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Competitiveness Council

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

I will be attending the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 21 and 22 May.

The first nine items on the agenda will be taken on 21 May.

The first four substantive items on the agenda will be chaired by Michael Glos, German Minister for Economics and Technology. The first item on the agenda will be Better Regulation. The presidency have tabled a progress report, but there is unlikely to be substantial debate on this issue.

The next item on the agenda is the proposed Regulation on Mutual Recognition. The presidency have tabled a progress report. We support the objective of this regulation, but we are keen to ensure that it does not restrict the ability of national authorities to take swift action to take dangerous or harmful products off the market.

This will be followed by a progress report on two measures relating to the New Approach (technical harmonisation). The UK supports the progress that has been made so far.

The next item on the agenda is EU Industry Policy. There will be a policy debate prior to adopting Council conclusions. We are supportive of the Commission’s general stance on this issue and their emerging ideas on making the most of the competitive opportunities of tackling climate change.

The next two items on the agenda will be chaired by Brigitte Zypries, the German Minister for Justice. The next item on the agenda will be the EU Consumer Policy strategy. There will be a brief exchange of views on this issue.

The Consumer Credit Directive will be taken next. This directive is being put for political agreement. Positive steps have been made in this negotiation and we hope to reach an agreement that will bring benefits to EU consumers and lenders.

Eleven items will be taken under any other business:

(i) The Internal Market in Global Competition: Outcome of the Informal Ministerial meeting (information from the presidency.

(ii) Proposal for a directive on improving the effectiveness of review procedures concerning the award of public contracts. (Information from the presidency on the state of play)

(iii) Proposal for a directive on including aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emmission allowance trading within the Community (information from the presidency)

(iv) Proposal for a directive laying down rules on nominal quantities for pre-packed products (information from the presidency on the negotiations with the European Parliament)

(v) European Conference “Innovation and Market Access Through Standardisation” (information from the presidency)

(vi) 4th European Conference on Craft Industries (information from the presidency)

(vii) European Conference on Tourism (information from the presidency)

(viii) GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) Conference (information from the presidency)

(ix) Regulation on a Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling (information from the Commission)

(x) Impact of the proposal for a regulation on the law applicable to contractual obligation (ROME I) (requested by the Luxembourg delegation)

(xi) Information on Poland’s proposal to organize the exhibition EXPO 2012 in Wroclaw, Poland (requested by the Polish delegation)

The European Space Council and discussion on the remaining agenda items will take place on 22 May.

The European Space Council will convene in the morning and will be chaired by German State Secretary Peter Hintze and Dutch Economics Minister Maria van der Hoeven. The main item on the agenda will be the adoption of a Resolution on the European Space Programme.

The remaining items on the agenda relate to research and will be chaired by Annette Schavan, the German Research Minister. The first issue to be dealt with in this section of the Council will be the Commission proposal for the European Institute for Technology. UK broadly supports the objectives of the proposal but there remain a number of outstanding issues including budget and governance.

Following on from this there will be a presentation from the Commission on the establishment of the ARTEMIS joint undertaking to implement a joint technology initiative in embedded computer systems. This will be followed by a presentation by the Commission on a regulation setting up the innovative medicines initiatives joint undertaking. The UK supports the establishment of joint technology initiatives in principle.

This will be followed by an exchange of views on the Commission’s Green Paper “The European Research Area: New Perspectives”. The UK supports the launch of a debate on the future of the European research area.

The next item on the agenda will be on research infrastructures in the European research area (ESFRI). There will be an exchange of views followed by the adoption of Council conclusions. The UK welcomes the ESFRI road map and supports the Council conclusions.

Two research points will be taken under any other business:

(i) Euro-Med Education and Research Ministers meeting (information from the presidency)

(ii) Commission proposal on article 169 Initiatives (information from the Commission).