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EU: Competitiveness Council

Volume 708: debated on Wednesday 4 March 2009


My honourable friend the Economic and Business Minister, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Ian Pearson) has made the following Statement.

On 5 March I shall be representing the UK at the EU Competitiveness Council.

There will be five main items being discussed and debated at the council (as listed below), of which the two most high-profile issues to be discussed will be the crisis in the automotive industry and EU economic crisis/recovery plan, which will be discussed by Ministers over lunch.

Government aims for council

Throughout these sessions the Government’s aim will be to:

emphasise that a fully functioning open and liberalised single market can be an aid to economic recovery rather than detrimental;

highlight the need to avoid creating barriers and distortions in responses to the downturn and the need to avoid undermining the internal market, and avoid protectionist measures in the car sector and more generally;

stress that we must not forget the aim of moving to a low-carbon economy, and EIB funds must be there to support all parts of the automotive industry to lower carbon emissions; and

explore with other member states what more the EU can do to stabilise financial markets, stimulate our economies and enable families, workers and businesses to get through the downturn and on track for a sustainable path to recovery and growth.

The morning and lunch sessions will cover:

exchange of views and adoption of council conclusions on follow-up to the single market review; and

a debate on the Lisbon strategy and the Lisbon policy exercise 2009—key issues paper of the Competitiveness Council to the spring European Council with the aim of final adoption of paper.

Lunchtime discussion on economic crisis and recovery

Discussion points for the lunch have not been finalised and may be subject to change before 5 March but we understand that possible issues for discussion will include:

further discussion on the Commission’s economic recovery package;

car industry access to framework programme 7 funding; and

role/use of EIB funding.

The afternoon session will cover:

an exchange of views with the aim of adopting council conclusions on the crisis in the automotive industry; and

a progress report on better regulation.

Any Other Business

In addition to the main council items, there will be eight further items taken under Any Other Business, all of which fall under BERR’s responsibilities:

information from the presidency and Commission on forum on services and trade liberalisation (Prague, 2 and 3 February 2009);

Commission update on services directive and state of play of implementation process;

presentation by the Commission on internal market scoreboard no 18;

Commission presentation on communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: monitoring consumer outcomes in the single market—second edition of the consumer markets scoreboard;

information from the presidency on five years after Prague: impact of enlargement in the European economies;

information from the Commission on Transatlantic Economic Council;

presentation by the Commission communication on the external dimension of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: reporting on market access and setting the framework for more effective international regulatory co-operation; and

Commission overview of implementation of the SBA action plan at a Community and member state level.