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MEMO/05/81

Brussels, 8 March 2005

Competitiveness Council – 7 march

Summary of main points

A new start for the Lisbon Strategy

Following a presentation of Vice-President Verheugen, the Council welcomed the Commission's “growth and jobs” communication to the Spring European Council, recommending to focus on growth and jobs through fewer and clearer priorities, which need to be identified and limited to a number of core areas, implemented through sharper policy instruments. The Competitiveness Council underlined that it had a key role to play in driving the new initiatives and structural reforms necessary to meet the Lisbon goals, by contributing to conditions which foster investment, innovation and greater competition, throughout the European Union. The Competitiveness Council also recognised the importance of sustainable development as an overarching principle of all policies. In order to achieve sustainable development, the EU should give priority to growth and jobs through improved competitiveness. Ministers underlined that it is essential that the EU, Member States, Parliaments, and stakeholders take clear ownership and decisive action at their respective levels (for more information see IP/05/265).

Better regulation

The Council had an exchange of view on the Presidency report on better regulation. Commissioner Verheugen underlined that simplification, cutting red-tape and improving the impact assessment for EU legislation were one of the most important priorities of the Barroso Commission. He welcomed the fact that the Presidency report agreed to a common methodology for impact assessment for all EU institutions. He announced that the Commission would table a better regulation package mid-March.

Charter for SMEs

The Council had an exchange of views on the Commission’s report on the SME Charta. Mr. Verheugen stressed the importance of SMEs for the EU economy. The 5th Charta report focuses on three main areas: Education to foster entrepreneurial initiative, better administrative and bankruptcy law, lack of skilled labour. The Commission concluded that the Charta had developed into a key element to foster competitiveness on level European and national level and was an important element of the re-launched Lisbon agenda.

REACH

No substantial discussion took place.

Textile imports

Italy raised concerns about negative consequences of the end of import quotas for textiles. Commissioner Verheugen pointed out that possible problems could not be solved with protectionist measures. He said that the Commission was very vigilant, was monitoring imports and would continue to seek to minimise adverse effects for certain regions through the high level group on textiles.

Proposed Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions

The Commission welcomes the adoption by the Council of its common position and will now engage constructively with both the European Parliament and the Council to reach a compromise in the interest of a balanced result.


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