“Resourcefulness, adaptability and cooperation were essential to come up with the right tools to address market needs.”
Chairman of the Board of Directors
"There can be no doubt that European businesses have experienced a particularly difficult year in 2020. Public institutions across the EU have been called upon to respond with determination and resolve, making effective interventions to support the markets. Together with the European Commission, the EIB and the EIF swiftly coordinated a package of measures for struggling European businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EUR 25bn Pan-European Guarantee Fund (EGF) was also promptly established, aiming to provide much-needed financial solutions for SMEs to address their capital requirements and to help them on their way to recovery. Resourcefulness, adaptability and cooperation were essential to come up with the right tools to address market needs.
In parallel, the EIF has not lost sight of its policy goals, supporting innovative entrepreneurs, micro-entrepreneurs, social enterprises and SMEs across the continent. At end 2020, delivering beyond its COP objectives, the EIF had committed EUR 12.9bn, which in turn is expected to generate EUR 66.8bn worth of financing for SMEs and small mid-caps. Such results could not have been achieved without the strong partnerships developed with our financial intermediaries on the ground, national promotional institutions, national and regional authorities, the European Commission and, of course, the EIB, with whom our close collaboration has continued, ranging from risk assessment work to climate action and the imminent capital increase. I am especially grateful to EIF colleagues who have risen to the challenge, showing flexibility and adaptability to ensure business continuity and deliver record volumes. This has also been a year in which we have welcomed four new shareholders that have joined the EIF’s financial institutions shareholders group: IFD – Instituição Financeira de Desenvolvimento from Portugal; Bürgschaftsbank Baden-Württemberg from Germany; Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Designated Activity Company; and Invest-NL from the Netherlands.
All these partnerships will constitute the building blocks for our work going forward. 2021 will be a special year, with increased intensity as we rollout the EGF and at the same time move into the new EU budgetary period, boosting our financial support to the European business ecosystem and contributing in a meaningful manner to the green and digital transitions. The EIB Group Climate Bank Roadmap in particular will constitute a top priority as we head into the next decade determined to address the environmental emergency."
“It was vital to respond effectively and immediately, to show our continuing support and readiness to mobilise financing in one of the most challenging economic times for SMEs."
Chief Executive’s message
“2020 has been a very particular year for the EIF. As COVID-19 spread uncertainty and insecurity across Europe, I am proud of the way that the EIF managed to remain focussed on delivering tangible support to European businesses. We committed more resources than ever before (26% more than last year), deployed a series of immediate COVID-19 support measures and continued to support SMEs in their efforts to remain competitive. It was vital to respond effectively and immediately, to show our continuing support and readiness to mobilise financing in one of the most challenging economic times for SMEs.
This year also saw the conclusion of our EFSI efforts. EFSI was a very ambitious undertaking and an example of successful collaboration across public and private institutions that delivered concrete results. It has enabled the EIF to deploy our support at a faster pace and in greater volumes, materialising in the form of EUR 232bn of expected mobilised investments for almost 1.5 million European SMEs. We will take forward the lessons learned from EFSI as we launch into the implementation of the Pan-European Guarantee Fund and InvestEU programme next year.
Adapting to the new norms of virtual communication, in a year of social distancing, lockdowns and travel restrictions, the EIF has continued to channel public and private resources into key sectors of the European economy like life sciences, agribusiness, digitalisation, microfinance, social impact, and emerging sectors like artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, blue economy and space. At the same time, we have sought to contribute to building up the financing ecosystems across different geographic areas, focussing on underserved segments and sectors of the economy, and working through existing partners but also new financial intermediaries to achieve our policy objectives.
Looking ahead, the EIF will be concentrating its activities around more thematic objectives with clear policy impact, reaffirming our support for EU priorities and adaptability to market needs.
As this testing year ends, I feel that, as an organisation, we have shown resilience, endurance and dedication. And we are emerging from these challenging times more determined than ever to play our part in providing tangible, effective financing solutions that will support Europe’s SMEs and entrepreneurs on the road to recovery."