The Irish Presidency has secured agreement with the European Parliament to improve access to finance for SMEs under the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) 2014 – 2020. The Programme proposes to allocate more than 2 billion Euros over the lifetime of the Programme to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of the EU’s SMEs.
Commenting on this agreement, Irish Minister Richard Bruton said, “Achieving agreement on these proposals with the Commission and the European Parliament was a key priority under the Irish Presidency. The only EU programme specifically designed to assist SMEs, COSME aims at improving access to finance and markets, promoting entrepreneurship and improving conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of EU SMEs. SMEs are the engines of growth and job creation in Europe, and achieving the agreement on COSME sends a strong positive signal to all European SMEs.”
The agreement, secured after more than five months of intensive negotiations under the Irish Presidency, provides for:
· Improved access to finance for SMEs in the form of equity and debt comprising over 60% of the total COSME budget, including:
· an equity facility for growth-phase investment will provide venture capital for SMEs through financial intermediaries
· a loan facility to provide SMEs with direct or other risk-sharing arrangements with financial intermediaries to cover loans
· Improved access to markets for SMEs, to facilitate business expansion inside the EU and globally through growth-oriented support services via the Enterprise Europe Network
· Measures to improve entrepreneurial skills and attitudes, especially among new entrepreneurs, young people and women
He concluded, “The Irish Presidency has been about stability, jobs and growth and I recognise the important part SMEs have to play in achieving these goals. That’s why in February, as Chair of the EU Competitiveness Council, I brought together the leading experts on SMEs in Dublin to draw up the best new ideas for SME support and job creation. It’s also the reason why Ireland achieved some valuable wins for SMEs since January such as agreement to reduce the auditing requirements for SMEs.”
Minister for Small Business, John Perry TD commented, “As Minister for Small Business and Ireland’s SME Envoy, I warmly welcome today’s agreement. We know that there are over 20 million SMEs in Europe, accounting for more than 98% of all enterprises. If we can just help each of the 23 million EU SMEs generate one additional job we will greatly help address the unemployment issue across Europe. That is why the COSME programme to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of the EU’s SMEs is so important. ”
The agreement will now be presented to Coreper for final endorsement by Member States.