In the context of the Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union, May 3rd, Bucharest, at the Palace of Parliament, an informal meeting of ministers responsible with Competitiveness and Growth took place.
The event, which was presided by the Romanian Minister of Economy, Niculae Bădălău, reunited dignitaries from EU member states, as well as representatives of SME United (The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises), of Business Europe (The Confederation of European Business), of the Committee of the Regions from AELS member states (The European Free Trade Association). A particularity of the informal meeting of the COMPET Council which took place in Bucharest was that the ministers from member states were each joined by a successful entrepreneur. The European entrepreneurs have had the opportunity to take part in an event aimed at creating new connections, on the evening of May 2nd, while on May 3rd they held a parallel work meeting with ministers responsible for competitiveness and growth, in which they debated ways through which Europe can become more connected through entrepreneurship.
The meeting of EU ministers included two themed sessions of great interest on the European agenda both for authorities and for businesses, the first being dedicated to the contribution of entrepreneurship, SMEs, startups, and scaleups, to the general competitivity of the EU. The second session was centered on the integrated approach of the Single Market in support of the industry and for better implementation and compliance of the legislative framework. The working lunch of the dignitaries was dedicated to the European energy-intensive industries’ roadmap.
During the first debating session, COMPET Ministers asked for the consolidation of efforts and fast implementation of political priorities regarding the digitalization of the industry, with special focus on the support offered to initiatives such as Centers for Digital Innovation and other initiatives from the European platform for the digitalization of the industrial sector that support SMEs in their digital transformation. At the same time, the ministers encouraged startups and scaleups, SMEs and innovating companies to contribute and take advantage of the development and large-scale use of Artificial Intelligence in the economy.
“SMEs represent the backbone of the European economy, with over 24 million SMEs that hire over 90 million people. At present, over 85% of the new jobs created in the last five years were created by SMEs, while SMEs make up 67% of the total employment in the non-financial sector in the EU. For the Romanian Presidency, the identification of the most adequate solutions that will lead to the growth and development of the competitiveness of the European economy is a top priority. At the same time, I would like to emphasize the importance of the development of clusters and the integration of SMEs in the European and international value chains for the competitiveness of the EU”, declared Niculae Bădălau, Romanian Minister of Economy.
During the second session, the COMPET Ministers discussed the Single Market, more specifically the ways that they consider the most adequate for improving the compliance and implementation of the Single Market rules to support the competitiveness of European companies on the world stage. The dignitaries present in Bucharest have reiterated that a powerful, deeper, and functional Single Market, represents the cornerstone for the integrated, sustainable, and competitive industrial base of the EU and contributes to its success on the global stage. The Single Market facilitates the integration and development of value chains contributing to the presence of the industrial sector and its associated services in the EU in the long term. In this way, the Single Market is crucial for SMEs, while offering them opportunities for development, integration in the value chains, where it is necessary, and for expansion.
“In more than 25 years the Single Market has proved that it represents Europe’s biggest advantage in generating growth and innovation, attracting investments and stimulating the competitiveness of European companies in a globalized world. At the same time, the benefits are clear for citizens. The adoption of the Rules for supervision of the market and conformity of products is a major step in the consolidation of the protection offered to European consumers, especially in the context of new dangers and risks to which they are subjected, considering the wide access of non-conforming products on the Single Market, due to the massive increase in online sales. In this context, I would like to stress the importance of harmonized standards and procedures for evaluating conformity in order to have products that are certified and up to standards in the Single Market”, explained the Minister of Economy, Niculae Bădălău.
During the debate at the working lunch, the COMPET Ministers have emphasized the role of energy-intensive industries for the competitiveness of the European economy and that these sectors are important facilitators for clean technologies, thus playing an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at EU and world level. Energy-intensive industries are significantly influenced by climate and energy policies, which stresses the strong interdependence between industrial policy and energy/climate policy. The ministers responsible for competitiveness and growth have also discussed the necessity for European policies to be convergent and to ensure trust in the long term, allowing the industrial sector to prepare significant investment in clean technologies so that innovation and investment take place in Europe with priority.
At the end of the informal meeting of the COMPET Council, Minister Niculae Bădălău declared: “I have complete confidence in the fact that the talks held in Bucharest will bring significant contributions in the preparation and adoption of the next strategic agenda of the EU. Entrepreneurship, the Single Market and competitiveness of the European industrial sector represent the three essential pillars for the development of the European economy and for the insurance of the EU’s prosperity and the wellbeing of its citizens.”