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Brussels, 21.05.2010

Competitiveness Council – 25/26 May 2010

The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, 25 and 26 May under the chairmanship of the Spanish Presidency: Mr Don Miguel Sebastián (Industry, Tourism and Commerce Minister), Mr Diego López Garrido, (Secretary of State for European Affairs) and Ms Cristina Garmendia (Science and Innovation Minister). The European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Vice-President Neelie Kroes responsible for the Digital Agenda, Commissioner Michel Barnier responsible for the Internal Market and Services and Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn responsible for Research and Innovation.

Industrial issues:

Green vehicles

The Council should discuss and adopt conclusions on Clean and energy efficient vehicles. Such discussion comes as a turning point following the adoption of a Communication that lays out the European strategy with over 40 concrete actions for clean and energy-efficient vehicles. The Commission proposes a technologically neutral approach based on two tracks: reinforcement of clean conventional internal combustion engines on one hand and development of advanced technologies in ultra-low-carbon vehicles on the other. In addition, standards will be developed to ensure interoperability and safety issues. Vice-President Tajani will welcome this debate on the Action Plan for clean cars which is an important instrument ensuring that Europe takes the lead with respect to global competitors.

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Construction products

Regarding the Commission proposal for a Regulation on harmonised conditions on the marketing of construction products, the Council will acknowledge the political agreement on this important file and is expected to endorse it. The political agreement reached gives full support to the Commission's proposal to have -for the first time in EU legislation - a specific expemption for microbusinesses as foreseen in the Small Business Act.

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Relaunch of the internal market (Monti report)

Vice-President Tajani, also responsible for the internal market in goods, and Commissioner Barnier will attend the ministers' lunch with Professor Monti who has recently delivered the report on Relaunch of the Single Market. Vice-President Tajani will stress the need to improve access to the internal market for companies, in particular for SMEs, and also to strengthen consumers' rights. Accordingly, the simplification of legislation should be continued, standardisation improved and the marketing of eco-efficient products encouraged. Consumer access to cross-border electronic commerce should be facilitated; consumer protection should also be increased. Mr Monti emphasized the importance of a swift implementation of the Small Business Act in all the Member States for a well functioning Internal Market.

Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)

The following day, Vice-President Tajani will participate in the Research Ministers’ debate on the progress report on the draft Regulation on the European earth observation programme (GMES) and its initial operation (2011-2013). The Presidency will present a Report on the proposed agreement after first reading. This agreement is of great importance to ensure the start of the operational phase of GMES and to set up a sound governance structure and to ensure its long term financing.

Services Directive - state of play

Commissioner Barnier will inform the Council about the current state of play on the implementation of the Services Directive. Despite good progress achieved in recent months, the Commission will point out several areas and Member States where efforts need to be increased to rapidly conclude implementation work. The Presidency will then report on the state of play of the "mutual evaluation", an innovative working method foreseen by the Services Directive. Throughout 2010, the Commission and Member States will join forces to assess the outcome of the implementation process, exchange good regulatory practices and identify areas where further initiatives may be required.

The Services Directive was adopted at the end of 2006 with the aim of bringing down barriers to trade in the biggest and most dynamic economic sector in the EU - the services sector. It obliges all EU countries to remove excessive or unjustified requirements, to simplify administrative procedures and to set up "Points of Single Contact", through which businesses can complete all formalities online. Proper implementation of the Directive should considerably facilitate life for small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as for consumers and help realise the untapped potential of the internal market in services. In the current economic crisis, the issue has become even more pressing.

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Future revision of EU trade mark system

Ministers are expected to adopt Council conclusions on the 'Future revision of the trade mark system in the European Union'.

In the EU, businesses can gain protection for their trade marks under the 'Community Trade Mark' (CTM) system. The system has been highly successful: in 2009, over 87,000 applications for CTMs were made. However, given that the harmonisation of trademark law took place 20 years ago and the CTM itself was introduced 15 years ago, it is widely recognised that a thorough evaluation of the system as a whole is needed. Therefore, the Commission recently launched a study to assess the overall functioning of the trademark system in Europe. The study will assess the current state of play of the CTM system and the potential for improvement and future development. As the CTM system is closely linked to national trade mark systems, the study will also evaluate national systems and, in particular, the relation and interaction between the two systems, including the need for further harmonisation. The final results of this study are expected in November 2010.

The Council conclusions and the Commission's study will both serve as a basis for future revision of the trade mark system as a whole and enhanced cooperation between the Office for Harmonization on the Internal Market ('OHIM') and the national trade mark offices of Member States.

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Legal framework for gambling and betting in the Member States of the European Union

- Information from the Presidency

The Presidency has followed on from the work started under the French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies. The discussions in the Council Working Group have this time concentrated on actions against illegal gambling.

The Progress Report concludes that Member States have come to a common understanding on a shared definition of illegal gambling which may be defined as gambling in which operators do not comply with the national law of the country where services are offered, provided those national laws are in compliance with EU Treaty principles. The Progress Report also refers to measures adopted by Member States, such as sanctions or IP blocking for online operators as possible measures against illegal gambling. Public campaigns and responsible gaming are deemed useful to prevent illegal gambling and to protect citizens. Lastly, and importantly, the report encourages the Commission to start consultations with Member States and stakeholders in the context of a Green Paper and to follow this up with specific proposals.

The Digital Agenda for Europe

Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes will present the Digital Agenda for Europe, the first of the EU2020 flagship initiatives, adopted by the Commission on 19th May (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). Mrs Kroes will briefly outline how the Digital Agenda sets out to speed up economic recovery by capitalising on the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and will urge Ministers to work with the Commission, the European Parliament and all stakeholders to support the ambitious aims of the Digital Agenda to maximise the potential of ICTs over the coming years. The Agenda outlines seven priority areas for action: creating a digital Single Market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, much faster internet access, more investment in research and development, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion, and applying information and communications technologies to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population. In these seven areas, the Digital Agenda foresees some 100 follow-up actions, of which 31 would be legislative.

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Three diverse points also fall within Vice-President Tajani's portfolio:

  • Shipbuilding: "LeaderSHIP 2015" – information on the shipbuilding situation in Europe and new actions;

  • Outcome of the informal meeting of Ministers for Tourism in Spain (Madrid, 14 and 15 April);

  • Information on state of play of the future EU rules for textile labelling.


A separate memo will be issued on Tuesday 25 May covering the research points that the Council will deal with on 26 May.

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