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Communication outlines measures to boost Europe's business services sector

The Commission published a communication on 4 December aimed at improving the performance of Europe's business related services, the largest sector of the EU economy, employing around 55 million people. In recent years, low productivity growth within business services has cau...

The Commission published a communication on 4 December aimed at improving the performance of Europe's business related services, the largest sector of the EU economy, employing around 55 million people. In recent years, low productivity growth within business services has caused concern among policymakers, and in response the communication sets out a number of measures aimed at reversing this trend and catching up with the US. One area for action highlighted is the need for greater investment and involvement in research and development (R&D). The communication calls on companies to increase their participation in the research Framework Programmes, and says that the EU's chances of achieving the three per cent target would be improved 'if this sector plays a role that better reflects its economic weight.' Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, said: 'In today's economy, services really do matter. The service sector is a major source of jobs and new businesses. If we can get the environment right for business services this will help boost productivity and competitiveness throughout the whole of the economy.' Other measures that the Commission will seek to promote within the sector include a better use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), improved statistical indicators as an aid to decision making, and more of a focus on quality and transparency in order to promote competition and customer choice. In order to implement the proposals outlined in the policy document, the Commission plans to set up a European forum on business related services. The forum will bring together representatives from EU institutions, Member States, professional organisations, workers' representatives, research institutions and other stakeholders, and will help the Commission to draft an action plan on the issue in the first half of 2005.