The EESC strongly endorses the Commission's initiative to extend the duration and increase the financing of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and welcomes the positive results of the first year and considers the SME "investment window" a success. The Committee recommend that EFSI 2.0 should aim for ever greater involvement of private capital; stresses the importance of keeping a market-driven emphasis, reinforcing the additionality of the EFSI and calls for a more balanced geographically coverage across the EU. The EESC also recommends bolstering the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) and the reinforcement of the social dimension of EFSI deployment. It is also in favour of using the EFSI to nurture the development of a shared industrial and dual technology base in the European defence sector. Finally, in the view of the Committee it is important to raise the visibility of EFSI funding.
The extension of the duration of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI 2.0) - Related Opinions
As the recovery of Europe's economies remains sluggish and fragile and the level of investment remains low, it should be a matter of priority to deploy every possible means to achieve a robust and stable economy. The Committee therefore endorses the goals of the action plan i.e. to mobilise capital in Europe and channel it to all companies, infrastructure and long-term projects. The Committee has serious concerns, however, regarding the relevance and effectiveness of the capital markets union for SMEs. They must be able to choose the funding channels that suit them best. At the same time the EU's economic and financial stability should be one of the priorities of the capital markets union. There should thus be more simplification, transparency and comparability of financial instruments.
The EESC welcomes the Investment Plan for Europe as a step in the right direction, which however faces serious questions about the Plan's size and timescale, the high degree of leverage expected and the potential flow of suitable projects. The Plan proposes that contributions to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) from Member States will not be included in budget deficit calculations and this is to be welcomed, but it begs the question as to why ongoing strategic public infrastructure expenditures are not treated in the same way. Strategic public investment which underpins present and future economic development should be incentivised by a more benign European fiscal framework.
The EESC welcomes initiatives to foster productive investment and the formation of long-lived tangible and intangible capital but urges the Commission to give greater attention to the need to finance more "socially useful" capital investment. If banks are likely to play a less prominent role in the future as providers of long-term financing, then opportunities may arise for other intermediaries such as national and multilateral development banks, institutional investors, sovereign funds and, crucially, bond markets. The EESC welcomes the recent recapitalisation of the EIB as this will strengthen its ability to leverage additional private investment finance and to play a stronger countercyclical role in investment funding and credit supply to SMEs..
The international economic and financial crisis exposed the structural limitations and contradictions in EMU, depriving the euro of its propensity to attract. The EESC believes that the single currency will be unsustainable unless we achieve convergence between the economic capacities of the euro area countries and improve overall competitiveness, objectives which require economic as well as political commitment. The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance stresses stability without proposing joint financial instruments for recovery and employment. Europe needs to go back to generating wealth in order to redistribute it fairly. Briefly, these are the EESC's four recommendations for completing the euro framework, i.e.
The EESC welcomes the Commission communication, which may prove a historic turning point provided that the Council finally musters the courage and the will necessary to adopt and put into effect the provisions that will help to achieve the stated objectives swiftly. Therefore, to achieve a genuine EMU, the EESC believes it necessary in the immediate term (without amending the Treaty) to: launch a European growth initiative; introduce a convergence instrument to help overcome the economic asymmetries between countries; implement a solution to the debt issue; rapidly implement banking union; complete the single market in all sectors; reduce the fragmentation of the credit market.
..."Meanwhile, the financial and economic crisis has changed into a sovereign debt crisis because of the daily speculation against the euro, which has shifted its focus and targeted the debt of a number of European countries. The only reason for this is that the economic and political instruments to protect the euro are piecemeal, totally inadequate and, until a year ago, downright non-existent. These are the paradoxes that come from having a single monetary policy and 17 debt policies, 17 budget policies, 17 (or rather 27) economic and industrial policies, and so many voices, often contradictory, having their say and offering recipes for resolving the crisis. This is why there must be a commitment to redouble and continue the efforts made recently by the EU. It is useful, therefore, to draw up a few proposals, ..."