The EIB has been financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since 1968. The €30 billion fund dedicated specifically to small firms over the period 2008-11 was created on 23 September 2008, when the EIB decided to reform its SME lending facilities. As well as earmarking this increased amount of potential lending available, the EIB also simplified and modernised its lending aimed at small firms. EIB loans will continue to reach them through on-lending by national commercial banking intermediaries.
On 30 October 2008 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that, based on the UK's shareholding in the European Investment Bank (EIB), British small businesses should be able to benefit from around £4 billion of lending from the EIB between 2008 and 2011.
In the 2008 Pre-Budget Report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out that, as a first step, following negotiations between UK banks and the EIB, £1 billion of EIB funds will be available to British small firms by the end of 2008.