EESC Employers' Group calls on European banks and EU authorities to restore business confidence

Under the current financial crisis situation,  Mr Guido Ravoet, Secretary General of the European Banking Federation, presented, on October 21st, the European banking sector's strategies for restoring business confidence to the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

The Employers' Group, chaired by its president, Mr Henri Malosse (France), welcomed the rescue plan launched by the EU institutions and the Member States, and also supported the proposal put forward by the EU Presidency, the Commission and the United States for a new "Bretton Woods" agreement.

Nevertheless, members of the Employers' Group expressed their concerns to Mr Guido Ravoet regarding the financial impact of the current crisis on SMEs and business as a whole. Despite the guarantees put forward by all interested parties, members seriously feared the "credit crunch". They pointed out that the sharp drop in funding could also affect long-term investments. In their view, European banks had to face their responsibilities.

Facing this situation, Mr Guido Ravoet agreed that "banks must do their utmost to restore confidence by cleaning up their balance sheets and communicating precisely their financial situation". He added that this would not be easy, whether at EU or international level, and would require "joint efforts and a lot of coordination on all sides".

At the beginning of October, the Commission put forward some measures aiming to reinforce confidence and stability of the financial system. Such measures involved a change in a series of rules relating to bank exposure management, liquidity and the quality of bank capitals; and were not only the follow up of the decision taken by EU Finance Ministers, but also the response to some G-7 Financial Stability Forum recommendations.

Employers' Group Chairman, Mr Henri Malosse concluded by expressing his concerns regarding the impact of the financial crisis on the economic situation, growth and employment in the EU. He stressed the need for a common, voluntary and consistent EU action plan aimed at boosting SMEs and relaunching private and public investment in industry, innovation, education, and infrastructure. These actions were key to restoring business and consumer confidence.

The EESC's plenary session also adopted on October 23rd, 2008,  an opinion on “ The ethical and social dimension of European financial institutions”, by rapporteur Mr Iozia.