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Survey on the access to finance of enterprises

April - September
Economic activity

The increase in turnover reported by euro area SMEs remained broadly stable at robust levels but, for the first time since mid-2016, they reported a deterioration in profits.

Main concerns

Availability of skilled labour and difficulties in finding customers continued to be the dominant concerns for euro area SMEs.

Financing conditions

Availability of external sources of finance for SMEs continued to improve, with some signals of declining bank interest rates.

About the survey

The survey on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE) provides information on the latest developments in the financial situation of enterprises, and documents trends in the need for and availability of external financing. The survey results are broken down by firm size, branch of economic activity, country, firm age, financial autonomy and ownership.

The survey is conducted twice a year: once by the ECB covering euro area countries (see results below) and once in cooperation with the European Commission covering all EU countries plus some neighbouring countries.

Survey on the access to finance of enterprises
Why and how we carry out the survey

The majority of firms in the euro area are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These enterprises account for a major share of euro area turnover and employment.

SMEs are not just “scaled-down” versions of large businesses: it is likely that the monetary policy transmission mechanism is different for SMEs compared with large firms because of SMEs’ higher dependence on financing from banks. The results of this survey are therefore useful to the ECB in its decision-making.

The survey on access to finance of enterprises (SAFE) provides information on the financing conditions faced by SMEs compared with those of large firms during the past six months, in particular regarding:

  • financial situation, growth, innovation and need for external financing
  • use of internal and external funds
  • experience with applications for external financing
  • use of loans, loan size and the reasons for accessing specific loans
  • views on how accessible different types of available financing are
  • expectations on future financing.

Methodological information

Report on and data from the joint European Commission & ECB surveys

As of 2013, the data and report from the joint survey are published every year (previously every two years), covering all EU Member States and a few other countries.

Data for the euro area enterprises

Access to microdata

If you would like to access the anonymised microdata, please fill in and return the confidentiality declaration form to the survey access team via email.

Confidentiality declaration form
SAFE access team

The SAFE team will then let you know if your request has been authorised and ask you to print the form, sign it, and submit it by post to:

Survey on the access to finance - Monetary & Economic Statistics Division
European Central Bank
60640 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Survey respondents

Twice a year, usually in March and October, we contact thousands of businesses in Europe to ask what financing conditions they are experiencing and how easily they can access finance.

Panteia, a policy research company, in cooperation with GDCC (Global Data Collection Company), an independent market research firm, carries out this survey on behalf of the ECB and the European Commission. The interviews are conducted over a five-week period mainly by telephone, though respondents can also complete an online questionnaire.

You may have been contacted as a potential respondent. If so, we would greatly appreciate your participation. If you have any questions about the survey, please email us at [email protected].

Official letters from the ECB and European Commission to the SAFE respondents
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