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News : EU Economy Last Updated: Feb 17, 2012 - 8:41 AM


European Investment Bank funding for SMEs hit record in 2011; Loans for Irish projects were at €475m - - at €2.5bn in 2007/2011
By Finfacts Team
Feb 17, 2012 - 8:35 AM

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EIB president Werner Hoyer speaking at a press conference, Brussels, Feb 16, 2012.

European Investment Bank funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reached a record level in 2011 as the EU's bank, which was founded in 1958, said it remained firmly focused on its mandate to support the real economy. Loans to Ireland amounted to 475m in 2011 and at €2.5bn in 2007/2011.

The Irish loans included funding to AIB and Bank of Ireland to provide loans for SMEs. ESB and University College Dublin projects were also funded. 

During 2011, the EIB  provided €13bn of finance for SMEs. Overall more than 120,000 SMEs received EIB  support across Europe last year. The bank said SMEs account for more than two thirds of private sector employment in Europe and grow more quickly than larger firms, making them an important source of new jobs. However, their size also makes them more vulnerable in times of crisis as they have more difficulty accessing finance in adverse economic circumstances. 

The funding provided in 2011 reflects the exceptional level of SME loan contracts the EIB concluded with partner banks in 2009/10 and the efforts made by the EIB and the European Investment Fund to reach micro enterprises, another important mechanism for getting people out of unemployment.

EIB president Werner Hoyer said at a press conference in Brussels on Thursday: “The EIB will continue to support both growth and job creation in €ope and beyond. Many countries are facing huge challenges and as the EU bank we are here to support them with financing of sound projects, combining EIB loans with EU grants and providing technical advice for preparation of projects. In short, the EIB is maintaining its support for the real economy with lending, blending of resources and advising.”

During 2011, the EIB signed €61bn of new loans in almost 70 countries. €54bn was provided for projects within the European Union and €7bn outside. The EIB managed to extend its highest-ever financial contribution to the real economy by disbursing €60bn.

Support for projects that reduce carbon emissions rose to 30% of total lending, providing €18bn for climate action. This included €5.5bn for renewable energy investment, €1.3bn for energy efficiency and €8bn for sustainable transport.

Lending outside the EU exceeded €7bn, with half dedicated to pre-accession countries. The EIB plays an important role in the Deauville Partnership launched in May by the G-8 to support democratic and economic transition following the Arab spring. Loans worth almost €1bn were signed in 2011 for private sector development and the acceleration of infrastructure projects in the region. Signatures in the EU’s Eastern neighbours reached a record €800 million.

Under the bank’s strategy to maintain its financial strength through a gradual return to pre-2008 lending levels, lending for new operations in 2012 is planned to decrease to €50bn.

The EIB said in line with the informal European Council conclusions of 30 January, the bank’s main priority for 2012 will remain supporting sustainable EU growth and jobs. The focus of EIB financing outside the EU will be on pre-accession countries and the EU’s Eastern and Southern countries.

Presentation slides [pdf]

List of financing operations in 2011

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