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Results of Industry Council of 6-7 November 1995

The Council of Industry Ministers met on 6-7 November 1995 in Brussels. The Commission was represented by Messrs. Martin Bangemann (Industry), Karel Van Miert (Competition), and Christos Papoutsis (SMEs). On the subject of industrial competitiveness, the Council discussed the...

The Council of Industry Ministers met on 6-7 November 1995 in Brussels. The Commission was represented by Messrs. Martin Bangemann (Industry), Karel Van Miert (Competition), and Christos Papoutsis (SMEs). On the subject of industrial competitiveness, the Council discussed the following issues: - Adoption of a Resolution on Business Services and Industrial Competitiveness: In its Resolution, the Council asked the Commission to prepare a Communication on business services (services specifically provided for enterprises including professional, technical and operational services), including an analysis into the desirability of devising a specific policy for business services in the EU; - Implementation of the Community Action Programme for the Competitiveness of European Industry: As the European Parliament transmitted its position on this proposal only a few days ago, the Council was not able to adopt its Decision implementing a Community Action Programme for the Competitiveness of European Industry. The Decision, which will have to be prepared by the COREPER, will allow for the allocation of funds (ECU 5 million) for measures specifically aimed at improving the competitiveness of industry in Europe; - Industrial Aspects of the Information Society: Following discussions at the informal Industry Council of Bilbao, on 7 July 1995, the Council adopted a Resolution asking the Commission to: - Develop further its policy and programmes aimed at the promotion of information technology and services; - Assess the effect of information technology and services on the competitiveness of different sectors of industry, especially within the framework of the liberalization effort in the telecommunications industry; - Continue its earlier initiatives aimed at improving the dissemination of information and the pilot projects on European and national level; - Examine the potential for reinforcing cooperation between enterprises, especially between SME's, and the harmonization effort. On the subject of industrial cooperation with other Economic Regions and Third Countries, the Council adopted a Resolution emphasizing the need to reinforce and to reorientate industrial cooperation with third countries and other regions. In particular, the Commission was asked to inform the Council on the industrial cooperation with the CEEC and to prepare the following: - A Communication on industrial cooperation with other regions and third countries, covering all aspects of industrial cooperation with the various geographical areas; - A Communication specifically directed at industrial cooperation with the Mediterranean countries, to be considered as a follow-up of the Barcelona conference scheduled for 27-28th November 1995. The aim of this Communication is to arrive at a common method for the realization of future industrial investment and infrastructure projects, of interest to both the EU and its Mediterranean partners. In order to prepare a common strategy for industrial cooperation, a conference of EU Industry Ministers and their counterparts in the Mediterranean countries is scheduled for early 1996. In the area of competitiveness of the European mechanical engineering industry, the Council adopted a Resolution aimed at strengthening the EU's mechanical engineering industry. The Resolution calls upon EU Member States to pursue a steady macro-economic policy, to strive for economic convergence, to encourage investment and R&D, improve training and support initiatives for cooperation, and to ensure the correct application of EU regulations in the area of mechanical engineering. Noting the essential role played by SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) in the mechanical industry sector in Europe, the Council calls for a further build up of a secondary risk capital market, and for the Member States to pay specific attention to SMEs in their national policy measures applicable to the machinery industry. As for industry, the Resolution calls for it to step up its cooperation efforts, between companies both within and outside the EU, to increase its investment in R&D, in quality promotion and lean manufacturing, and to expand its presence on markets with long term growth potential. It also calls on the service sector, including banks and insurance companies, to improve its service to engineering companies. With reference to the European Quality Week, which took place on 6 November 1995, Mr Bangemann presented the Commission's plans for a European policy aimed at the promotion of quality. The Commission's aim is to identify quality as an instrument to both strengthen industrial competitiveness and to encourage employment. The Commission attaches great importance to quality management, as studies carried out on its behalf have revealed that it could result in a gain of 6.2% in terms of industrial productivity. With regard to Industry and Research, Commissioner Bangemann provided the Council with an update of the work of the different task forces, set up as a common initiative with Commissioners Cresson (Research) and Kinnock (Transport). The aim of the initiative is to reduce dispersion and concentrate on topics deemed to be crucial for the future competitiveness of European industry. In addition to an overview of the state of play, Mr. Bangemann's presentation was aimed at additional financing of the following subjects: - Multimedia educational software; - New generation aircraft; - Car of tomorrow; - Intermodality and interoperability. - Environmental technologies, focusing on water and nuclear safety. The work of the task forces is still at a preliminary stage. They will define their programmes after discussions with the industry before the end of this year. The Commission aims to present to the Council a report on these programmes in the first month of 1996.