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Parliamentary questions
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6 July 2020
Answer given by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-001242/2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 emergency, besides mobilising all EU budget resources, t he Commission introduced a temporary state aid framework to allow Member States to support their citizens, their companies and their economies overcome this extraordinary exogenous shock.

As to funding of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for 2 out of 3 jobs in the EU, the European Central Bank(1), the European Banking Authority(2) and the European Securities and Markets Authority(3) have all issued guidelines clarifying that loans subject to a temporary moratorium in combination with guarantees would neither become automatically non-performing (NPLs), nor result in increased bank capital requirements.

In the same vein, the Commission has proposed to give on an exceptional and temporary basis a more favourable treatment to publicly guaranteed loans under the NPL prudential backstop and to bring forward several agreed measures incentivising banks to finance SMEs(4) (as well as employees, pensioners, infrastructure projects and investment in software).

The Commission also extended a EUR 1 billion guarantee to the European Investment Fund, which Italian banks can, for example, use to provide working capital loans to Italian SMEs.

It is estimated that this guarantee will unlock up to EUR 8 billion in working capital loans and liquidity to at least 100 000 SMEs and small mid-caps in Europe. The Commission has also proposed an unprecedented flexibility for the use of EU funds, including for supporting SMEs. This includes the possibility to apply 100% EU co-financing rate and flexibility to transfer resources between the cohesion policy funds, and between different regions.

The Commission’s proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework also has a clear focus on supporting SMEs, in particular through the new REACT-EU initiative (total budget of EUR 55 billion), which according to the Commission’s proposal will be operational already this year, and the expansion of the Just Transition Fund by EUR 32.5 billion to a total of EUR 40 billion.

Finally, the European Investment Bank has set up a Pan-European Guarantee Fund of EUR  25 billion, which could support EUR  200 billion of financing, with special focus on supporting SME recovery.

(1)See https://www.bankingsupervision.europa.eu/press/pr/date/2020/html/ssm.pr200312~43351ac3ac.en.html
(2)See https://eba.europa.eu/eba-statement-actions-mitigate-impact-covid-19-eu-banking-sector
(3)See https://www.esma.europa.eu/sites/default/files/library/esma32-63-951_statement_on_ifrs_9_implications_of_covid-19_related_support_measures.pdf
(4)COM(2020)169 .
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