The Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Andrew McDowell, has announced in Bucharest on Thursday evening that the European Investment Bank Group is tripling its support for Romanian companies, from EUR 500 million up to EUR 1.38 billion.
Following the successful implementation of the Initiative for SMEs in Romania (SMEi), the Romanian authorities allotted an additional EUR 150 million from the Regional Operational Programme, in co-financing with the European Fund for Regional Development, raising the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) budget within the initiative to EUR 250 M.
This increase, together with additional resources from the EIB Group and the European Commission, will result in a total amount of financing to Romanian SMEs available under SMEi Romania of up to EUR 1.38bn.
McDowell attended a ceremony of signing new contracts or of amending existing agreements meant to support SMEs and start-ups. The new contracts have been signed with CEC Bank, the Romanian Commercial Bank, BRD – Groupe Societe Generale, Libra Internet Bank, ProCredit Bank, Raiffeisen Bank and Unicredit Bank.
The initiative for SMEs combines the structural funds with other resources of the EU and the EIB in order to provide loans for 5,000 Romanian SMEs, prompting more jobs that the private sector badly needs.
“The SME Initiative is combining structural funds with other EU and EIB resources to make loans available to 5,000 Romanian SMEs on better terms, helping to create badly needed jobs in the private sector. This has already worked really well in the last year, which is why we are now more than doubling the size of the initiative,” EIB Vice-President Andrew McDowell commented.
The agreements are enabling access to financing for Romanian companies, through 60% guarantees for each loan and through the decreasing of the interest rates taken by the banks.
“Romania is among the few EU Member States that are implementing this initiative and we have duly turned it into a hallmark programme for our SMEs. More than 2,000 Romanian SMEs have benefited from this initiative, with almost EUR 500m committed in their support. Together with our partners, we aim to further build on this initiative in our drive to make SMEs the backbone of our economy,” Eugen Teodorovici, Minister of Public Finance and EIB Governor for Romania, stated in his turn.
Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration, Daniel Suciu, said: “With almost 2,000 Romanian small and medium-sized enterprises already benefiting from the SME Initiative, the top-up approved last year will further enable other SMEs to access loans at reduced interest rates and with lower collaterals, in order to boost their economic competitiveness. Besides an innovative use of European Structural and Investment Funds, more private capital will be attracted into the SME space as new financing markets and ecosystems are targeted through the increased resources available in Romania.”
Commenting on the programme increase, EIF Director Hubert Cottogni also pointed out that “Combining ESIF funds with EIB Group and EU resources is a great way to achieve more with less. It allows the EIF to take on part of the risk of financial intermediaries for the ultimate benefit of Romanian SMEs. The additional ESIF resources made available by Romania, leveraged with commercial lending, will generate up to EUR1.38bn worth of new loans for SMEs across Romania.”
“The SME Initiative is a perfect example of how Cohesion Policy funding used in an innovative way can multiply its effects on the ground. Romania was among the first Member States to join the SME Initiative and this has paid off. Thanks to the additional resources from the European Regional Development Fund, more and more SMEs and start-ups will be able to seize this opportunity and continue creating jobs, growth and prosperity for the country and its people,” Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Enlargement Negotiations and Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn added.