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Competitiveness Council

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 24 November 2016

The Competitiveness Council is taking place in Brussels on 28-29 November. Baroness Neville-Rolfe will be representing the UK on 28 November (internal market and industry). I am expecting to represent the UK on 29 November (research and innovation).

Britain will in due course be leaving the EU. While we remain a member of the EU we will continue to participate in Competitiveness Council discussions and vote on legislative proposals, in line with our rights and obligations as a member state.

The Slovak presidency has yet to finalise the agenda for the Council. However we expect the following items to be discussed:

Day One

The Commission will be seeking a general approach on a proposed regulation to address geo-blocking and other forms of nationality-based discrimination. The UK will support the Commission’s initiative to end unjustified discrimination against consumers. There will also be a first reading of legislation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and trailers, enforcement of consumer protection laws, and three legislative proposals on copyright in the digital single market.

There will be a discussion on skills as part of the regular competitiveness ‘check-up’ which will be followed by an exchange of views; a stock-take on the single market strategy; and an exchange of views on the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC).

We expect a number of items to be presented to the Council for information including a notice from the Commission on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions; the SME Envoy’s report; and a report from the Slovak presidency on the outcome of the conference ‘Collaborative Economy’ held in Brussels on 15 November.

The Hungarian delegation will present information on the competitiveness aspects of the European pillar of social rights. The German delegation has asked to present information on the significance of industrial policy in the Commission’s 2017 work programme.

Finally, the Maltese presidency will present information on its work programme.

Day Two

The Commission will present the space strategy for Europe. The strategy is a good fit to UK priorities for growing the space sector and the UK will be supportive.

The UK will support the draft Council conclusions on early stage researchers, which recognise the importance to Europe’s future global competitiveness of nurturing the next generation of researchers and scientists.

The final substantive agenda item is the Commission’s report on the implementation of the strategy for international co-operation in research and innovation. The UK has been actively engaged in promoting the important role of scientific diplomacy in this context and is encouraged to see this agenda progressing.

AOB items will include: presentations on open science; the quantum technologies flagship; information from the presidency on the high level conference on European bio-economy held in Bratislava on 17 October; and information from the Portuguese delegation on the development of a European infrastructure to promote north-south co-operation.

The day will conclude with information from the Maltese delegation on the work programme of the incoming presidency.