The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term lending institution, is making EUR 350m available for investment by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. For businesses in these countries the EIB's involvement means that they benefit from a lower interest rate. With the finance supported by the EIB, individual firms' investment costs can be covered 100%, up to a maximum of EUR 12.5m per project.

"The European Investment Bank continues to provide support for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, together with ING. It is very important for small businesses throughout Europe to have access to funds with which they can finance their investments and to be able to make the most of new opportunities in economically difficult times", said Pim van Ballekom, EIB Vice-President responsible for lending operations in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

"We are pleased that the European Investment Bank is once again giving us the opportunity to support our customers in the SME segment of the market in this way", added Hans van der Noordaa, who is responsible at ING for banking activities in the Benelux. "This is the fifth time in just over four years that we have entered into a finance contract with the European Investment Bank. This brings the total amount available in the Benelux to EUR 1.3bn. Our customers are enthusiastic about this and are gratefully making use of the facility. Including this new round of financing, we will be helping a total of around 2 400 companies to receive funding on more favourable terms."

The new financing programme is being launched in January. For Belgium and Luxembourg EUR 140m is available, in the form of loans and lease finance.

"We are pleased with this new lending programme and also with the ongoing cooperation with the European Investment Bank. This gives us further scope for supporting our SME customers with their sound projects. It is extremely important that our smaller businesses also have access to the financial resources they need to be able to carry out their projects”, said Erik Van Den Eynden, Head of Midcorporate & Institutional Clients at ING Belgium.

This new agreement marks the start of another round of financial support provided via ING to the SME segment of the market in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg now that ING's previous round of funding has already found its way to these businesses.