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European Economic and Social Committee

Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion

Mr Joost van Iersel


President

Intervention at the
Roundtable

EU INDUSTRY AND MONETARY POLICY


The role of the EIB

THE VIEWS OF THE EESC ON IMPROVING


FINANCIAL CONDITIONS IN THE ECONOMY
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The EESC has recently done a lot of work on ways to improve financing of
the economy and of businesses. It has in this context also tackled the
particular problems of SMEs.
· The EESC recognises that there are serious problems for enterprises to access
financing, in particular for SMEs and in the peripheral Member States.
o This hampers economic recovery, and entails serious problems (for example no
job creation, high unemployment)
o The EESC finds that the policy action has not been commensurate with the size
of the problem and that more decisive action is necessary.
· EESC recognises that the ECB has taken important and non-conventional steps to
contain the crisis.
· The ECB has made huge quantities of cheap money available to banks, but the EESC
observes (as is presented in the CCMI project) that this money is not passed on for
productive investment
o Therefore conclusions and proposals for policy action of this project are of
high relevance
o The EESC has not yet done specific work on the proposals made here,
therefore me (the ECO section president) cannot come up with a position
o It could be envisaged to report on the conclusions of this project at an
upcoming ECO section meeting
o I (the ECO section president) will now outline the position of the EESC on
improving the financing conditions in the EU economy:

Functioning Capital Markets

· EESC wants conditions to be created for an efficient, modern financial services


sector with appropriate regulations, which grants access to capital providers by
companies seeking investment, especially SMEs and high growth companies;
· The EESC strongly supports the ultimate goal of the Capital Markets Union – to
overcome the current fragmentation of the markets (along national boundaries)
o EESC puts the focus on productive investment and the formation of long-
lived tangible and intangible capital (As opposed to short term non-
productive investment in financial assets)
o EESC calls for policy changes which influence the longer term time
horizons of investment decisions
o EESC calls for changing the bias in fiscal systems in favour of debt
financing of business ("the debt bias").
o greater use of equity investment should be promoted
· Banks might play a less prominent role in the future as providers of financing , but
will continue playing a leading role
o Obstacles that prevent banks from fulfilling their role must be avoided.

…/…
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· Opportunities may arise for other intermediaries such as national and multilateral
development banks, institutional investors, sovereign funds and, crucially, bond and
equity markets.
· ЕЕSC finds that for well-functioning capital markets the completion of a banking
union is essential
o Commission on 24 Nov will present a proposal for a European Deposit Re-
Insurance scheme- this is the missing building block of Banking Union

The role of the EIB, EIF and on national development bodies

· EESC find the role of the EIB important to leverage private investment finance and
to play a countercyclical role in investment funding and credit supply to SMEs;

· EESC proposes that the EIF's role should be enlarged beyond providing loans to
include the provision of venture capital. If the EIF were to be adequately
recapitalised then it could become one of the main providers venture finance for
SMEs;

· EESC perceives that national and regional governments are already in the business of
promoting the survival and long-term growth of SMEs through their regional
development bodies,
o EESC and feels that these bodies could to take on a role that could range from
assessing the credit worthiness of client SMEs to providing limited
guarantees to institutional investors.

Measures taken by the ECB / by EU central bank to improve financing

· The EESC feels that the decline in working capital lending to SMEs is a chronic form
of market failure.
· The EESC points out that one of the most interesting initiatives to try to stimulate
lending to the real economy is the "Funding for Lending" Scheme in the UK.
o It was extremely successful in boosting mortgage lending and lending to
households in the UK and was then changed to solely boost SME lending.
· EESC recommended in an opinion the Funding for Lending Scheme as an example
of good practice and recommended that the ECB give serious consideration to the
introduction of a similar initiative in the euro area.
o The EESC is pleased to note that the ECB's on 5 June 2014 announced the
Targeted Long Term Refinancing Operation (TLTRO), a scheme similar
to the "Funding for Lending" Scheme.

The role of the banking sector and different banking models

· The EESC considers it vital to preserve the "biodiversity" of the financial system,
without this meaning the arbitrary application of rules.

…/…
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· The EESC 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 recommends the use of objective parameters that justify a specific
regulation for each business model. (financial and economic performance,
contribution to the real economy, risk management, and governance).

