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Romanian small businesses to benefit from new funding under the SME initiative

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    Date: 20 October 2016
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The EIB Group (European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund) has concluded an agreement with the Government of Romania and the European Commission for the implementation of the SME Initiative in Romania, which will support Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs). It is expected that circa EUR 540 million of new SME financing will be provided under this Initiative.

Romania is contributing EUR 100 million from its European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to this EU initiative, which will be leveraged with commercial lending through a risk-sharing mechanism. In addition to the contribution from the EIB Group, this will result in more SMEs benefiting from European resources on advantageous terms, such as reduced interest rates and improved collateral requirements. This financial instrument will act as a catalyst for private investment and foster job creation within the SME community.

The SME Initiative entails an innovative change in the use of ESI Funds, combining the latter with EU central budget (resources from the Horizon 2020 Programme) and EIB Group funds. Following the signature today, the EIF will shortly publish an open call for expression of interest, inviting banks and other financial intermediaries to apply. Once selected, these banks and other financial intermediaries will make new funding opportunities available to SMEs.

EIB Vice-President, Andrew McDowell said: “The SME Initiative has become a reality across various EU Member States. The SME Initiative is a model of efficient utilisation of Structural Funds. ESI Funds made available by Romania are expected to eventually generate new investments, economic growth and employment. The EIB’s participation involves significant advantages for SMEs on the ground, who will benefit from the Bank’s affordable lending rates and long lending tenors. The EIB is a long standing partner of the Romanian economy, having provided more than EUR 10bn of lending since it started its operations in Romania back in 1990. Between 2011 and 2015 EIB provided EUR 2.6bn of new financing, in various sectors. EIB activity perspectives in Romania for the current year are strong, with over EUR 900m of operations already signed, including today’s SME Initiative.”

Commenting on the new initiative, EIF Head of Mandate Management Hubert Cottogni said: “I am pleased that EIF and Romania are implementing this joint initiative, which should generate EUR 580 million of SME financing. EIF is the manager of the JEREMIE Romania mandate, which was successfully implemented via seven financial intermediaries, which led the Romanian authorities to turn to EIF for the SME Initiative. The combination of ESI Funds, EU Horizon 2020 and EIB Group resources allows EIF to provide risk-sharing and capital relief to financial intermediaries to benefit SMEs.”

Commenting on this new initiative Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "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."

The SME Initiative Programme for Romania, adopted in March 2016 and funded by EUR 100 million from European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), is part of a broader initiative of the European Commission and the EIB Group, to encourage Member States to double their use of ESI Funds invested through financial instruments in 2014-2020.

The SME Initiative is a joint financial instrument of the European Commission and the EIB Group.  It was designed as a fast and effective response instrument to increase lending to the real economy, create jobs and stimulate growth.

The European Commission adopted the Operational Programme SME Initiative for Romania on 23 March 2016 to boost the competiveness of Romania's micro, small and medium-sized businesses through increased access to finance.

About EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the EIB Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

About the EIB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the EU’s long-term lending institution and is owned by the EU Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment, contributing to growth, jobs, regional convergence and climate action in Europe and beyond.

To maximise growth and job creation, the EIB targets four priority areas: innovation and skills, SMEs, climate action and strategic infrastructure across the EU.

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