A "European Progress Microfinance Facility" is to make available (via private amd public bodies) "micro-credits" (up to €25,000) to people within the European Union who want loans to start or grow very small firms (10 people or less and a turnover of less than €2 million), but are unable to obtain them on conventional credit markets.
To ensure that the Facility can start promptly in early 2010, the European Parliament Plenary on December 15 agreed via a vote to release 25 million Euro from the EU's 2010 budget (the 210 EU budget which will be put to a vote on Thursday, with the EP's extra powers following the Lisbon Treaty's entry into force Dec. 1).
For the three remaining years, there is, for the moment, no agreement between Parliament and Council on the resources for the Facility. The MEPs agreed to make €100 million available for the Facility over four years - as proposed by the European Commission, but stressed during the debate that these funds do not have to come from the "Progress" programme, which was set up to help vulnerable groups of people. The Commission had proposed that the Microfinance Facility be funded from this programme, as it already had received an additional €114 million, at Parliament's request.
The Facility is to be open to public and private bodies in the Member States that provide micro-finance to persons and micro-enterprises. It is to make the €100 million available to them over 4 years through joint management arrangements with the EIB group (European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund).