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Only Greece is worse than us for SME loans

IRELAND ranks second from the bottom in terms of lending conditions for small businesses, a Europe-wide survey has found.

The research from the European Union on competitiveness among the 27 member states found that only Greece had a worse climate for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) trying to get credit.

The EU has urged the Government to "keep a close eye on access to finance", saying: "Improvement in this area is crucial for future growth. The lack of domestic demand and lack of finance have lowered the level of investment in equipment, which remains under the EU average."

The report also found that it was nearly two-thirds more difficult for an SME to get credit at the end of 2011 than it was in 2009.