The European Investment Bank (EIB) continues its strong commitment to small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in the European Union. The EIB’s Board approved a EU programme allowing the EIB to speed up classical lending operations in the SME sector. The volume of the programme will amount to EUR 2 billion in the second quarter of 2014.

Based on the complementarity of the EIB loan for SMEs, the proposed EU Programme Loan is expected to generate up to EUR 4bn of financing. Taking into account the multiplier effect of debt finance, the EIB Programme could thereby support SMEs and Mid-Caps investment in fixed assets and working capital in the EU of up to EUR 8bn which is expected to provide finance to approximately 10 000 SMEs and Mid-Caps across the EU that employ more than 250 000 people.

In the context of significant market fragmentation, this pilot operation reinforces the Bank’s commitment to support SME lending and promote growth in the EU. The dedicated EIB loan for SMEs and Midcaps (with up to 3 000 employees) will finance small and medium-sized projects in the EU. The individual loans will be intermediated by EU financial institutions.

EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, responsible for SMEs, said: “As we still observe seriously hampered investment activities on the part of SMEs, the EIB will now further improve its support by accelerating lending processes. The now approved umbrella of up to 2 billion Euros is an important step in the right direction. Standard operations can now obtain financial backing more swiftly. We expect this new process to further support growth and employment across the EU.”

Support to SMEs has become the single largest policy objective by the EIB Group. In 2013, the EIB and the European Investment Fund contributed a record volume of EUR 21.9 billion to SMEs. A total of approx. 230 000 SMEs received direct or indirect support through EIB Group’s activity. These businesses employed approx. 2.8 million people across Europe in 2013. Exceptional efforts were made to secure access to long-term financing for small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of the European economy. In 2014, the total volume of EIB Group commitment in support of SMEs amounts to EUR 7.3 billion so far.