European SMEs still struggling to get finance

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the European Union (EU) are still struggling to secure the financing they need, according to a survey carried out by the European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

The joint EU-ECB Access to Finance survey spoke to 15,000 SMEs across 37 countries about their access to finance in 2013.

A third of firms said they had been unable to secure the full financing they were looking for this year and 15 per cent said access to finance was a significant business problem.

Other headline figures from the survey include:

  • seven per cent of SMEs were discouraged from making a loan application because they assumed it would be rejected
  • micro companies employing fewer than 10 people and SMEs in business for less than two years were most likely to be denied a bank loan
  • 85 per cent of loans in the past two years were provided by banks
  • only five per cent of SMEs used equity finance from April to September 2013
  • 40 per cent of SMEs in Cyprus saw access to finance as their most pressing problem, compared with just eight per cent in Germany.

Antonio Tajani, the EC's vice-president, said that since the financial crisis of 2008, "evidence has consistently shown that SMEs face large and disproportionate obstacles to accessing the finance they need to survive and thrive."

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