|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
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
Presentation slides [pdf]
List of financing operations in 2011
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