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EU: Competitiveness Council

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 21 November 2007

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Competitiveness (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I will be attending the EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 22 November.

The main substantive item will be an integrated approach to competitiveness covering industry policy, e-skills, SMEs, succeeding in the age of globalisation, and European competitiveness. This will comprise the presentation of communications from the Commission and the adoption of council conclusions, and will be followed by an exchange of views on all five items. The UK will argue strongly in favour of a presumption towards openness when developing the EU's external policies.

Further agenda items for which BERR is responsible are:

better regulation (progress report followed by an exchange of views). This will be an opportunity for Ministers to debate the issue of how to improve legislation coming from Europe in advance of a review by the European Commission early next year, which will look at better understanding the economic impact of regulation, better consultation, and keeping red tape to a minimum;

communication from the Commission on a simplified business environment for companies in the areas of company law, accounting and auditing (adoption of council conclusions). The UK will look to agree the text of conclusions, offering strong support for the Commission's simplification programme for company law;

communication from the Commission on enhancing the patent system in Europe (progress report followed by an exchange of views). The Portuguese presidency has laid solid foundations for further work towards a European patent court and the UK welcomes its efforts, but, as its report recognises, further work needs to be done to ensure the creation of a high quality, efficient and affordable jurisdiction which delivers clear benefits to innovative businesses in Europe;

proposal to amend the timeshare directive (progress report followed by an exchange of views). The UK is pleased with progress to date and hopes to see further progress in resolving the remaining issues; and

communication from the Commission on the agenda for sustainable and competitive European tourism (presentation by the Commission followed by adoption of council conclusions). The UK supports the Commission policy paper and conclusions, which recognise the importance of the development of tourism as a competitive economic activity, the need to balance this with environmental and social aims, and respond to the aims set out by the Lisbon agenda.

There will be nine further items taken under any other business:

review of the single market (information from the Commission);

free movement of goods (information from the presidency);

classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (information from the presidency);

events during the Portuguese presidency (information from the presidency);

the internet of things (information from the presidency);

product safety (information from the Commission);

services of general interest (information from the Commission);

trade defence instruments (information from the Commission); and

legal protection of designs (information from the presidency).

My right honourable friend the Minister for Science and Innovation (Ian Pearson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to confirm the agenda items for which DIUS is responsible, at the forthcoming EU Competitiveness Council on 23 November in Brussels. The council will be chaired by Mr Gago, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. I will be attending.

There are seven substantive agenda items:

political agreement on compromise text on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and the council establishing the European Institute of Technology (EIT), before the European Parliament Second Reading;

a possible general approach on council regulations establishing joint undertakings to implement joint technology initiatives (JTIS) for innovative medicines (IMI); aeronautics and air transport (Clean Sky); embedded computing systems (ARTEMIS) and nanoelectronics (ENIAC), with the view to move to agreement on these regulations later in the year. The UK supports the objectives of these JTIs which we see as important for engaging UK businesses in European research and would like to see them launched by the end of this year;

a possible general approach on a proposal for a European Parliament and council decision on the ambient assisted living initiative. The UK is supportive of the general aims of AAL and the Technology Strategy Board is intending to participate in the initiative;

possible adoption of council conclusions on the future of science and technology in Europe;

possible adoption of council conclusions on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation. The UK supports the conclusions subject to securing satisfactory text on pricing;

possible adoption of a council resolution on modernising universities for Europe's competitiveness in a global knowledge economy; and

possible adoption of draft council conclusions on the implementation of the nanosciences and nanotechnologies action plan for Europe. The UK supports the conclusions.

There will be two further items taken under any other business:

proposal for a European Parliament and council decision for a joint national research programme (Article 169 of the Treaty Initiative) on research performing SMEs (EuroSTARS) (information from the presidency and the Commission on the state of play); and

proposal for a council regulation setting up the fuel cells and hydrogen joint undertaking (presentation by the Commission).