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Commission encourages competitiveness of European enterprises faced with globalisation

The European Commission has adopted a communication launching an open debate with the European Union's (EU) different political, economic and social players on the orientation of a new industrial policy with a view to addressing the challenges of globalisation and accelerated ...
The European Commission has adopted a communication launching an open debate with the European Union's (EU) different political, economic and social players on the orientation of a new industrial policy with a view to addressing the challenges of globalisation and accelerated technological changes.

The communication diagnoses European industry's weaknesses and proposes a series of measures to promote industrial competitiveness. These measures aim to:

- Reinforce intangible investment;
- Promote the access of European enterprises to the global market;
- Develop the dialogue between industry and public authorities;
- Improve financing by the elimination of institutional and regulatory barriers as well as by improving the tax regime applied to venture capital;
- Adapt the rules relating to the information society and electronic commerce.

Globalisation is seen as an opportunity for Europe to seize, not a threat.

On the initiative of Martin Bangemann and Edith Cresson, members of the European Commission charged with responsibility for industry and research respectively, the communication seeks to propose the definition of a new industrial policy to encourage the competitiveness of European enterprises in the face of globalisation.

The communication diagnoses the weaknesses of European industry:

- Europe does not have a strong presence in the business services sector;
- European enterprises resort to insufficient externalisation;
- Specialisation remains underdeveloped in sectors with high growth, highly differentiated products and requiring a strong marketing strategy;
- The European audiovisual sector is in an unfavourable competitive position;
- European enterprises form relatively few alliances in advanced technology areas;
- The amounts invested by risk capital funds are insufficiently oriented towards new and high- technology industries;
- European enterprises can access financial markets only with difficulty;
- The level of R&D spending in terms of EU GDP is still below that of its principal global economic partners;
- The exploitation of research results is not efficient enough;
- The EU suffers from high costs and the complexity of procedures for achieving intellectual property protection in Europe;
- European enterprises put very few joint research projects in place.

To counteract this situation and stimulate European competitiveness, the communication emphasises the following proposals, among others:

- Reinforce intangible investment, by adapting the systems of accrediting competencies and by improving the level of and return from research resources, especially through a better system of intellectual property protection;
- Develop human resources by acting on the educational system, by encouraging the spirit of enterprise and various forms of social innovation and social cohesion;
- Promote the access of European enterprises to the world market, by accelerating the exploitation of the competitive advantages of the Single Market;
- Promote fair rules of the game at a world level in view of the new round of WTO negotiations (that is by developing an observation system for public support to research in industrialised countries);
- Develop the dialogue between industry and public authorities and forms of self-regulation (protection of consumers and users);
- Improve financing by eliminating institutional and regulatory barriers to the development of venture capital and improving the tax regime applied to venture capital;
- Adaptation of the rules to the context of the information society and electronic commerce (agreements such as the "International Charter").

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