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.
The event focused on analyzing the information barriers that SMEs face when searching for funds, especially in the case of bank loans, on possible solutions and on support and advisory structures.
The key issues discussed were related to:
Strengthening the feedback given by banks when turning down credit applications from SMEs, in order to allow rejected SMEs to adjust their business model to have better access to external funding;
Mapping local or national support and advisory structures across the EU to promote best practices in assisting SMEs;
Investigating how to develop or support pan-European information systems that link up national systems to bring finance-seeking SMEs together with finance providers.
The main conclusion of the event was that the Capital Markets Union should aim at diversifying sources of funding for SMEs. Information barriers and lack of information negatively affect SMEs´ access to finance. To tackle this, two strategies are generally possible: public sector driven or market driven strategies. The debate also focused on whether it would be more beneficial to have mandatory or voluntary information-sharing requirements, reaching the conclusion that in any case it is strongly recommended that the information obligations should be placed on several different actors.
There are 3 main pillars to be used when designing strategies for removing information barriers:
Market building measures;
Greater emphasis on policies of information sharing;
Market correcting strategies to dovetail market building.
The event was held on Wednesday, 8 February from 13:00-14:30 at the CEPS premises, 1 Place du Congres, 1000 Brussels.