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EU Competitiveness Council

Volume 602: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2015

The EU Competitiveness Council will take place on Monday 30 November and Tuesday 1 December. Baroness Neville-Rolfe and I are currently to represent the UK on day one—industry and internal market—with the deputy permanent representative Shan Morgan representing the UK on day two—research, innovation and space.

There are no legislative items on the agenda for this Council.

Day One

The first item will be a “competitiveness check-up,” during which the Commission will set out the latest economic data related to competitiveness, and the Luxembourg presidency will present its assessment of which Commission proposals impact on competitiveness. Then there will be a presentation by the Commission on the single market strategy in goods and services, which was released last month. This will be followed by a policy debate.

The afternoon session will start with a brief report on the outcome of the lunch discussion on better regulation. This will be followed by a presentation by the Commission and exchange of views on the Commission’s recommendation for the establishment of National Competitiveness Boards within the euro area.

The agenda items under any other business are a presentation by the Commission on the state of play on real driving emissions and the manipulation of emission control system in cars; a presentation by the Commission summarising the activities of the SME Envoy network from 2015; and a discussion on stricter firearms control. The Council will end with a presentation by the Dutch delegation on priorities for their EU presidency which will begin on 1 January 2016.

Our main objectives on the internal market and industry day are to:

Ensure that proposals brought forward in the single market strategy, in particular on priority areas such as the services passport, are implemented quickly and with the necessary level of ambition; and

Encourage as many like-minded member states as possible to support us in pressing the Commission to bring forward proposals for EU burden reduction targets.

Day Two

The research day will see three sets of draft Council conclusions on: research integrity; advancing gender equality in the European Research Area (ERA); and the advisory structure of the ERA. There will be an exchange of views on potential of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) to stimulate research and innovation in Europe. There will also be a lunchtime discussion on bringing the higher education and research areas closer together.

There are five any other business items being discussed. The first four are information from the Commission on: the Retirement Savings Vehicle for European Research Institutions (RESAVER); the “Science4Refugees” initiative; Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Bioeconomy—A challenge for Europe, SCAR Foresight Exercise; and a report on the state of the Energy Union.

The meeting will end with a presentation by the Dutch delegation on the priorities for their upcoming EU presidency.

Our objective for the research day is to support the balance achieved in the work on research integrity, advancing gender equality and the advisory structure of the ERA, and to participate positively in the exchange of views on EFSI. ERA in particular has had significant UK input and we have consistently supported Commissioner Moedas on taking forward EFSI in the area of research and innovation.