Survey on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE)

Results Survey description and methodological information

Description of the survey

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are of high importance in the euro area corporate sector. They account for 99.8% of the number of firms in the euro area, 60% of turnover and 70% of employment. At the same time, 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 bank financing.

An investigation both by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (EC) showed that comparable, timely, and frequent data do not exist for SMEs in the European Union. To fill this gap, the EC and the ECB decided in 2008 to collaborate on a survey on the access to finance of enterprises in the European Union.

The survey covers micro, small, medium-sized and large firms and it provides evidence on the financing conditions faced by SMEs compared with those of large firms during the past six months. In addition to a breakdown into firm size classes, it provides evidence across branches of economic activity, euro area countries, firm age, financial autonomy of the firms, and ownership of the firms. The first wave of the survey was held in June-July 2009.

Part of the survey is run by the ECB every six months to assess the latest developments of the financing conditions of firms in the euro area. The more comprehensive survey has been run every year since 2013 (previously every two years) in cooperation with the European Commission.

Questionnaire Access to microdata

Access to microdata

To request the anonymised microdata, please send the confidentiality declaration form to the survey access team via email.

confidentiality declaration form
SAFE access team

Upon authorisation by the ECB, the returned form needs to be printed, signed, and submitted by post to:

Survey on the Access to Finance - Statistics Development/Coordination
European Central Bank
60640 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Survey respondents

Survey respondents

Twice a year, usually in March and October, thousands of businesses in Europe are contacted and asked about their ease of access to finance and about financing conditions.

Panteia, a policy research company, in cooperation with GDCC, an independent market research firm, have been selected to carry out this important survey on behalf of the ECB and the European Commission. The interviews are conducted over a four-week period mainly by telephone, but 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 write to or to the company conducting the interviews via