Italian firms ‘could get German state loans’

Italian firms 'could get German state loans'
Wolfgang Schäuble (file photo).
Small business owners in Italy could soon be eligible for German government loans, as part of a plan by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to help support southern European economies hurt by the eurozone crisis.

If Schäuble's plan goes ahead, a credit scheme already planned for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Spain would be extended to cover Portugal and Italy, he was quoted as saying Sunday.

Under the Spain programme, which Schäuble recently presented to parliament, Germany's KfW public investment bank will offer €800 million  (about $1 billion) in loans to businesses via Spain's ICO bank. 

"I have told my Portuguese colleagues already: you can have all this too," Schäuble was quoted as telling weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

The report said Germany would extend the same offer to Italy.

Schäuble is set to meet the Italian and French finance and labour ministers in Rome on Friday.

The report said launching the programme for Greece would initially be more difficult because it lacked a similar development bank, although a partner institution could be set up.

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