Contribution to the Spring European Council (Extract from: Results of the Competitiveness Council, 11 March)

March 15, 2004

Brussels, 12th March 2004

The Council adopted its contribution to the Spring European Council, which will review progress on the Lisbon strategy of economic, social and environmental renewal. This was the last contribution from a sectoral Council to the Summit. Council highlighted the importance on strengthening competitiveness within Europe, the role which the Competition Council should play in that process and the priority which they hope will be attached to competitiveness in the next European Commission.

Among the issues stressed in the Contribution were:

    the need to pursue an integrated approach to ensure coherence across all Community activities which would impact business and industry;

    the importance of impact assessment;

    the need for further simplification of Community and national legislation on the basis of the rolling simplification programme launched by the Commission in 2003

The Council set itself deadlines for agreement by the end of 2004 on the proposals on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and on unfair commercial practices and attached priority to making progress on the proposed Services Directive. It also called once again on Member States to improve their performance in relation to the transposition and effective implementation of internal market legislation.

The Contribution also highlighted the importance of meeting industrial challenges and supporting entrepreneurship, as well as continuing analysis of the risks of de-industrialisation and de-localisation and the challenges facing sectors with a strong research base, such as pharmaceuticals. Meeting these challenges means reducing Europe's productivity gap and supporting the uptake of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It also means supporting the development of new technologies and industries, for example in the environmental field.

Finally, the Council recognised the importance of progressing towards the 3% of GDP investment target for research and promoting innovation, including through practical action for example on researcher mobility, career structures and promoting research excellence and through the development of technology platforms.

Commissioner Liikanen said "The Competitiveness Council has identified key challenges which Europe must address if it is serious about putting competitiveness centre stage. We this focused contribution should help to identify priorities at the upcoming Spring Summit, but we will now need action from both Council and the Member States to show that they are willing and able to live up to these recommendations."

DN: MEMO/04/58 Date: 12/03/2004

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