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EESC: 75 million euros for SMEs as a good start

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At the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) plenary session the vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, whose remit covers jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, announced that EUR 75 million would be made available to SMEs in late April 2015 under the new European Fund for Strategic Investment.

The EESC opinion on the Investment plan for Europe, which the Committee also had the opportunity to discuss with Mr Katainen, welcomes the Investment Plan for Europe as a step in the right direction and a practical way to achieve the European Commission’s growth and jobs objectives. At the same time, the opinion notes that serious questions are being asked about the plan’s size and timescale, the degree of leverage and the flow of suitable projects. In his address to the EESC plenary assembly, Mr Katainen underlined three very important elements in the investment plan: the need to deepen and widen the single market, the Energy Union, and the need to establish a well-functioning internal market for capital.

“The EU investment plan is a welcome step forward as it focuses on growth and employment. The availability of funds for SMEs in April is therefore good news. I would also stress the importance of informing and involving people on the ground, and in particular SMEs, about those developments” – EESC president Henri Malosse

Mr Katainen himself stressed the importance of keeping people and businesses in the loop: “People on the ground should know what is going on.” He also highlighted the key role of social partners in this process: “I do my share to involve social partners.

In the ensuing debate on the investment plan, the three EESC Groups (Employers, Workers and Various Interests) stressed the need to involve local partners, to create quality jobs for grassroots Europeans and to improve European competitiveness.

The EESC members welcomed the European Commission’s new direction as outlined by the first vice-president Frans Timmermans – the need to set priorities, to limit the number of new legislative proposals and to review already existing legislation, and the importance of the fundamental principle of subsidiarity. 

“Just because a subject is important does not necessarily mean that Europe has to deal with it,” said Timmermans during the debate with the EESC members at the plenary session on 18 March. 

Source: EESC

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