The EESC calls on the authorities at all levels to engage in close cooperation with all the stakeholders with a view to drawing up a specific action plan on the future of European retail in the 21st century.
The EESC welcomes the Commission proposal but highlights the fact that it can only be one component of dedicated financial instruments for social businesses. The Committee reminds the Commission that some elements of the proposal have to be clarified in order to allow such funds to be successful, both for the financial community and for the final beneficiaries.
Impact assessments of any legislative proposals must be integrated and accorded due importance to the economic, social and environmental dimensions, including for SMEs. The Committee has called for the Parliament, the Council and the European Commission to agree on a common methodology on impact assessments and evaluations, which could also serve as a prompt for the Committee. It is extremely concerned by the findings on the shortcomings of social and environmental impact assessments and the follow-up to consultations. It calls on the Commission to be more transparent and to give fully documented reasons why a particular measure or proposal is or is not to be submitted for impact assessment and/or an ex-post analysis.
The EESC welcomes in principle the integration of five predecessor programmes (and of the European Statistical Programme, though that extends beyond the scope of the single market) and a number of budget headings into a single market programme, as it can be expected to produce synergies and improve cost efficiency. Due to steadily increasing volume of work in consumer protection policy EESC urges the Commission to further develop cooperation with consumer networks and organisations and to increase funding for consumer protection. It is also concerned that the negotiations on the EU financial framework could result in cuts and thus in a lower budget than in the past.
The revised SBA for Europe marks a decisive new stage in the political recognition of SMEs and above all of micro-enterprises. This EESC opinion recommends that the European institutions, Member States and the regions adopt it as the basis for their SMEs policies as well as for their economic and industrial policies. It insists on recognising the SBA's "Think Small First" principle when drafting legislation for SMEs. The EESC notes that the SBA will not succeed unless a genuine "multi-stakeholder and multilevel governance partnership" is established where economic and social partners and all representative public and private stakeholders are involved in political discussions concerning SMEs.
The EESC considers it vital to preserve the "biodiversity" of the financial system, without this meaning the arbitrary application of rules. In this context the Committee applauds the consideration the European Commission has given to the introduction of calibrated financial regulation frameworks to consider the specificities of cooperative and savings banks that avoid the undesirable effects of uniform application of prudential rules and possibly an overload of administrative burdens.
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.