Europe is embarking on a transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. European businesses can lead the way as we enter this new age, as they has done in the past.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are essential to Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity. Based on the new SME Strategy, the EU will support SMEs by:
- encouraging innovation through new funding and digital innovation hubs as part of the sustainable and digital transitions;
- cutting red tape by reducing barriers within the Single Market and opening up access to finance;
- allowing better access to finance by setting up an SME Initial Public Offering Fund (with investments channelled through a new private-public fund) and the ESCALAR initiative (a mechanism to boost the size of venture capital funds and attract more private investment).
The absence of economic and social convergence among Member States and regions is a threat to the political sustainability of the European project and all the benefits it has brought to European citizens. Developing economic and labour market resilience with economic, social, environmental and institutional sustainability should be the principle guiding policies. This will foster upwards convergence and fairness in the transition towards a climate-neutral economy while managing the challenges posed by digitalisation and demographic change.
This proposal for an amendment of the Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1588 aims to improve the interplay of the future EU funding programmes with State aid rules. It will enable the Commission to make targeted modifications of current State aid rules.
The European Union competition policy has been in place for over sixty years. This annual report on competition policy is a non-exhaustive summary of activities undertaken by the Commission in the field of competition policy over the year 2017.
Traditionally, the EESC in its opinion comments on the main achievements and suggests improvements.
The EESC supports the proposals that enhance the international competitiveness of SMEs, reduce cost, harmonise and simplify processes for registration, filing of company changes and conversions. It believes that guidance by the Commission to the Member States on transposition of the directives is useful.
Over recent years, there has been a shift in bargaining power in the food supply chain, mostly to the advantage of the retail sector and some transnational companies and to the detriment of suppliers, in particular primary producers. The concentration of bargaining power has led to the abuse of positions of dominance causing weaker operators to become increasingly vulnerable to Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). The opinion takes stock of the impact of UTPs, stresses the difficult position of the most vulnerable actors along the chain and calls for action at EU level to stop UTPs and promote a fairer food supply chain.