BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union aims to start lending funds to small and medium-sized companies as soon as May under a 315-billion-euro ($359 billion) investment plan meant to kick-start economic growth.

The European Investment Bank gave the green light Tuesday to provide early financing for projects developed by companies with fewer than 3,000 employees.

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said that "the tentative timetable would be to do this as early as May."

The EU aims to finish legislation on the full investment fund in July and officially launch it in September.

The fund would reduce the risks of investment for private investors and encourage them to spend on strategic projects like broadband Internet or energy networks.