Fabian Demicoli

SME Finance: Commission urged to follow Parliament resolution

GRTU warmly welcomed the resolution on the next generation of SME finance programmes adopted by a large majority at the European Parliament (EP). We feel the document sums up very well the main challenges facing European SMEs when it comes to access to finance and provides a comprehensive set of possible measures to improve the status quo. The organisation particularly appreciated the resolution's calls for tailored measures adapted to the reality of SMEs, which are very heterogeneous and go from traditional and family-run businesses to high-tech and fast growing companies. It also backed the need to address market failures, to create better and more complete funding programmes and to remove administrative barriers that limit the uptake of the existing schemes.

 

The Parliament made it clear that there is no „one-size-fits-all‟ answer to their needs, and that each of them requires tailored interventions that respect this diversity. It also stressed that market failures must be addressed and red tape linked to SME finance programmes must be reduced, two points that we have also put forward quite vocally and frequently.

Traditional and family-run businesses depending on loan financing must be supported mainly via guarantees. The existing guarantee instruments have proved their worth, but administrative procedures must be simplified and the use of structural funds in this respect should be made easier, also according to the Parliament's resolution. On the other hand, small businesses working on riskier projects such as innovation, start-ups and business transfers will require "mezzanine finance" instruments capable of carrying a higher degree of risk. Unfortunately, these instruments are not yet provided to a sufficient degree by the market – that is why the Parliament's resolution calls for more attention to "mezzanine finance" in the next generation of programmes. Moreover, the text stresses that high-tech and fast growing companies will not develop without a functioning market for venture capital, equity and bonds.

The Parliament's resolution is also very clear on the need to strengthen and improve functioning SME finance schemes, calling for instance for more funding for the "CIP" programme and for innovative financial instruments. Furthermore, it places a clear emphasis on the necessity to reduce administrative barriers, which often trigger excessive expenses in time and money for small companies compared to the benefits of the relatively small amounts that they receive.

The resolution approved by MEPs today provides a solid action path for the next months and years. We are thankful to all members of the European Parliament, in particular to those belonging to the SME Intergroup for the preparatory work. It is now up to the European Commission to take over responsibility and to ensure that these recommendations are fully taken on board.

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