Low credit offerings lead to low consumption levels, which in turn cause the economy to stagnate. That is the key problem of the current economic crisis. The EU needs to respond and reverse the trend, but one question remains: how?
On 6 June 2013, the Various Interests Group of the European Economic and Social Committee held a conference to suggest possible ways out of the current vicious circle that is preventing businesses from starting up, operating and growing, and consumers from saving money securely and productively.
Listening to the wide range of stakeholders, SMEs, consumers, households, alternative financial institutions, liberal professions, cooperatives and organisations for the protection of the common interest, the EESC emphasizes that they call for the same things: more transparency, more assistance from sectorial organisations with making the right investment choices, more education, new ways of interacting with financial institutions when asking for loans, new ways of obtaining credit and guarantees, new ways of investing money, while at the same time helping society to grow and preserving the environment.
Luca Jahier, President of the Various Interests Group, points out that "all these actors should be allies on a common platform, as ultimately they have a shared interest in a fairer and more secure credit system, geared to the main priorities of citizens, families and different forms of enterprise, such as liberal professions, SMEs and cooperatives, and in touch with everyday life and the real economy".
Stakeholders presented a number of best practices ranging from access to credit to restoring trust in financial markets and institutions: mutual guarantee funds, fiscal incentives, crowd financing, project bonds, personalisation of creditworthiness assessment, financial education and sustainable investment funds. These and the many other existing best practices developed at European, national and local level should be put together, capitalised and maximised.
Trust, stability, security, profitability and competitiveness, accompanied by regulations already being put in place at European level and the alternative measures examined today, are the essential elements needed to kick-start recovery. A strong alliance of families, businesses, consumers and different types of entrepreneurs can help us break the vicious circle.