Hahn claimed the cash would be worth at least €2bn when leveraged alongside money from other regional investors such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Speaking at a business forum arranged as part of the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit, Hahn said: “The commission will provide €200 million in the next two years which will unlock more than €2 billlion... this €200mn will mainly be used to offer loans, things like that in order to trigger bigger investments.”
“I'm not overestimating the leverage,” Hahn said, “More than 90% of the money will be used to guarantee loans and things like that... for SMEs via primarily our main partners for such efforts the EBRD and EIB.”
He cited the examples of a Georgian food processing company, a Moldovan wine producer and Ukrainian water treatment company Ecosoft as examples of companies that had benefited from similar backing in the past.
“It's really about very concrete assistance, very concrete support,” Hahn said, insisting the cash would be given out purely on merit with no allocations agreed in advance.
“It's merit based, about very concrete projects and certainly there's also competition between the countries and financial institutions. It depends on the quality of the projects... it's not that a certain percentage is frontloaded to the individual countries.”
Nevertheless, his announcement did not meet with the acclaim that perhaps could have been expected.
Journalists from Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine have been peppering him with questions about the progress of visa free deals and other things along the road to full EU membership – a subject which officials are generally countering by saying individual benchmarks need to be met one at a time.
A later release by the European Commission said the €200mn would actually be spread over 10 years.