UNICE calls for decisive action from Competitiveness Council

May 13, 2003

Brussels, 12 May 2003

The union of industrial and employers' confederations of Europe (UNICE) has written to the current chair of the EU Competitiveness Council, Apostolos Tsohatzopoulos, urging the rapid implementation of policies aimed at achieving the three per cent objective by 2010.

The Competitiveness Council, due to meet in Brussels on 13 May, will discuss, among other issues, the Commission's action plan 'investing in research: an action plan for Europe'. The plan sets out measures for increasing Europe's investment in research to three per cent of GDP by 2010 - a goal set at the Barcelona Spring Council in 2002. This is also expected to contribute to the Lisbon goal of making Europe the most competitive economy in the world by 2010.

'UNICE attaches high importance to the objective set up at the Barcelona Summit to increase R&D [research and development] spending to three per cent of European GDP by 2010. An environment must be established that makes it more attractive for industry to invest in R&D in the EU,' states the UNICE position paper.

The union welcomes, in particular, measures aimed at developing more coherence between Member States with regards to R&D, increasing public spending on research, extending fiscal measures to encourage private investment and revising State aid rules for R&D.

While the position paper welcomes the Commission's recent proposal to revise block exemption for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), describing it as 'a good signal in principle', UNICE would also like to see similar measures for industry as a whole.

UNICE also calls on Member State governments to grant the ministries represented in the Council with sufficient competences at national level to follow through on agreements made at the Council.

In addition to the three per cent action plan, ministers are also expected to discuss innovation policy. The Council will invite Member States and the Commission to intensify their cooperation and to create a framework of common objectives for strengthening innovation in the EU

Also on the agenda for 13 May is the development of a European space policy, the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER), the Go Digital initiative and life sciences and biotechnology. The Council will be presented with a progress report on biotechnology presented by the Commission to this year's Spring Council, and will comment on the progress made thus far with regard to the development of a biotechnology policy in Europe.

For further information on the UNICE position paper, please visit:
http://www.unice.org

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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