Brussels, 15 Oct 2002
Meeting informally for the first time on 11 and 12 October, the EU's Competitiveness Council agreed that the Council shall focus on the areas where the EU lags behind, notably, research and development, innovation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and completion of the internal market.
The Council believes that by focusing on these areas, it will contribute to fulfilling the Lisbon agenda of making the EU the most dynamic and competitive knowledge based economy in the world by 2010.
In order to develop a coordinated and coherent strategy for enhancing competitiveness and growth, the Competitiveness Council's agendas will be divided into two sections: horizontal issues and individual policy files. The Council also supports the idea of organising regular integrated discussions at high official level within a Council group, in order to contribute to the discussion of horizontal issues and a more medium to long term strategic approach to enhancing competitiveness and growth.
The Council agreed that European growth is, to an increasing extent, reliant upon structural reforms and the improvement of framework conditions for European citizens and businesses.
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are disproportionately affected by administrative burdens, noted the Council. For this reason, policies need to be developed with the smallest entities in mind. The Commission was invited by the Council to present its views on this issue in its simplification programme.