EU Competitiveness Council calls for better business environment in Europe


2013 12 03


During the first day meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council on 2 December, the EU internal market and industry ministers emphasized the importance of better enforcement of the Single Market rules that can contribute to competitiveness in Europe.

‘During the Lithuanian Presidency significant progress was made on a range of important issues. Today we have confirmed the Council General Approaches on the proposal for a directive on the electronic invoicing in public procurement and the proposal for a directive on actions for damages infringements of the competition law. Both directives are very important for EU competitiveness’, – said Minister of Economy of Lithuania Evaldas Gustas, who chaired the first day of the Competitiveness Council.

According to the Minister, successful implementation of the directive and the adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement across the EU could generate savings of funds allocated for public procurement of up to €2.3 billion and will improve the functioning of the Internal Market. The directive on actions for damages for infringements of the competition law aims to create common EU rules to enable victims of cartels (both, consumers and companies) to receive a full compensation for damages caused by members of cartels.

Ministers held a policy debate on how to improve of business environment in the EU and adopted Council conclusions on the European Industrial Policy, Single Market Policy and Smart Regulation.

According to the Minister, the Council conclusions on improvement of the business environment in Europe, especially for SMEs, feature a major priority topic for the Lithuanian Presidency, and will provide a significant input to the European Semester 2014 and the upcoming European Council meetings.

‘The Council conclusions on the Single Market Policy define concrete actions for strengthening of the EU Single Market. Monitoring of the implementation of the Internal Market rules must be constantly reinforced through the specific recommendations to individual countries, especially in those cases, where the Internal Market rules really affect the structural reforms, e.g., the third energy package or the Services Directive. This is a strong political signal from the Council’, – said Gustas.

The Council made its commitment for improvement of the Points of Single Contact for businesses, using the agreed benchmarks, subject to the deadline of end 2014. Similarly it has set the deadlines for removal of unjustified or disproportionate restrictions on service providers.

The Council conclusions on Smart Regulation call on the Commission to identify and prioritize, in cooperation with stakeholders, the areas where the regulatory burden is the most considerable and to develop a roadmap for the next 5 years to reduce the overall regulatory burden.

The Council conclusions on the European Industrial Policy stress the need for stable and predictable competitive framework for the European industry that enhances productivity growth in manufacturing and services. The Member States emphasize the importance of removal of the remaining unjustified and disproportionate barriers to the Internal Market, uninterrupted energy supply at an affordable price and the completion of the Internal Energy Market by 2014, public and private investment mobilization in support of the SMEs and appropriate framework conditions fostering technological and non-technological innovation.

Ministers also exchanged views on what are the most important measures for strengthening the competitiveness of Europe’s defense sector. Discussions focused on the appropriate framework and actions to develop a competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, facilitate SMEs access to defence markets in other Member States and improve civil and military synergies to support innovation, competitiveness, growth and jobs.

Tomorrow, on 3 December, Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis will chair the research part of the EU Competitiveness Council.