The European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund have said an unprecedented amount of money has gone into supporting small and medium-sized companies across the EU in the past 12 months.
European Investment Bank (EIB) President Werner Hoyer said in Brussels on Tuesday the EIB Group consisting of the lender and the European Investment Fund (EIF) made a large contribution last year toward creating jobs and growth in the bloc.
He said the boost came through large-scale financial support of projects by and investments in SMEs, key infrastructure, innovation and the environment.
"At a time of uncertainty, the EIB Group has shown that a truly European approach to investment is bearing fruit," Hoyer said in a statement.
'Backbone of the economy'
He reported record financing in 2016 of more than 33 billion euros ($35.4 billion) for Europe's small and medium-sized enterprises, saying the group supported some 300,000 companies across the 28-member bloc.
"SMEs are the ones that create jobs, their capacity for innovation and flexibility makes them crucial for Europe's competitiveness and for the well-being of its citizens," Hoyer said.
He also mentioned that in 2016 close to 20 billion euros went to infrastructure projects, while another 17 billion euros were earmarked for environmental schemes.
hg/jd (dpa, EIB)