The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
Investments and free flow of capital are essential for Europe's growth. However, the EU's capital markets are still underdeveloped and fragmented. Therefore, the European Commission adopted an Action plan on "Capital Markets Union" in 2015 aiming to create a true single market for capitals in Europe. The EESC calls for Europe to better mobilise capital and channel it to companies, infrastructures and sustainable projects that will create jobs and growth.
At its plenary session, the EESC has adopted an opinion on the European Commission Action plan that endorses its goals and advocates for an extension and diversification of the sources of funding, within a single capital market based on a maximum harmonisation of rules: it is of utmost importance that Member States introduce, apply and supervise the proposed measures of the Action plan in the same way.
Moreover, the EESC opinion introduces specific adjustments for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), as it has serious concerns about the relevance and effectiveness of the capital markets union for SMEs.
The specific situation of SMEs calls for an increased flexibility in choosing the appropriate funding channels. "The funding of SMEs, a driving-force for Europe's economy, should be at the heart of the future Capital Markets Union. There is currently an information deficit that needs to be tackled and a framework for lending that needs to be made more SME-friendly", said Daniel Mareels, EESC Rapporteur on the issue.
The Capital Markets also open up choices for investors - something which the EESC welcomes provided that there is adequate protection.
With this opinion, the EESC re-affirms its support to bank funding as a key component to finance the economy and advocates for new markets, including non-performing loans (loans in default or close to default) to be further explored.
Finally, regulation, supervisions and the role of the European Investment Bank, at stake in the Commission's Action plan, should be reinforced in order to narrow the substantial national differences and achieve harmonisation in the longer run. The EESC proposes to establish regular interim assessments where its expertise could be handily at use to assess the progress of the Capital Markets Union instruments and measures, as proposed in the Action Plan.