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Brussels, 4th March 2005

Preparation of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Brussels, 7th March 2005 – Internal Market, Industry and Research issues

The EU’s Council of Ministers responsible for competitiveness will meet in Brussels on Monday 7th March at 10.00 under the chairmanship of Jeannot Krecké, Luxembourg Minister of the Economy and Foreign Trade, Minister of Sport. The European Commission will be represented by Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry , Charlie McCreevey Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, and Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Science and Research.

Informal dinner discussion on Sunday 6 March (GK, CVR)

Vice President Verheugen and Peter Mandelson, Commissioner for Trade, will participate at an informal dinner on the external dimension of the relaunched Lisbon Strategy. ,Commissioner Mandelson will highlight the importance of a successful Doha Round in securing market access for European exporters. He will argue that Europe’s competitiveness at home can be enhanced through the removal of non-tariff barriers to trade abroad, including the removal of disincentives to trade such as poor enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries.

Lisbon Strategy – Mid term review (GK, OD)

The discussion on the Lisbon Strategy is expected to focus on the Competitiveness Council’s contribution to the Spring European Council which Ministers are expected to adopt. Vice President Verheugen will urge the member states to back the Commission’s recent proposal for a partnership for jobs and growth. It aims to revitalize the so-called Lisbon Agenda - the EUs economic reform agenda from 2000. There is a compelling case for urgent action. Five years after its launch, the Lisbon Strategy is not on track to deliver the expected results. To preserve the EU’s model of sustainable development for the future, the competitiveness of the Union must be strengthened, its economy must be dynamised. The Commission has set out a concrete action programme for the EU and its Member States to generate sustained economic growth and more and better jobs. On 2 February when the Commission relaunched the strategy it called on Member States to launch a new EU partnership for growth and jobs at the Spring European Council (22/23 March). (IP/05/130)

The Lisbon discussion will also cover the Commission’s Second Implementation Report on the Internal Market Strategy 2003-2006 (see IP/05/100). Europe needs an internal market that functions even better if the EU is to deliver for its citizens the raised living standards the Lisbon agenda aims for. While there have been big successes and the internal market has created millions of jobs since 1993, economic indicators suggest that market integration, especially in the field of services, is not moving fast enough.

Commissioner McCreevy will emphasise the importance for the success of the Lisbon Strategy of timely and accurate transposition of internal market legislation into national laws. He will welcome progress, shown in the January Internal Market Scoreboard by several Member States, new and longstanding, towards reducing their “transposition deficits”. He will stress again that the EU laws concerned are not “Brussels red tape”, but measures that open the Internal Market up to more competition, make it easier for companies to do business across the EU and boost growth and competitiveness. Implementing them late - or not at all - causes significant economic harm and deters investment.

Lunch discussions

At lunch Ministers will discuss the Services Directive and there will be an information point on International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Vice President Verheugen, Commissioner McCreevy and Commissioner Potocnik will participate.

Better regulation – Simplification of legislation (GK)

At its meeting on 25 November 2004 the Competitiveness Council agreed a list of 15 proposals as candidates for simplification which was sent to the Commission for inclusion in its simplification programme. The Presidency will present its report and will then give the floor to the Commission to give its views. This will be followed by an exchange of views on the basis of the following questions: 1)"How can the Council make best use of impact assessments as a tool in the decision making process?" 2) "Does the Council agree that its priorities for simplification of Community legislation should be established on a regular basis? How can this work be further improved as regards the identification of simplification priorities which could improve the competitiveness?" The Commission will inform the Council that it will come forward with a better regulation package to cut red tape and improve impact assessment before the Spring Summit.

Report on the Charter for SMEs (GK)

The Commission is expected to present the main findings of its fifth report on the implementation of the European charter for small enterprises and the Entrepreneurship Action Plan adopted in February 2004. Substantial progress in promoting small enterprises through learning from each other’s good practices has been achieved by Member States, and in particular the new Member States. The 5th Implementation Report of the European Charter for Small Enterprises lists progress in the following fields: education for entrepreneurship, better regulation, bankruptcy law and skills shortages, especially measures to overcome the lack of skilled technicians and engineers. Since 2000, the Charter, which provides a framework to help signatories take action to support small enterprises, has expanded from the EU-15 to 35 countries across Europe. The Charter commitments are also spreading beyond Europe with the recent signing of the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Enterprise, involving another nine countries. (see IP/05/178)

This will be followed by an exchange of views on the basis of the following questions prepared by the Presidency: 1) In what ways has the European Charter contributed in your country to implementing new measures and to developing policy with regard to small enterprises? 2) How could the Charter improve its contribution to meeting the objectives of the Lisbon process in the light of the Mid Term Review, given the importance attached to small enterprises and entrepreneurship and the ongoing debate on better regulation?

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) (AM)


The Presidency will present a short progress report. There is no substantial discussion foreseen, given a more comprehensive orientation debate on REACH is foreseen for the June Competitiveness Council.

Unfair Commercial Practices oral information from the Presidency

Other issues

Proposed Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions (CII) (OD)

The Commission is awaiting a decision from the Council on how they wish to proceed with this proposal.

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