Federal Minister Altmaier chairs informal video conference of EU ministers responsible for competitiveness

Federal Minister Altmaier chairs informal video conference of EU ministers responsible for competitiveness

© BMWi/Susanne Eriksson

The ministers responsible for competitiveness in the EU Member States will join together today for an informal video conference. As part of the German Council Presidency, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier has invited his counterparts from the EU and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland to discuss the role of the industrial sector as a driver for economic growth and recovery in the EU. The conference will also focus on the need for fair competition in order for the industrial sector in the EU to flourish. Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, and EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton will also take part.

Minister Altmaier said: “We will continue to need a strong European industrial sector with secure jobs in order to ensure growth and prosperity. This applies all the more in the current coronavirus crisis, which we will only be able to tackle successfully if we work together. We need a strong and united Europe in order to overcome this crisis. At the same time, we must set the course for the future. That is why we are using today to discuss how we can meet the structural challenges of digitisation and climate change and ensure that the industrial sector fully harnesses the opportunities offered by the upcoming transformation. The key question is how we can foster greater investment in digital and climate-friendly innovations in the EU.”

At today's meeting, the ministers will exchange views on how industrial policy can create the right framework conditions for innovation in Europe in order to secure the competitiveness of the industrial sector in the long term. The industrial sector is key to making the green and digital transition a success. The ministers will discuss today what measures and reforms should be implemented in order to work alongside the private sector to strengthen investment in the development, commercialisation and broad application of innovations. A key instrument for this purpose is the use of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs).

Another issue being discussed today is ensuring a level playing field in the single market, i.e. fair competitive conditions for all companies. This topic is being raised on account of the distortions of competition in the single market resulting from the fact that non-European competitors are partly state-owned or receive substantial subsidies, while state aid controls on EU companies strictly limit such support from the state. The European Commission put forward proposals for a new instrument on this issue in June this year, which will be discussed today for the first time at ministerial level.