FRANKFURT Nov 14 Small businesses in the euro
zone say it has become more difficult to get access to credit in
the past six months, with great differences in loan availability
across the region, the European Central Bank said on Thursday.
In a survey on access to finance of small- and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs), 12 percent of survey participants reported
that their loan applications had been rejected, compared with 11
percent in the previous survey, conducted six months earlier.
The ECB also said that financing conditions for small firms
varied greatly within the 17-country bloc, with half the smaller
businesses in Greece, Spain and Italy saying access to finance
was a "very pressing problem".
Germany was the only country where bank loan availability
improved in the April to September period form the previous six
"Euro area SMEs also reported a marginal deterioration in
the availability of bank loans," the report said, and added that
small firms in Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium said the
deterioration of bank loan availability was accelerating.
"The percentage of SMEs reporting access to finance as their
main problem remains broadly stable at 16 percent," it said.
It showed that only a third of Greek and Dutch firms, which
applied for a loan, received full approval, compared to
four-fifths of those in Germany and Finland.
The report also said that financing conditions were more
difficult for small companies than for large ones, and that
interest rates vary widely across the region and were rising in
Spain and Italy.
"Mainly SMEs in Spain and Italy contributed, on balance, to
the reported increase in bank lending rates, whereas SMEs in
Germany and France indicated on balance a decline," the survey
The survey of 8,305 euro zone firms was conducted between
Aug. 28 and Oct. 4.