Eighteen months after President Jean-Claude Junker launched the Investment Plan for Europe and a year after the start of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the European Commission released the Communication on Delivering the Single Market Agenda for Jobs, Growth and Investment. The Communication, published on June 1st, takes a stock of achievements to date and reflects on extending the fund after 2018.

Managed by the EIB Group, the EFSI is supposed to mobilise at least EUR 315 billion in additional investments in the real economy by mid-2018. By now, the fund is active in 26 Member States and it is financing 64 projects, which represent a volume of financing of EUR 9.3 billion.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has also approved 185 SME financing agreements, with total financing under the EFSI of EUR 3.5 billion. Some 150.000 SMEs and Midcaps are expected to benefit.

By presenting the Communication, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness underlined the importance of the new European Investment Project Portal (EIPP). The platform, launched on June 1st, aims to become a virtual hub, where promoters can showcase their European projects worldwide to investors.

The Communication on Delivering the Single Market Agenda describes the EU activities to promote an entrepreneurship-friendly environment, fostering innovation and human capital. These activities consist of public consultations, implementation and review of the existing tools. The core of the reform are the Single Market Strategy and the Action Plan on Building the Capital Markets Union.

The Commission considers essential improving the connections between savings and investments in the capital market, by promoting venture capital and preserving the capacity of banks to issue loans to SMEs. In order to promote new enterprises’ growth, the Commission proposes to establish a Venture Capital Fund-of-Funds, which will combine public finance with private capital. Two public consultations will be launched soon:

- the first one to prepare a new legislative initiative on business restructuring and insolvency. The aim of the new legislation is to improve the legal certainty for cross-border investors and to promote a better circulation of capitals;

- the second one aims to enhance the dissemination of voluntary personal pension products in order to mobilize extra capital available for long-term investments.

The existing legislative framework for financial services will be also fostered.

Considering the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission aims to improve globally the competitiveness of European enterprises. Administrative and legal barriers, including taxation-related obstacles must be removed, because they reduce their possibilities to expand across borders. Thanks to the e-Commerce package, launched in May, roaming charges across Europe will be removed by June 2017.

The Commission will revise the Audio-Visual Media and Service Directive, the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation and provide a wide range of follow-up initiatives to the VAT Action Plan. The Value Added Tax contributes in fact to 7% of EU GDP and almost all businesses have to deal with it. Therefore, the Commission supports the creation of a simple, modern and fraud-proof VAT system, more functional to e-commerce between consumers and providers having their seat in different Member States and more sustainable for SMEs.

Considering the relation between governments and enterprises, the Commission promotes the enforcement of the e-Government Action Plan, in order to develop e-procurement and to stimulate the demand for innovative digital products and services.

A new legislative initiative will be launched in autumn in order to improve the functioning of the notification procedure for services and in 2017 the Mutual Recognition Regulation will be reviewed. The objective is to make it easier for companies to demonstrate that their products are lawfully sold in a Member State. It will enhance the free circulation of goods within Europe and provide a set of actions to forbid the sale of products that do not comply with essential safety requirements.

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