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MEMO/05/445

Brussels, 25 November 2005

Preparation of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Brussels, 28th /29th November 2005 –

(Gregor Kreuzhuber, Oliver Drewes, Antonia Mochan, Barbara Helfferich)

The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th November starting at 10.00 on Monday under the chairmanship of, the Alan Johnson, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. 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, Stravos Dimas, Commissioner for Environment and Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Science and Research.

Monday 28th November

7th Framework Programme for Research

On FP7, the Council is expected to achieve substantial progress by adopting a Partial General Approach (first formal position of the Council) on the Commission proposal of 6 April 2005. The Council should reach a high level of consensus on the Commission proposal.

Commission Communication: More Research and innovation – Investing for Growth and Employment: A Common Approach

The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions on more research and innovation, without major debate. This communication is the first comprehensive overview of actions in all EU policy areas related to research and innovation.

Working Lunch of Research Ministers 28 November.

During this lunch the Council will discuss the follow-up to the Hampton Court informal European Council concerning R&D. Three questions are to be tackled in the discussion are: how to improve public R&D funding in order to increase leverage effect on private R&D, how to stimulate demand for research and innovation and how to ensure Europe develops and takes advantage of the best researchers."

Space Policy

In the afternoon the third meeting of the Space Council will be held and will be co-chaired by European Space Agency. On 14th November 2005 the Commission launched a pilot phase of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) a new monitoring system to deal with natural disasters. Natural and manmade catastrophes in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, coupled with increased security needs, have further reinforced the case for improved monitoring systems.

The European Commission has come forward with plans to introduce the first three earth observation services concerning emergency management, land and marine monitoring. After GALILEO, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) has become the second EU flagship in space policy. It will gather relevant data, for example concerning environmental pollution, floods, forest fires or earthquakes in support of public policy makers’ needs. GMES will ensure that crisis situations can be better anticipated and managed. It can provide the foundation for evidence-based environmental policy making, as well as the information required to ameliorate its effects on citizens.

The Council will discuss the Commission Communication ‘Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and is expected to adopt orientations on the basis of the Commission’s Communication. In addition the Council will have a first discussion on international cooperation in the context of the future Space Policy.

Industry Policy

On 7th November the Commission adopted a new industrial policy to create the conditions for manufacturing to thrive. The new EU industrial policy will complement work at Member State level to support a strong and dynamic industrial base. It includes seven new cross-sectoral initiatives – on competitiveness, energy and the environment, on intellectual property rights, on better regulation, on industrial research and innovation, on market access, on skills, and on managing structural change - which will benefit a wide range of industry sectors. In addition, the Commission brought forward seven new initiatives targeted at specific sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, defense and information and communication technologies. The focus is on investment in skills and equipping people for change. This industrial policy aims to support adaptability and structural change to boost the competitiveness of EU manufacturing, especially in the light of increasingly strong competition from China and Asia. This is an important step in the delivery of the new Lisbon “Partnership for Growth and Jobs”. .At the informal dinner on Monday evening Ministers will discuss industrial policy on the basis of the Commission Communication. The Presidency will present its conclusions to the Council on Tuesday morning when there will be an exchange of views.

Tuesday 29th November

Better Regulation – Simplification of Legislation

The regulatory framework in which businesses operate is a key factor of their competitiveness, growth and employment performance. Therefore, a key objective of the European Union's Enterprise policy is to ensure that the regulatory environment is simple and of high quality. This is why “better regulation” is a centrepiece of the European Commission’s “Partnership for Growth and Jobs” - the renewed 'Lisbon Strategy' launched in spring 2005.To make sure that regulation is used only when necessary and that the burdens they impose are proportionate to their aim, the Commission has a number of processes and tools in place:

  1. Withdrawal or modification of pending legislative proposals
  2. Measures to simplify existing legislation
  3. Better quality of new Commission proposals: systematic use of impact assessment and public consultation in the development of new policy proposals

In September the Commission delivered results from its better regulation initiative. After screening 183 proposals for EU laws pending at the European Parliament and Council, the Commission has announced that it will withdraw more than a third (68). In October the Commission has took another step to deliver on its commitment to cut unnecessary red-tape and over-regulation when it presented a three year programme to simplify the existing thousands of pages of EU legislation (“acquis”) adopted since 1957. The Council will continue its discussions on this initative and is expected to agree on its conclusions

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 of the EU chemicals industry and enhancing the innovative capability. REACH would furthermore give greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances. The Council will have a policy debate on the basis of a presidency progress report which takes into account the European Parliaments completion of its first reading. The Commission will continue to play a constructive role as facilitator in order to achieve a compromise that makes REACH more effective and more workable, while preserving a high level of protection for health and the environment

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)

At the Council meeting held on 11 May 2005 in Brussels, Ministers had a first exchange of views on the Competitive and Innovation Framework Programme which was proposed by the Commission in March this year. This proposal has an emphasis on targeting SMEs and the aim of enabling them to have access to innovation. The CIP has a budget of € 4.213 billion for the period 2007 – 2013 and will support actions that develop the capacity of enterprise and industry to innovate. Whilst building on tried and tested programmes, CIP also includes many new elements such as:

  1. a risk capital instrument for High Growth and Innovative Companies (GIF2)
  2. securitisation” of banks’ SME loan portfolios
  3. enhanced role for innovation and business support networks
  4. demonstrators of technological and organisational solutions to European ICT-services
  5. a twinning programme for policy makers.

The Council will hold a discussion on the state of play so far on the basis of a report from the Presidency.

Proposal for a Directive on Services in the Internal Market

Commissioner McCreevy will discuss the proposed Services Directive with Ministers over lunch. The discussion will be against the background of a progress report on the proposed Directive prepared by the Presidency. In order to steer the discussion, the Presidency has put forward three questions in the progress report: that deal with the scope of the proposal; the posting of workers and worker protection; and the provisions on free movement of services.

The European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted on the proposed Directive on 22 November 2005. The Plenary vote in first reading is envisaged for January 2006.

Any other business

(a) Progress report on the re-launched Lisbon strategy

(b) Obstacles to the mobility of workers request form Poland)

(c) Development of Tourism in Europe after enlargement (request from Lithuania)


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