The effect of the current financial and economic crisis has put energy pricing under the spotlight because of the impact on household energy costs in the context of austerity and on industrial competitiveness of high energy prices. The importance of Market Based Instruments (MBI) is that they must both advance the transition to a resource-efficient and low carbon economy and support economic recovery. Environmental and climate policies should not be seen as a burden in the recovery from the fiscal and economic and social crisis, but rather as a part of the solution. The Committee urges the Commission to make environmental fiscal reform an integral and permanent part of the European Semester.
The EESC wants the conditions be created for an efficient, modern financial services sector with appropriate regulations, which grants access to capital providers by companies seeking investment, especially SMEs and high growth companies, and finds it of utmost importance to overcome the current fragmentation of the markets.
Since a Capital Markets Union (CMU) is to a significant extent a reality for large companies, the EESC stresses the need for measures that will also allow SMEs to benefit from it, for example through accepting simplified standardised criteria for registration on regulated markets, and providing a definition of an emerging growth and high growth company and devoting special attention to the needs of such companies on the capital market.
The EESC welcomes initiatives to foster productive investment and the formation of long-lived tangible and intangible capital but urges the Commission to give greater attention to the need to finance more "socially useful" capital investment. If banks are likely to play a less prominent role in the future as providers of long-term financing, then opportunities may arise for other intermediaries such as national and multilateral development banks, institutional investors, sovereign funds and, crucially, bond markets. The EESC welcomes the recent recapitalisation of the EIB as this will strengthen its ability to leverage additional private investment finance and to play a stronger countercyclical role in investment funding and credit supply to SMEs..
A genuine stabilisation of the economic and monetary union (EMU) can only succeed if the deficits in the EMU architecture are solved and to this end major reforms are undertaken. The longer the current austerity policy continues, that primarily looks at spending cuts without the addition of an effective investment plan and measures to enhance income through growth, social cohesion and solidarity, it will become increasingly clear that Europe's economic integration and prosperity is at risk from growing social inequalities. The EESC calls for greater "parliamentarisation" of the euro area, with a grand EP committee comprising all members of parliament from the euro area and from those countries wishing to join (26 Member States), combined with stronger coordination of members of parliament from the euro area on EMU issues (COSAC +).
The EESC welcomes the establishment of economic priority programmes for the euro area at the start of the European Semester. To achieve a recovery of growth and employment a mix of financial, taxation, budgetary, economic and social policies is needed. In contrast to the recommendation of the Commission, the focus of fiscal policy should be designed to be more expansionist than neutral. The EESC advocates the reduction of taxation on labour insofar as it does not threaten the financial sustainability of social protection systems. The EESC calls for a coordinated effort to create a more business-friendly environment for SMEs through better regulation, adequate financing and facilitation of exports to markets outside the EU. There is a particular need to open up new funding opportunities for micro-enterprises and start-ups.