Answer to Written Question: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the brink of failure in Greece
(Source: European Parliament)
Answer given by Mr Gentiloni
on behalf of the European Commission
In March 2020, the Commission activated the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact. It allows a temporary departure from the budgetary requirements provided this does not endanger fiscal sustainability. Under these arrangements, Greece adopted an unprecedented amount of measures to support business liquidity, the non-accumulation of debts and facilitate the repayment of tax and non-tax liabilities. Under the recently adopted Bridge II programme, eligible professionals, businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to receive a state subsidy with respect to their business loans. Part of these measures is financed by EU structural funds and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.
The SME window under the InvestEU programme can provide targeted support. The European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) supports Member States’ short-time work schemes and measures to protect employees and self-employed. The Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan, under NextGenerationEU, also proposes support to the business sector, including SMEs, with financing that could be provided by international financial institutions and commercial banks.
Banks should continue to be part of the solution. The Commission and bank regulators and supervisors have provided banks with the necessary flexibility to continue accompanying their SME clients. The Commission is assessing what further actions can be taken to enable the financial sector to support viable businesses.
The Directive on Restructuring and Insolvency contains measures helping business and entrepreneurs in financial distress. Member States have to set up early warning mechanisms, which flag to SMEs the need to act and provide them advice on how to overcome difficulties.
 For the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative see: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/newsroom/coronavirus-response/
 Council Regulation (EU) 2020/672 of 19 May 2020 on the establishment of a European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) following the COVID-19 outbreak, OJ L 159, 20.5.2020, p. 1 (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32020R0672&from=en).
 Directive (EU) 2019/1023 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on preventive restructuring frameworks, on discharge of debt and disqualifications, and on measures to increase the efficiency of procedures concerning restructuring, insolvency and discharge of debt, and amending Directive (EU) 2017/1132, OJ L 172, 26.6.2019, p. 18–55. It will be transposed in Greece by 17 July 2021.