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Brussels, 9 November 2000

Commission benchmarking initiative boosts drive to enhance competitiveness across Europe

The European Commission today released the first crop of findings from a set of scoreboard and benchmarking exercises across Europe. These findings give EU Member States an unprecedented opportunity to learn from each other, develop the policy mix that is right for them, and improve their competitive performance across the board. Harvesting Member States' best competitiveness policy ideas, and sharing, refining, and applying them across the European Union, will improve framework conditions for entrepreneurs to succeed. This in turn will help realise the Enterprise Europe ambition, backed by Member States at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, to create the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2005.

"Europe's competitiveness is improving, but still not fast enough to close the gap with our competitors, said Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen. We need to have a better idea of where we should improve to meet this challenge. Today's initiative will sharpen our policy instruments and allow Member States to identify and apply best practices in key enterprise policy areas to improve EU's overall performance".

The main findings of the Commission's initiative are presented in a working document entitled "Better, but not yet the Best". This document also draws on the findings of the recent Commission Communication "Innovation in a knowledge-driven economy".(1) In addition, the Commission has also issued the following documents:

  • Benchmarking Enterprise Policy. First results from the scoreboard;

  • Competitiveness Report 2000;

  • Report on the implementation of the Action Plan to Promote Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness (BEST report); and

  • Summary of Results of Best Practice-related Activities in the field of Enterprise Policy.

The enterprise policy scoreboard is a diagnostic tool for enterprise policy practitioners in the Member States. It not only presents the most comprehensive picture yet of the EU's competitive performance in the key enterprise policy fields of entrepreneurship, innovation and access to markets, but also identifies specific issues problem areas, best practices, and targets.

The Competitiveness report is primarily a tool for enterprise policy analysts. Its structural indicators, structural analysis, and comparative analysis are designed to feed policy debate. Its key finding is that Europe is gearing up, but still too slowly, for the knowledge-based economy.

The Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness Action Plan report is the first presentation since the Lisbon European Council of best practice models that need to be aired and taken up more widely. It makes recommendations in 6 priority areas of enterprise policy, and gives one-page summary examples of good and best practice.

The summary of results of best practice-related activities in the field of enterprise policy helps enterprise policy practitioners to identify what is already available, by bringing together reports from selected benchmarking projects for the first time.

Taken together, this package gives the broadest and sharpest picture yet of the European Union's competitive strengths and weaknesses. The policy recommendations will fuel the Best policy co-ordination procedure, which is already enabling the Commission, Member States, and enterprise policy practitioners to learn from each other how best to combine and exploit their competitive strengths. This procedure is set to become a rolling work programme in which identifying best practices within and beyond the European Union, and applying them ever more widely at home, should continuously upgrade the European Union's overall competitiveness.

Work on implementing the competitiveness recommendations should gather pace in 2001. Although driven by Member States, it will need to be closely monitored by the European Commission, to identify successes and pinpoint potential for further improvement. Competitiveness-enhancing measures are expected to complement and augment the benefits of those designed to foster entrepreneurship, as set out in the Multiannual Programme for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship 2001 2005. The key areas in which EU and Member State enterprise policy practitioners work to enhance competitiveness are:

  • reducing regulatory burdens (via business impact assessment, new approach to product regulation, global approach to product regulation, existing product review, and co-regulation),

  • pursuing best practice in areas covered by the European Charter for Small Enterprises (via the Multiannual Programme).

  • facilitating the take-up of new technologies and procedures (key areas for action identified in e-Europe action plan)

The entire competitiveness package is available on:

(1) COM(2000)567 final

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