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Preparation of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Luxembourg, 6th June 2005 and Space Council 7th June –

European Commission - MEMO/05/191   03/06/2005

Other available languages: none

MEMO/05/191

Brussels, 3th June 2005

Preparation of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Luxembourg, 6th June 2005 and Space Council 7th June –

(Gregor Kreuzhuber, Oliver Drewes, Antonia Mochan, Phillip Tod )

The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Luxembourg on Monday 6th June at 14.00 under the chairmanship of Jeannot Krecké, Luxembourg Minister of the Economy and Foreign Trade. The European Commission will be represented by Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, Charlie McCreevy, Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Commissioner Janez Potocnik, responsible for Science abd Research iand Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and consumer protection.

Informal lunch discussion

Ministers will have an exchange of views on oil prices in preparation of the meeting with OPEC scheduled for 9 June. Commissioner McCreevy will give a presentation of the state of play on the services directive. Additionally the Commissioner will present the results of the status report on SOLVIT.

REACH

On 29 October 2003, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new EU regulatory framework for chemicals.. Under the proposed new system called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), enterprises that manufacture or import more than one tonne of a chemical substance per year would be required to register it in a central database. The aims of the proposed new Regulation are to improve the protection of human health and the environment while maintaining the competitiveness and enhancing the innovative capability of the EU chemicals industry. REACH would furthermore give greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. This information would be passed down the chain of production.

The Council will discuss a draft report prepared by the Presidency. Discussion will focus on questions related to the role of the proposed European Chemicals Agency and on the impact assessment. The report also aims to present the results of the large volume of work that has been undertaken over the past 5 months on the REACH proposal.

Better regulation

On 5 April the Commission tabled the better regulation package designed to cut-red tape, to tackle excessive regulation and to help to strike the right balance between costs and benefits of legislation. “Better regulation” forms an integral part of European Commission’s “partnership for growth and jobs. Improving the quality of regulation can significantly spur growth in the EU economy and business. This is why “better regulation” is a centrepiece of the European Commission’s “partnership for growth and jobs”. It is essential for setting up the right conditions for growth and employment in Europe. The Presidency will present proposed conclusions for adoption by the Council.

7th Framework programme

It is hoped that during the UK Presidency (about mid-November) a finalised amended text for FP7 proposal will be ready. The Presidency has prepared a questionnaire which describes the outcome of the working level discussions since April 6 and covers a set of six horizontal aspects. These areas are:

1. Scientific contents and themes

Space and Security will probably be treated under two separate headings.

2. Joint Technology Initiatives

A very complicated subject technically which necessitated the setting up of a Working Party to clarify key aspects. Issues remaining to be discussed include funding mechanisms, themes, selection criteria and transparency.

3. SMEs

Discussion will focus on whether there should be a target for SME participation, and the link with the overall effort to simplify the programme. .

4. Transfer and dissemination

Consideration of possible mechanisms, an assessment of the effectiveness of dissemination tools and the link with intellectual property rights will all be considered.

5. Human resources

This part of the FP7 proposal receives overall support but clarification about participants will be necessary, as well as discussion about co-funding of regional and national programmes.

7. Management and implementation

Certain general management issues arise that require ministerial discussion, even though the bulk of management and administration issues will be addressed in the Specific Programmes and Rules of Participation to be proposed in autumn 2005. Points for debate at this meeting could include comitology, simplification, externalisation of the administration of some parts of the programme, monitoring, and funding mechanisms.

ITER

Commissioner Potočnik will brief Ministers on the present situation regarding ITER.

Informal Dinner

Dinner discussions among research ministers will cover the creation of a European Research Council.

Any other business

a) SOLVIT

Commissioner McCreevy will highlight the positive results of the SOLVIT network. SOLVIT helps citizens and businesses to exercise their rights in Europe in situations where national authorities do not apply EU rules correctly. The track record for SOLVIT is very encouraging with a case increase of more than 70% in 2004. More than 80% of all cases submitted were resolved, the majority within the deadline of ten weeks. As SOLVIT case flow continues to grow, Commissioner McCreevy will urge Member States to ensure that all the national SOLVIT Centres are adequately staffed. SOLVIT is a good example of a practical approach to making Europe work by providing a fast, effective and red tape free service to citizens and businesses.

b) Health and Consumer Protection Programme 2007-13

Ministers will hold an orientation debate in public on the Commission’s proposal for a Health and Consumer Protection Programme 2007-13. On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for an ambitious strategy and programme, setting out objectives for the years ahead for both Community health policy and consumer protection policy.

c) Situation of the fish processing industry (request from Denmark

d) Admission of third country nationals for scientific research – The Netherlands has requested information from the Commission and Presidency on this proposal, which is primarily being dealt with by Justice and Home Affairs Ministers

Space Council

The second meeting of the Space Council will take place in Luxembourg on Tuesday 7 June at 15.00.

On 23 May the Commission outlined the first elements for a European Space Policy, which is expected to be devised and approved before the end of 2005. The Commission’s communication (COM(2005)208 final: identifies the roles and responsibilities in space policy of the EU, Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA) and other stakeholders and the relevant funding sources and instruments. The Commission also specifies priorities, funding principles and an approach to developing a broad industry policy for Europe as a whole.

Ministers will have a general exchange of views on the further definition of European Space Policy and the European Space Programme (ESP). To this end, the main task of the second “Space Council" will be to give a clear political signal on the second set of orientations on the future development of ESP. The orientations include a request to the Council to reaffirm the need to have a European Space Programme by the end of 2005. The European Space Programme is part of an overall European Space Policy which also includes a strategy and key principles for implementation – including principles on a industrial policy for the space sector.


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