This paper maps the initiatives to support access to finance for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that were available at national level in 2012 in the five biggest European economies (Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain). This mapping distinguishes initiatives promoted and financed primarily through public resources from those developed independently by the market. A second breakdown is proposed for those sources of finance with different targets, i.e. whether the target is debt financing (typically bank loans at favourable conditions, public guarantees on loans, etc.) or equity financing (typically venture capital funds, tax incentives on equity investments, etc.).
A broad set of initiatives has been implemented to close the funding gap of SMEs in these five countries. The total amount of public spending for SMEs, however, has remained well below 1% of GDP. Public subsidisation of bank loans has been by far the most diffused type of intervention. Despite the fact that this strategy might prove to be effective in the short term, it fails to address long-term sustainability issues via a more diversified set of financing tools.
Federico Infelise is Research Assistant at the European Capital Markets Institute (ECMI) and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).