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Brussels, 25 September 2013
Competitiveness Council – 26-27 September 2013
The Competitiveness Council will meet formally in Brussels for the first time under the Lithuanian Presidency on September 26-27. The European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Antonio Tajani, (Industry and Entrepreneurship) on Thursday 26th September, and by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research) and by Commissioner Günther Oettinger (energy) on Friday 27th September. On the first day, Ministers responsible for Industry and the Internal Market will discuss about SME competitiveness, the framework conditions for a competitive industry in Europe, the Communication 'Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector', and the competitive aspects of energy and climate policies. On the second day, Research Ministers will assess progress on the Innovation Union flagship initiative, part of the Europe 2020 growth agenda. The discussions will prepare the ground for debates on these topics that are expected to be held at the European Council in October.
Thursday, 26 September
Supporting SME competitiveness in Europe: Contribution to the preparation of the European Council of 24-25 October 2013
In view of the European Council of 24-25 October 2013, industry Ministers will hold a political debate on how to best support competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the growth engine of the European economy. The debate marks the five-year anniversary of the Small Business Act (SBA), a comprehensive SME policy framework for the EU and its Member States. Vice President Tajani and Ministers will work to give political impetus to strengthening SME policy coordination at EU level. In particular, they will discuss on how foster the work of the Network of SME Envoys and the SME agenda of the Competitiveness Council. A key objective is to ease the excessive administrative burden on SMEs, for which the Commission uses an SME Test in its impact assessments before any new legislation is proposed. VP Tajani will plead with Ministers to apply the SME test also when preparing their national laws.
The second part of the debate will focus on specific policy areas that promote growth of SMEs: the Internal Market for Services, the Digital Single Market and Innovation. The focus will be put on what concrete measures could tackle the disproportionate restrictions on service providers and consumers in both online and offline operations to utilise the huge untapped potential for economic growth for SMEs in these areas (MEMO/13/606).
Competitiveness aspects of energy and climate policies
The Ministerial lunch will be dedicated to exchanging views on the competitiveness aspects of energy and climate policies. On 27 March 2013, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper on "A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies" which launched a public consultation lasting until 2 July. The Commission received 556 replies by various Member States, other EU institutions and stakeholders expressing their views on important aspects of EU energy policy in a 2030 perspective.
The lunch will start with presentations by Frontier Economics on the Report on the Lessons Learnt from the Current Energy and Climate Framework, followed by BusinessEurope recommendations on the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy policies and by International Energy Agency. Vice-President Tajani will debate with Ministers on what could be the instruments to reinforce industrial competitiveness while promoting an energy-efficient and low carbon EU economy.
The framework conditions for competitive industry in Europe
On 26th September, the Competitiveness Council will kick off the political debate on EU industrial policy in the run-up to the February 2014 European Council on industrial competitiveness and growth, which will provide a unique opportunity to define the course for supporting economic growth and the real economy at the highest political level. Following the invitation of the June European Council, the Competitiveness Council will provide policy orientation for Council conclusions which are expected to be adopted in December.
Vice President Tajani will present the latest update on the state of Europe’s industry and competitive situation on the basis of two reports: the Report on Member States’ Competitiveness Performance and the 2013 European Competitiveness Report. He will also inform about the progress in the implementation of the Commission’s renewed industrial policy Communication adopted last October. On this basis, Vice President Tajani will invite the Member States to open a debate on concrete measures to move further and quicker towards the objective of reindustrializing Europe.
Competitive and efficient defence and security sector
In July, the Commission adopted an Action Plan to promote the competitiveness and efficiency of the defence and security sector. VP Tajani will present the key features of the plan, which intends to deepen the Internal Market by tackling market distortions and improving security of supply; strengthen competitiveness through promoting common standards, certification and networks between Europe's regions; and exploit civil / military synergies, especially in research. The September discussion will contribute to the preparations for the 2013 December European Council on Defence (IP/13/734).
Action plan for the European Steel Industry
On 11 June 2013, the Commission adopted an Action plan for the European Steel Industry to help this sector confront today’s challenges and lay the foundations for future competitiveness by fostering innovation, creating growth and jobs. Vice President Tajani will present this new political strategy for the steel sector which focus on the right regulatory framework, addressing skills needs and easing restructuring, boosting demand for steel, improving access to foreign markets, ensuring a level playing field and boosting innovation (MEMO/13/523).
Friday 27 September
Innovation Investment Package
Ministers will hold a first legislative (televised) debate on the Commission's proposal (IP/13/668) for an Innovation Investment Package. The proposal invites the Council and the European Parliament to approve five Public-Private Partnerships, called 'Joint Technology Initiatives' (JTIs), and four public-public partnerships (P2Ps) with the aim of mobilising more than €22 billion in investment in research over the next seven years. New legislative proposals are needed now to establish the initiatives under the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, which is subject to approval by the European Parliament and Council.
The five JTIs are:
• Innovative Medicines 2 (IMI2): to develop next generation vaccines, medicines and treatments, such as new antibiotics;
• Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2): to expand the use of clean and efficient technologies in transport, industry and energy;
• Clean Sky 2 (CS2): to develop cleaner, quieter aircraft with significantly less CO2 emissions;
• Bio-based Industries (BBI): to use renewable natural resources and innovative technologies for greener everyday products;
• Electronic Components and Systems (ECSEL): to boost Europe’s electronics manufacturing capabilities;
The Innovative Medicines Initiative, Clean Sky and Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTIs all currently exist, while the Electronics JTI will combine two current partnerships. The Bio-based Industries JTI is a new initiative. The proposed P2Ps include an extension of the the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, which aims to develop new drugs or treatments to tackle killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the SME research-funding programme Eurostars. Commissioner Kroes will present details of the ECSEL and the Active and Assisted Living (AAL) partnerships, which fall under her responsibility.
State of the Innovation Union
Ministers will discuss the State of the Innovation Union report adopted by the Commission on the 21 March 2013. The report noted progress towards creating a policy framework to achieve an Innovation Union, but also challenges. Member States should play their part by investing, reforming and transforming their national research and innovation systems in order for Europe to innovate its way out of the crisis and towards a better future.
As part of the debate, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will present the Innovation Output Indicator (IP/13/831) developed by the Commission at the request of the European Council. The indicator was developed at the request of EU leaders to benchmark national innovation policies, and shows that significant differences remain between EU countries. However, the EU as a whole performs well in an international comparison, even if it remains behind some key competitors.
European Research Area
Research ministers will also assess progress towards completing the European Research Area on the basis of a first monitoring report produced by the Commission [IP/13/851]. Research ministers will discuss in particular how to sustain and if possible increase public efforts in research and how to pursue the structural reforms needed to achieve ERA, notably the role of competition and performance in research funding decisions and of transnational research cooperation. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will address all these points.
Commissioner Oettinger will provide an update on the present status of the ITER project, the cornerstone of the global strategy to achieve sustainable fusion power. ITER aims to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy through a large-scale device that is constructed in Cadarache, France, under an agreement with six other parties - China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA. Upon the initiative of Commissioner Oettinger, high-level delegates from all the contributing countries met earlier this month for only the second time to review progress on the project. As the host of the facility and biggest contributor (~ 45% of the construction cost), Europe is in the driving seat to make ITER a success.