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Brussels, Brussels 21 July 2011

Competitiveness Council – 21 – 22 July 2011

The Informal Competitiveness Council under the mandate of the Polish EU Presidency will meet in Sopot, Poland on Thursday and Friday, 21 and 22 July 2011. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Mr Waldemar Pawlak will chair the Council for the two days. The European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, and Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Environment.

Industry issues:

1. Competitiveness

After the economic crisis, it is clear that we need a new model of economic growth. The fast productivity growth of industry is needed to create wealth and provide jobs throughout the rest of the economy. Modern and competitive Industry is also essential to provide the solutions for many of the challenges facing our society, such as climate change and an aging population.

A strong industrial sector thus provides the basis for a more robust model of economic growth in Europe. Therefore thorough impact assessment and competitiveness proofing are essential to ensure that we are not burdening our industry excessively and putting it at disadvantage in comparison with competitors in third countries, which is an issue that will be discussed.

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2. A resource efficient economy

The Europe 2020 Strategy set out a new model of economic growth based on resource efficiency. The Resource Efficiency Flagship Communication in January established the objective of decoupling our growth from resource depletion. After centuries of building competitiveness on increased labour productivity, constraints and pressures on resources such as raw materials, energy, water and ecosystems means that companies must increasingly pay attention to increasing their resource productivity. Europe's future competitiveness depends increasingly on being able to "do more with less" and we will need to devote our creativity and entrepreneurship to finding ways to do this.

Two studies were conducted for the Commission by WIFO-Ecorys: "European industry in a context of sustainable growth" and "The competitiveness of European companies and resource efficiency". These studies analyze the performance of European enterprises in relation to sustainable development and resource efficiency. The results will be discussed at the Council.

The main messages that emerge are:

  • Companies are already taking action, because on the one hand resource efficiency is a way to save costs and on the other hand, environmental regulations encourage them. They also act to improve their image in the eyes of investors and the general public.

  • While increased resource efficiency can bring economic benefits and new business opportunities, measures require a prior investment which may be considerable. It is therefore important to ensure that we can mitigate risks and create incentives for companies to invest.

  • Several promising areas for further action are: the promotion of a circular economy valorising waste, increasing financing options, support to R&D&I, public-private partnerships and dissemination of good practices.

Topics relating to innovation, technology, production costs, information gaps, competitiveness proofing and corporate image will be discussed.

More information:

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