European Union to aid small businesses

Design consultancies could benefit from a European Union proposal to put in action a 850m financial aid package for small businesses.

The package, announced in Brussels last week by EU finance commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy, is based on a loans guarantee system aimed at helping small businesses get credit at lower rates of borrowing over the next two years.

The initiative is aimed at creating some 30 000 jobs a year.

Priority will be given to companies with fewer than 50 employees – ideal for the design industry. Only investment projects which generate new employment will benefit from the scheme.

The initiative has yet to be approved by the council of ministers – at an as yet unscheduled meeting of finance ministers from EU member countries – but commentators believe that ministers are likely to approve the scheme since it falls within the existing budgets for 1996.

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