The Economic and Social Committee of the European Communities has published its opinion on the Commission's proposal for a Third Multiannual Programme for SMEs, due to run from 1997 to 2000. The Committee recognizes the importance of SMEs for European competitiveness and supports the aims of the proposed programme. It considers, however, that the proposed budget of ECU 180 million over four years is the absolute minimum necessary and suggests that there is a danger of funding being dispersed over too many activities. In its opinion, the Committee repeats its call for the integration of SME policy into all aspects of Community policy, and welcomes the Commission's creation of a coordination unit for this purpose. The ESC also calls for more intensive consultation between the Commission and SME organizations representing both workers and entrepreneurs, since action programmes of this nature require to be revised from time to time in the light of recent developments. In addition, the ESC believes that such consultations will ensure the optimum distribution of limited resources.