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Improving conditions to European industry and SMEs – at the top of the Competitiveness Council agenda during Lithuanian Presidency

Date

2013 09 26

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During the first day meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council on September 26, the EU internal market and industry ministers emphasized the importance of well-functioning Internal Market for Services, the Digital Single Market and innovation for growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU. The Ministers debated on a number of important topics of competitiveness in Europe. 
 
‘There is still a huge untapped potential for economic growth in SMEs. Therefore, the Member States stressed the need for a stronger link between implementation of the Small Business Act (SBA) principles, digital economy and opening of services markets’, - said Minister of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania Evaldas Gustas who was chairing the first day of the Competitiveness Council.
 
According to the Minister, SMEs are still facing disproportionally high compliance costs due to various burdensome regulations and administrative procedures. “Actions relating to the Digital Single Market should go hand in hand with strengthening the implementation of the Small Business Act, annually prioritizing of the SBA principles to improve the business environment for SMEs in general. There is also a clear need to strengthen reform efforts within the current scope of the Services Directive”, said Minister Gustas, commenting on the Ministerial debate on the issue. The Lithuanian Presidency will present the ideas expressed by the Member States on ways to increase the competitiveness of the SMEs as Council’s contribution to the upcoming October European Council.
 
On the topic of industry competitiveness the EU ministers agreed that the implementation of the industrial policy is one of flagship initiatives of the strategy ‘Europe 2020’ and needs to be carried on and intensified. The Competitiveness Council should put forward recommendations for the February 2014 European Council on a range of issues affecting industrial competitiveness such as innovation, measures to facilitate access to finance and improved market conditions.

The Ministers also exchanged views on what are the most important measures for strengthening the competitiveness of Europe’s defense sector and what actions should be taken to best facilitate industrial co-operation between the Member States.
 
In the debate on competitiveness aspects of energy and climate policies the Ministers noted that the industry, energy and climate change policies must be consistent. They also highlighted problems of the EU energy market fragmentation, energy prices for industry and security of supply.
 
According to the Minister of Economy, the outcome of debate will contribute significantly to the October European Council and will make a positive input for the preparation of the December Competitiveness Council’s conclusions.
 
Tomorrow, on 27 September, Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis will chair the second day meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council.