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Brussels, 26 February 2010

Competitiveness Council - 1-2 March 2010

The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday, 1 and 2 March 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, Commissioner Michel Barnier responsible for the Internal Market and Services and Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn responsible for Research and Innovation.


A new industrial policy:

The Council should adopt and have a discussion on the conclusions relating to industrial policy. That will give them the opportunity to discuss clean cars and ways of improving the energy efficiency of vehicles. On this occasion, Vice-President Tajani will welcome the tenor of the debate on electric cars at the informal Council in San Sebastian.

Vice-President Tajani, also responsible for the internal market in goods, and Commissioner Barnier will attend the ministers' lunch with Professor Monti who is responsible, at the request of President Barroso, for writing a report concerning the revival 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.

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). That will allow the ministers to discuss the progress of the negotiations. The crucial point is to ensure the continuity of financing after 31 December 2010, in order to allow the continued operation of GMES operation beyond this date.

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

  • the consequences for industry of the Copenhagen conference on climate change;

  • the conclusions reached by the informal Council in San Sebastian of 8 and 9 February which covered electric cars;

  • standardisation as regards electric cars within as well as outside the EU.


Internal Market Scoreboard 20

Commissioner Barnier will present the latest Internal Market Scoreboard and Ministers will discuss on the progress made on transposing and applying Internal Market rules in the Member States.

Published twice a year, the Internal Market Scoreboard monitors where Member States stand in terms of transposing EU Internal Market rules and ranks them according to their progress. The Scoreboard also looks at the quality of the transposition and application of Internal Market rules.

More information:

State of Play on the Services Directive

Commissioner Barnier will inform the Council on the state of implementation of the Services Directive. The Commission will provide an overview of the situation and point out areas and Member States where efforts need to be increased.

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 so-called "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.

More information:

Enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market

Ministers will discuss the draft resolution to strengthen the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market.

The draft resolution will reinforce the joint commitment of Member States and the Commission in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy by calling for:

  • further implementation of the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy;

  • strengthening administrative cooperation and mutual assistance;

  • promotion of voluntary inter-industry agreements and public-private partnerships;

The resolution follows the Commission's communication of September 2009 (IP/09/1313).

Internal Market Information System (IMI)

The Internal Market information System (IMI) is an electronic multilingual tool providing for the exchange of information between Member States. This means that they can engage in more effective day-to-day cooperation in the implementation of Internal Market legislation.

The IMI system makes it very easy to identify the right counterpart for a particular subject in another Member State. As a result of faster and more effective exchange of information between administrations, citizens and businesses will get a better public service when exercising their EU rights. The system is currently being used to support the Directive on Professional Qualifications (2005/36/EC) and the Services Directive (2006/123/EC), which came into force at the end of December 2009.

Ministers are to discuss the progress made so far with IMI and to explore how IMI can be applied in other policy areas.

More information:


Proposal for a Decision of the Parliament and Council on Community participation in a Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (BONUS-169)

This part of the Council will be held in web-streamed public session. There will be a progress report from the Presidency on steps towards EU participation in a joint Baltic Sea research programme called "BONUS" (IP/09/1648). The objective of BONUS is to transform the research in that region into a durable interdisciplinary, well-integrated and focused multinational programme to support sustainable development. It will deal with the sea and the coast and their interdependence. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will offer the constructive support of the Commission to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

Evaluation of the mechanisms and structures of the European Research Council (ERC)

The Council will adopt conclusions. The review of the ERC (IP/09/1184) completed in July last year by an independent high-level expert group, concluded that the executive agency structure should be maintained, but that a number of concrete actions are needed, within a two-year time frame, to ensure the ERC's sustainability.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will emphasise the widespread view that the ERC is a success story and indicate the Commission's general agreement with the review's conclusions. She will stress that in light of the crisis and the societal challenges ahead, there is a need to maintain a key role for frontier research. She will ask for the ERC challenges to be approached as part of the broader strategy for research, including simplification, and she will call for the support of Member States in this.

European researchers' mobility and careers (joint proceedings with EPSCO)

In May 2008, the Commission adopted a Communication on "Better careers and more mobility: a European partnership for researchers" (IP/08/802) as one of the five European Research Area (ERA) initiatives. It proposed a set of initiatives to ensure that researchers across the EU benefit from the right training and attractive career prospects and that barriers to their mobility are removed.

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions with a clear political message from the Research Ministers to their Employment and Social Affairs colleagues, proposing to join forces so that each fully uses its competence and to improve interaction to make research careers more attractive.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and a delegation of Research Ministers will be invited to attend the EPSCO Council of 8 March to present these conclusions and discuss policy measures to improve research careers, in particular by improving the social security conditions of mobile researchers. She will welcome this initiative by the Spanish Presidency.

Commission Communication on the Europe 2020 Strategy

The Competitiveness Council will also have the opportunity to have a first exchange of views with Vice-President Tajani and Commissioners Barnier and Geoghegan-Quinn on the Europe 2020 Strategy that the Commission will adopt on 3 March.

Any other business

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will give a brief progress report on ITER (IP/09/1773). The Council will return to the issue at the next Competitiveness Council in May.

The Commissioner will also present the research aspects of the Commission Communication on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) (IP/09/1740). The European Economic Recovery Plan earmarks a total of € 3.2 billion for three research and innovation PPPs (factories of the future, energy efficient buildings and green cars). The first calls totaling €268 million euro were published on 30 July 2009, and the preliminary results point towards a success rate of around 30 per cent. The first medium-term benefits will be visible from about the middle of this decade when the innovation process succeeds to bring the new clean technologies to the market. Further calls are also foreseen for the middle of this year.

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