Growth and sovereign debt in the EU: two innovative proposals


· The EESC advocates the introduction of two complementary but distinct EU bonds:
Union Bonds for stabilising debt, and Eurobonds for recovery and growth.
· The EESC recommends also the use of a share of the net inflows into Eurobonds to
finance a European venture capital fund, which was one of the design aims of the
European Investment Fund (EIF). This solution would not require any modification of
the Treaties.
· Union Bonds – gradually converted national debt of up to 60% of GDP to Union
Bonds -could be held in a consolidated but untraded debit account and not be traded:
Member States whose debt is held in Union Bonds would service their share of them.
· Eurobonds issued to finance recovery and growth would be traded and could
attract funds into the EU.
· Moreover, cohesion would be increased and competitiveness would be boosted, with a
share of the capital flows attracted by issuing Eurobonds financing a venture capital
fund for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The specific problems of SMEs

Inadequate supply of financing has been constraining investment by SMEs since


2008 (in particular in peripheral Member States). Decisive measures are urgently
needed. The EESC has examined this question and wants to draw the attention to the
following:

• SMEs' needs, structures and capacities vary. A comprehensive study on the main
types of SMEs and mid-caps is a necessary prerequisite for policy action.
• In order to enhance the lending capacity of banks, a careful revival of the
securitisation markets needs to be encouraged.
• Capital requirements for banks and insurance companies should be calibrated in a
way that does not discourage investment in assets that are essential for SME growth
(equity, securitised SME loan portfolios, SME bonds).
• The transparency of how local commercial banks, promotional banks or other
intermediaries distribute EIB / EIF funds should be significantly improved.

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List of recent EESC work on financing the economy

Long-term financing – financial services sector Michael Smyth


European Long-term Investment Funds Michael Smyth
Finance for business/alternative supply mechanisms Michael Smyth
Long-term financing – follow-up Michael Smyth
Role of cooperative and savings banks in territorial cohesion Carlos Trias Pintó
Access to finance for SMEs (information report) Dimitris Dimitriadis
Restarting growth Carmelo Cedrone

Full details of the opinion:


Opinion of the EESC on the Green Paper on long-term financing of the European economy
(COM(2013) 150 final/2)
OJ C 327 of 12 November 2013, p. 11
Rapporteur: Mr Michael Smyth
Adopted at the Plenary Session of 10-11 July 2013

Full details of the opinion:


Opinion of the EESC on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the
Council on European Long-term Investment Funds
(COM(2013) 462 final - 2013/0214 (COD))
OJ C 67 of 6 March 2014, p. 71
Rapporteur: Mr Michael Smyth
Adopted at Plenary Session of 16-17 October 2013

Full details of the opinion:


Opinion of the EESC on Finance for business: an investigation of alternative supply
mechanisms (own-initiative opinion)
OJ C 451 of 16 December 2014, p. 20
Rapporteur: Mr Michael Smyth
Adopted at the Plenary Session of 9-10 July 2014

Full details of the opinion:


Opinion of the EESC on Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament
and the Council on Long-Term Financing of the European Economy
(COM(2014) 168 final)
OJ C 451 of 16 December 2014, p.91
Rapporteur: Mr Michael Smyth / Co-rapporteur: Mr Vincent Farrugia
Adopted at the Plenary Session of 9 July 2014.

Full details of the opinion:


Opinion of the EESC on The role of cooperative and savings banks in territorial cohesion -
proposals for an adapted financial regulation framework
OJ C 251, 31.7.2015, p. 7–12
Rapporteur: Mr Trias Pintó (Various Interests – ES)

…/…
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Adopted at the Plenary Session of 18 February 2015.

Full details of the information report:


Information Report of the EESC on Access to finance for SMEs and Midcaps in the period
2014–2020: Opportunities and challenges
Rapporteur: Dimitris DIMITRIADIS
Submitted to the Plenary Session of 1 July 2015

Full details of the information report:


Opinion on Growth and sovereign debt in the EU: two innovative proposals (own-initiative
opinion)
Rapporteur: Carmelo CEDRONE
Submitted to the Plenary Session of 22 Feb 2012
OJ C 143 of 22.05.2012, p. 10

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