Council discusses Europe’s industrial competitiveness

Meeting in Brussels on 25 and 26 September, ministers in charge of competitiveness looked at ways of strengthening industry in the EU and discussed the forthcoming review of Europe’s 2020 strategy, which is the EU’s 10-year plan for growth and competitiveness.

Industrial competitiveness
Ministers held a policy debate on the mainstreaming of industrial competitiveness, which is a process that aims to ensure that EU policies have a positive impact on industry in Europe.

The debate was structured around three issues:

  • challenges to Europe’s industrial competitiveness and ways of overcoming them
  • ways of mainstreaming industrial competitiveness in other policy areas
  • ways of improving the management and monitoring of structural reforms to boost Europe’s competitiveness

Following the debate, ministers adopted conclusions in which they asked the European Commission to focus its future work on initiatives that boost competitiveness and innovation and reduce red tape and regulatory burdens for businesses in Europe.

They also underlined the importance of making more effective use of impact assessments, which are documents that assess potential consequences of EU initiatives proposed by the Commission. The conclusions state that these assessments should duly evaluate the impact of each initiative on industrial competitiveness and allow all relevant stakeholders to have their say before draft legislation is presented.

Conclusions on the mainstreaming of industrial competitiveness

Europe 2020 strategy
The Council also held a debate on the forthcoming review of Europe’s 2020 strategy. The strategy, which was launched in 2010, aims to boost economic growth, create jobs and promote social inclusion.

Many ministers see the approaching review of the strategy as an opportunity to support economic recovery and boost industrial competitiveness and growth. When re-launching the strategy, they want to concentrate on two objectives related to competitiveness:

  • better alignment of financial markets and the real economy
  • better economic governance, with greater focus on priorities related to the EU’s single market and industrial competitiveness

In the context of the review of the strategy ministers also discussed ways of investing in research and innovation to boost growth.

The Italian presidency intends to review the implementation of the strategy by holding discussions in various Council configurations over the coming months. The results of these discussions will feed into a report that will be presented to EU leaders in December.

The report will give the European Commission guidance on improving the strategy’s implementation.

The Commission launched a public consultation on the review of the strategy in May and is expected to make specific proposals in early 2015.

Other topics on the agenda European Research Area
Ministers exchanged views on the development of the single market for research, or the European Research Area (ERA). The discussion was based on the Commission’s recent report that analyses progress made towards the completion of the ERA.

Other topics discussed during the Council meeting included:

  • a joint programme for research and innovation in the Mediterranean region (the PRIMA initiative)
  • an investment plan for Europe
  • implementation of the unitary patent protection system


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