The EU Competitiveness Council took place in Brussels on 19 February. Anne Lambert, deputy permanent representative to the EU represented the UK. Michael Glos, German Federal Minister of Economics and Technologies, chaired the Council.
Action programme for reducing administrative burden
The first item on the agenda was a public debate on the Commission’s action plan for reducing administrative burdens. The Council endorsed the proposal for a target to reduce burdens arising from EU legislation by 25 per cent. by 2012, with member states to set targets for reducing burdens within their own administrations next year. The UK spoke in favour of an EU target and a national target, and reinforced to the Commission the importance of conducting impact assessments for its proposals.
The next item on the agenda was the Commission’s recently published communication on a modern regulatory framework for the automotive industry. The Commission stressed that an integrated approach was required to ensure that both the sustainability and competitiveness aspects were taken into account. There was initial discussion of the Commission communication and it is expected that there will be follow-up discussion at the next Competitiveness Council in May.
Key Issues Paper
The competitiveness Council agreed a key issues paper which will be put to the spring European Council in March. The key issues paper is in line with UK priorities for economic reform and concentrates on five areas of action: the completion of the internal market; better regulation and reduction of administrative burdens for enterprises; investments in research, knowledge and innovation; industrial policy and Europe’s business potential; and strengthening Europe’s external competitiveness.
Any Other Business
The Council noted information from the presidency and the Commission on the following areas:
The Commission presented its package of measures on the free movement of goods.
The Commission presented its Green Paper for the revision of the Community Acquis in the area of consumer protection.
The Commission presented the internal market scoreboard for the second half of 2006.
The presidency updated the Council on progress in negotiation of the shareholder rights directive.
Over lunch, there was a discussion of “Competitiveness, Climate Change, and Secure Energy Supplies—a Coherent Approach”. The lunch was attended by Gunter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, and Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for the Environment.