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The improved competitiveness and good functioning of the single market are imperative for a successful green transition

At the meeting of the Competitiveness Council held on 29 September 2021, the ministers responsible for industry and the internal market discussed the impact of the “Fit for 55” package on the competitiveness of EU industry, and the importance of better regulation for the competitiveness of the European Union and the functioning of the single market.

From left to right: Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ (European Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight), Boštjan KORITNIK (Minister of Public Administration, Slovenia), Zdravko POČIVALŠEK (Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Slovenia)

From left to right: Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ (European Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight), Boštjan KORITNIK (Minister of Public Administration, Slovenia), Zdravko POČIVALŠEK (Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Slovenia) | Author European Union

At the start of the discussion on the industrial strategy and the impact of the "Fit for 55" package, the Council Chair, Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, stressed that we must understand and anticipate the effects of the package on EU industry if we are to maintain and strengthen the international competitiveness of the EU economy. Our task is to ensure that industry and the economy make the most of the opportunities provided by the transition to climate neutrality. 

The ministers of EU member states highlighted that the transition to climate neutrality would need to take into account the national specifics. They advocated favourable framework conditions for industry in the transition and a consistent and predictable regulative environment. They agreed that affordable decarbonised electricity will be a prerequisite for the success of the package and of the green transition for the EU economy as a whole.

The ministers consider one of the greatest challenges to be the revision of the emissions trading system.  They called for a targeted and fair burden-sharing mechanism to mitigate the impact of the transition.  They stressed the need to include industry in developing appropriate ways to achieve the transition and cost-effective measures.

Minister Počivalšek concluded the discussion with the following words: "I am pleased that the member states unanimously agree that the Competitiveness Council should be regularly informed of the progress of the negotiations on the "Fit for 55" package. The Council should also closely follow the negotiations on the package in view of its impact on industry. This is the only way to ensure that the agreed measures are proportionate and supportive.

At the meeting, there was also a discussion on the European Commission's Better Regulation Communication, which was chaired by Minister of Public Administration Boštjan Koritnik.  On 29 April 2021, the Commission adopted the Better Regulation Communication. This is an important step towards improving legislation that ensures consumer protection, promotes innovation in industry and strengthens the EU's resilience and competitiveness. To facilitate the recovery and speed up the transition to a green and digital society, the Commission is taking these measures to improve the process of public involvement in legislative proposals, reduce bureaucratic burdens and improve the quality of the impact assessments of legislative proposals.

Minister Koritnik believes that better legislation and de-bureacratisation are crucial to faster recovery in Europe, the promotion of competitiveness and growth and a well-functioning single market. "The laws we adopt today will affect citizens and businesses in the future, which makes it all the more important that the drafting of legislation is transparent and inclusive, and that political decisions are based on sound evidence, including impact assessments of proposed legislation. I am pleased that the first debate on this issue at the political level has taken place during the Slovenian Presidency," said the Slovenian Minister of Public Administration.

The Council took note of the annual report of the Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET) for the first year of its operation in the 2020–2021 period. The Commission has welcomed the fact that the Task Force has contributed to restoring the functioning of the Single Market during the COVID-19 crisis, stressing the need for political guidance and support from the Council to make the Task Force's work even more effective.

At the meeting, the Slovenian Presidency also highlighted the situation regarding the Unified Patent Court, as given the progress made in the last year and considering that Germany and Slovenia have completed the procedures, we are only one step away from the entry into force of the preparatory procedures for the operation of the Court. The ratification of the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the Unified Patent Court Agreement by just one more member state is needed to make the unitary patent operational.