The board of the European Investment Bank, comprising directors from 28 EU member states and the European Commission, approved significant new support for stimulating investment by SME and mid-cap companies (up to 3000 employees). The board also agreed new initiatives for tackling youth unemployment and providing trade finance for export focused European companies in programme countries.
The President of the EIB, Werner Hoyer, commented: “The European Investment Bank is committed to delivering significantly increased lending for SME’s and investment crucial for economic growth as agreed at the European Council three weeks ago. The EIB is also enabling enhanced investment to improve skills and increase jobs by businesses across Europe to fight youth unemployment.” In addition the President stated: “As the EU Bank, we welcome the strong support shown by our shareholders to allow the EIB to make an exceptional contribution to help small businesses and fully support the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative.”
The board approved a significant increase of the lending target for SMEs during 2013, up from the originally planned EUR 14.1 billion to EUR 17 billion. This brings the overall EIB Group support close to EUR 20 billion, with the European Investment Fund focussing on venture capital, guarantees and microfinance. The board also approved EIB loans totalling EUR 3.8 billion for lending to small and medium sized businesses and mid-cap companies across the EU. This will bring total EIB support for European SMEs and mid-caps approved so far in 2013 up to some EUR 9.4 billion compared to EUR 6.4 billion in the same period last year.
Furthermore the board approved projects in the other priority sectors, totalling around EUR 7 billion, including innovation, energy projects and strategic health and transport infrastructure.
The bank’s board agreed that the European Investment Bank will lend EUR 6 billion to support investment in skills and new jobs. President Hoyer emphasised that: “The ´Jobs for Youth´ funds will be available already in August. This is six months earlier than the EU funds and will allow Member State to bring forward the start of their national or regional programmes – demonstrating the strong complementarity between EU, Member State and EIB actions.”
The EIB’s dedicated youth employment programme “Jobs for Youth - Investing in Skills” will counteract the rapid increase in youth unemployment in Europe. The programme has two key elements. “Jobs for Youth” will provide SMEs with better access to finance and link EIB financing to the employment of young people in SMEs. “Investing in Skills” will support job-related skills and on-the-job-training by investing in education and research facilities, as well as vocational training, student loans and mobility programmes.
The board also agreed to use trade finance instruments for SMEs and mid-cap companies in all EU programme countries. Currently, the EIB employs trade finance only in Greece. Lack of access to trade finance is seen as a key factor as hindering export driven growth.