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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
News article25 November 2021Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

New survey on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE) highlights positive outlook for availability of funding but raises concerns on financing costs

The survey shows how SME financing conditions have recovered after the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and provides key insights into the concerns of SMEs in 2021.

SAFE results reflect the opinions of SMEs, based on their experiences over the last six months. SMEs answered questions on the importance of issues affecting access to finance, such as uses and relevant sources of funding, application and outcomes, needs and availability, as well as purpose and expectations.

This year, the findings show:

  • SMEs’ outlook is improving on most key variables affecting their financial health and operational ratios (e.g. number of employees, turnover, access to finance)
  • a larger net percentage of SMEs in the EU perceived an improvement in banks’ willingness to provide credit. Nevertheless, this metric has not returned to pre-Covid levels
  • Businesses continued to see public financial support as a factor contributing to their access to finance, with an increasing percentage of micro and small firms holding this view
  • SMEs have perceived slightly higher costs of borrowing and for financing their activities

SAFE 2021 was carried out in cooperation with the European Central Bank. It samples the perceptions of over 16,000 micro, small, medium-sized and large firms based on their experiences over the last six months (April to September 2021). The geographical scope covers the EU, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

More information

Visit the SAFE webpage for more, including the results for each EU country and for different groups of enterprises, as well as an analytical report with detailed analysis.