innovation capacity. And the SME initiative will help them do just that.” Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu added:“I am proud to see Romania in the leading group of Member States implementing this Initiative and using the European Structural and Investment Funds in an innovative way. It is a concrete response to the challenges Romanian small businesses are currently facing.“
After the signature of the funding agreement, the Italian SME Initiative programme kicks off today in Rome. This investment package is worth €200 million, with half from the national budget and half from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) resources. Thanks to the leverage effect and with additional resources from the European Investment Bank Group and the EU programme COSME, the Initiative will provide €1.2 billion of new loans for SMEs and start-ups in Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Small businesses provide the vast majority of job opportunities in the South of Italy. They deserve a helping hand. The launch of the SME initiative today is a strong signal of our commitment to support these businesses in their expansion, for the direct benefit of the real economy. It will lead to job creation in the region.”Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “The SME initiative launched today will give a boost to businesses in the South of Italy. It will give them access to funding, and will increase the competitiveness of the regional economy. It gives me the occasion to reiterate that I wish to see more countries join the initiative.” In the coming days, the European Investment Fund (EIF) will publish a call for expressions of interest to select eligible financial intermediaries (banks, guarantee institutions, leasing companies).
The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Erste Bank have signed a Social Entrepreneurship and a micro-finance guarantee agreement aimed at supporting more than 500 micro and social-enterprises in Austria under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). These agreements enable Erste Bank to provide a total of €10 million to over 500 micro and social entrepreneurs, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banking sources. Social entrepreneurs and micro-borrowers will be able to benefit from loans at a reduced interest rate, without providing collateral under the EU-supported programme. The EIF also signed a microfinance agreement with Erste Bank to benefit micro-enterprises. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “Thanks to EU funding and the support of the Austrian government, Erste Bank is opening a completely new credit line for social enterprises and will continue to provide microcredit and business services to 500 micro-entrepreneurs in Austria. The unemployed and people with a migrant background that are usually excluded from commercial bank funding will benefit from loans on preferential conditions, and be able to create their own jobs. By improving access to finance in the social sectors and for the most vulnerable people, the European Commission is showing its commitment to fight poverty and social exclusion in Europe through the creation of jobs.” The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Tenax Capital Limited (Tenax) have signed an InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in Italy to provide €50 million to innovative small and medium sized businesses in Italy. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Thanks to this new InnovFin EFSI agreement, Italian innovative SMEs and small mid-caps will benefit from a new injection of finance. Tenax will be able to provide companies with financing solutions at a reduced overall interest rate. I am pleased to see that the Investment Plan of Europe is enjoying such success in Italy and I encourage other Member States to follow its lead.”
One of the main success stories of the Investment Plan for Europe has been the interest by financial intermediaries across Europe to use the EU budget guarantee to provide finance to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Therefore, as we announced on 1 June in our stock-take of the Investment Plan for Europe, we are scaling up the SME window of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). This week, the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group have signed an agreement to make this a reality. The agreement reinforces the SME window by shifting EUR 500 million from the EU guarantee from the Infrastructure and Innovation window to the SME window; and it uses the EFSI guarantee to boost equity financing of SMEs and top up the InnovFin and COSME loan guarantee instruments as well as the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). These measures will allow the European Investment Fund (EIF) to finance a significant extra volume of operations, meaning more EFSI-backed equity and loans will reach European SMEs, including those in the social sector.
