The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
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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.
Opinion on EFSI 2.0 recommends involvement of private capital
Last week the Council of Ministers decided to extend the European fund for strategic investments (EFSI 2.0), with an additional half a trillion euros of investments by 2020. The EESC Plenary today called for its immediate implementation, a geographically balanced coverage across the EU and ensuring the involvement of private capital.
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has demonstrated the solidity of the initial plan. Operations approved so far are worth more than EUR 154 billion, 62% funded by private investors, 380.000 SMEs supported more than 50.000 microenterprises. The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal and the Council's decision to prolong the EFSI and to boost its financing. The support of SMEs should be continued but as it was emphasised in the opinion, they should be made aware that they received EU support; therefore the Committee recommends increasing the visibility of the Funds. The EESC also calles for an ever greater involvement of private capital in the EFSI and underlines the importance of a balanced geographical and sectoral coverage. Furthermore, the Committee highlighted the need to reinforce the social dimension of the EFSI. It also recommends bolstering the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) and a strengthened role of National Promotional Banks.
According to Alberto Mazzola, EESC rapporteur on EFSI: "We propose, while guaranteeing the proper use, an ever greater involvement of private capital: the bond market, insurance and investment funds. In Europe, institutional investors manage EUR 13,5 trillion, less than 1% of which invested in infrastructure." The Juncker Plan, with greater funding than other initiatives, enables investment in large-scale cross border European projects worth more than EUR 10 billion each supported mainly by private capital, such as: the European air traffic control system SESAR, the European Railway Traffic Management System ERTMS, Connected and Automatic Driving, the North Sea meshed offshore grid for wind farms, industrial Gigabyte, High Performance Computing, and broadband rollout across Europe. "To implement these projects, the Commission must be proactive. EFSI should also support sectors including dual technologies related to the common security and defence industry, and amend accordingly the list of sectors excluded from the EIB", the EESC rapporteur stated.
At its December Plenary, the EESC debated several key issues affecting Europe's future economic development with Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen. During the debate, he said: "As a result of its first year and a half in operation, EFSI has provided financing to 380,000 European SMEs. To date, the fund has financed 30bn euros and through the 240 agreements established between various types of banks, it will trigger 160bn in additional investments. Contrary to the criticism that EFSI is more beneficial to older Member States, EFSI's influence per GDP is actually highest in Estonia, then Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy and Greece - it is the lower number of projects financed that gives the impression of this difference."