The EESC welcomes and supports the Commission's initiative to anticipate the review of the Regulations on European venture capital funds (EuVECA) and European social entrepreneurship funds (EuSEF). The EESC believes that such a regulation can promote the establishment of a capital markets union. The EESC suggests that in order to expand participation in such investment funds, the hitherto very restrictive access criteria, as well as other restrictive conditions, to be significantly relaxed; the Committee proposes to increase the involvement of non-institutional investors and considers it equally important to create an environment in which the financing objectives of social investment funds can develop.
Research and Innovation - Related Opinions
The EESC encourages the Commission to pursue its efforts to develop policy proposals aimed at promoting the creation of innovative and high growth firms. These policy proposals should strengthen the single market, reinforce the clusters and ecosystems in which innovative start-ups are created, develop the equity component of the European capital markets, encourage an academic agenda focusing on jobs for the future and minimise the cost and red tape involved in starting a new entrepreneurial venture.
While welcoming the existence of the Horizon 2020 program, the EESC is worried that funding for research into Societal Challenges has been significantly reduced. Moreover, the EESC is exceedingly concerned about the large disparities between Member States in terms of national funding for research and innovation.
Europe is facing complex challenges calling for renewed social and economic models. To deliver progress, growth and wellbeing in Europe, a shift towards an innovation-based economy is needed. The EESC therefore calls on the European Commission to develop a policy framework to support these new business models emerging. The EESC calls on the Commission in the upcoming review of the Single Market strategy, due in 2017, to fully incorporate these new business models, and suggest new measures in this direction. It is crucial that Member States and the European Institutions fully recognise and promote "fairer" business models, which are centred on delivering innovation for social development by integrating social impact measurement in parallel to reporting economic progress.
The EESC reiterates its firm commitment to an Energy Union and a European energy dialogue. It supports optimal implementation of the SET Plan, which can be achieved through a joint, consistent approach involving the cooperation of energy policy stakeholders, cooperation between States, an efficient internal energy market and the consolidation and better coordination of energy research and innovation programmes. The added value of the SET Plan will derive from better coordination and a new system of governance for the European energy system. The most important task is the technical and scientific development of technologies and innovation, and the promotion of factors that encourage new ideas and concepts.
Following the Baltic, Danube and Adriatic Ionian Regions, the Alpine space was the fourth to adopt its macro-regional strategy on 28 July 2015. The EESC welcomes the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region and sees it as an element of value added for the Alpine area as well as a driver for development that can nurture the competitiveness and cohesion of Europe as a whole.
The Economy for the Common Good model proposes the transition towards a "European Ethical Market" which will foster social innovation, boost the employment rate and benefit the environment, for example through using indicators of wellbeing and social development beyond the GDP such as the Common Good Product and the Common Good Balance Sheet. The EESC considers that the Economy for the Common Good model is conceived to be included both in the European and the domestic legal framework and demands from the European Commission, in the framework of the upcoming renewed CSR strategy, to make a qualitative step in order to reward (in terms of public procurement, access to external markets, tax advantages, etc.) those enterprises that can demonstrate higher ethical performance.
3D printing, in combination with the internet, robotics and open-source software, will result in a new industrial revolution with profound implications over the coming years for national economies, business models and education.
3D manufacturing – better known as 3D printing – is a process that uses digital "blueprints" to produce three-dimensional products and parts. It is also referred to as "additive manufacturing". A wide variety of materials are commonly used in this process: bioplastics, gypsum, gold, etc. Particular attention should be paid here to the origin of products. There are unprecedented opportunities in this field for businesses.