The European Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) today launched a €121 million guarantee initiative to support SMEs in the cultural and creative sectors via financial institutions. This scheme is expected to create more than €600 million worth of bank loans over the next six years.Guarantee institutions, commercial and promotional banks as well as other financial intermediaries benefiting from the €121 million guarantee will support more than ten thousand SMEs in a wide range of sectors such as audio-visual (including film, television, animation, video games and multimedia), festivals, music, literature, architecture, archives, libraries and museums, artistic crafts, cultural heritage, design, performing arts, publishing, radio and visual arts. The financial instrument, set-up under Creative Europe– the main EU programme dedicated to the cultural and creative sectors –will be managed by the EIF on behalf of the European Commission. Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger welcomed the initiative launched today: “Creative minds and companies need to experiment and take risks to thrive, for our society and for our economy. We are helping them to get the bank loans they would normally not get.” EIF Deputy Chief Executive Roger Havenith said: “Helping business to scale up and access market-based financing solutions is high on the European Commission’s agenda. Providing credit risk protection and capacity building for finance providers are two essential ingredients in the recipe for support for SMEs in the cultural and creative sectors. The Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility which we are signing today will help SMEs from the film to festival and music to museum arena across Europe to start up and develop.” A press release in all EU languages is available here as well as a set of questions and answers.
One year on from its launch, MEPs voiced sharply divided verdicts on the progress of the €315 billion investment plan for Europe, or “Juncker plan”, in Wednesday’s debate with EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen. While the EPP and S&D broadly welcomed the work of the “European Fund for Strategic Investment” (EFSI) and the Commission’s announcement that it proposes to extend the lifetime of the plan, MEPs from smaller groups were sceptical about its achievements to date.
Commissioner Katainen said that the Juncker Plan had helped to remove barriers to investment and highlighted its benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Over 185 agreements between the EFSI and banks would provide finance for over 150,000 SMEs, he said, adding that the Commission planned to present proposals later this year to extend the three-year term of the EFSI and to expand investment into third countries.
Statement by Jyrki KATAINEN, Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness
Political group speakers (Click on name to view the statements in full)
Othmar KARAS (EPP, AT) welcomed the proposal to extend the life of the plan and said it was one of the key answers to Europe’s structural problems.
Gianni PITTELLA (S&D, IT) said that while Europe needs an investment plan, it also needs to ensure that it provides for additional funding.
Sander LOONES (ECR, BE) suggested it was too early to assess the success of the EFSI and warned against “rushing in” with plans to extend investment into third countries.
Pavel TELIČKA (ALDE, CZ) said he remained a supporter of the plan but that the type of projects being funded and their quality needed to be reviewed.
Miguel VIEGAS (GUE/NGL, PT) said the plan had allowed large companies to dominate and had focused on richer, more developed areas.
Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/EFA, BE) called for more money for the plan and said it should focus on countries which lack investment and have most potential for renewable energy projects..
Nigel FARAGE (EFDD, UK) said that the EU’s “grand plans”, such as this, had sown the seeds of its own destiny. Looking ahead to the UK’s 23 June “independence day” referendum, he said he hoped that this would be the last time he spoke in this Parliament..
Steeve BRIOIS (ENF, FR) described the EFSI as a “total failure” saying that it had focused financing on large, urban areas which had aggravated regional disparities
The European Commission today presented guidance aimed at supporting consumers, businesses and public authorities to engage confidently in the collaborative economy. The collaborative economy (sometimes called the sharing economy) refers to a new way for people to offer and use products and services through online platforms, on a profit or non-profit basis. These new business models can make an important contribution to jobs and growth in the European Union, if encouraged and developed in a responsible manner. The Communication, which was announced in the Single Market Strategy, provides guidance on how existing EU law should be applied to this dynamic and fast-evolving sector, clarifying key issues faced by market operators and public authorities alike, namely market access requirements, consumer protection, liability, labour law and tax. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “A competitive European economy requires innovation, be it in the area of products or services. Europe’s next unicorn could stem from the collaborative economy. Our role is to encourage a regulatory environment that allows new business models to develop while protecting consumers and ensuring fair taxation and employment conditions.” Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The collaborative economy is an opportunity for consumers, entrepreneurs and businesses – provided we get it right. If we allow our Single Market to be fragmented along national or even local lines, Europe as a whole risks losing out. Today we are providing legal guidance for public authorities and market operators for the balanced and sustainable development of these new business models. We invite Member States to review their regulation in the light of this guidance and stand ready to support them in this process.” A press release, frequently asked questions, a factsheet and a Eurobarometer poll are available online. A press conference can be followed live on Ebs at 12:30.