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The EESC welcomes the establishment of broad economic policy guidelines for the countries of the euro area and supports the formulation of recommendations tailored to each country as well as measures to assess their implementation. However, the Committee regards the current macroeconomic policy mix as unbalanced and calls for a new growth model which takes into account the significance of demand and distributive justice. Stricter regulation of financial markets should be accompanied by a general re-think not only of expenditure, but also of tax systems. Policies should capitalise more on the fact that the negative income and employment multipliers of revenue-related measures are generally more limited than those of spending cuts. The importance for competitiveness of non–price factors is often overlooked.
Secure, efficient, competitive and innovative electronic payments are crucial for the Internal Market in all products and services, and this has an increasing impact as the world moves beyond bricks-and-mortar trade towards e-commerce. The two Commission proposals on card-based payment transactions will introduce maximum levels of interchange fees for transactions based on consumer debit and credit cards. The EESC wants to lower the caps for both credit and debit electronic payments, and include at the same level commercial cards. The proposal strengthens consumer rights concerning international money transfers and will also promote the emergence of new players and the development of innovative mobile and internet payment systems.
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 introduction of further risk sharing is to be accompanied by further risk reduction in the Banking Union. Both the EDIS and the relevant risk reduction measures have to be dealt with in parallel and without delay and actually put into effect. An EDIS will have a positive impact on the situation of individual Member States and banks by being more able to cushion local shocks. This may discourage speculation against specific countries or banks, thus reducing the risk of bank runs. At the same time it will further weaken the link between the banks and their national sovereigns. It is imperative that the existing legislative framework of the Banking Union is fully implemented by all Member States. It is important that the Commission carry out a comprehensive in-depth impact study in order to further strengthen the legitimacy of the proposal.
The EESC is fully supportive of the revised directive and it finds much in the regulation which it can support. The EESC has a major concern about the applicability of the regulation to SMEs and it recommends that the more radical proposals be revised.
The EESC expresses its firm support for the structural reform of the banking system. It considers the Commission's proposal for a regulation to be a valid and effective response aimed at separating commercial banking activities from investment activities.
The EESC supports and encourages a broad agreement to boost the economy and restore trust in the financial institutions, and calls on the Commission to promote a European Social Pact for Sustainable Finance.
Nevertheless, the EESC believes that the Commission should give greater attention to investors and employees, who have hitherto received little attention in the reform.
Besides, the EESC recommends that oversight activities be carried out in close cooperation and coordination between the EBA and the national authorities, which are well-acquainted with the markets and which will play a key role in managing the new reformed European finance.
This opinion is part of a wider package of four EESC opinions on the future of the European economy (Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and Euro area economic policy, Capital Markets Union and The future of EU finances). The package of opinions underscores the need for a common sense of purpose in the Union governance, which goes far beyond technical approaches and measures, and is first and foremost a matter of political will and a common perspective. For this reason, the EESC considers it essential to have a balanced mix of euro area economic policies, with their monetary, fiscal and structural components properly interlinked. The Committee notes the improving economic situation in the euro area and recommends that, in order to maintain and bolster this, crucial steps be taken to stimulate investment and carry out reforms, while also strengthening the social and democratic dimensions of euro area governance.