Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

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1


Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Opening Statement by Mr
John Murphy, Secretary General, Department of Jobs,
Enterprise and Innovation to
the Joint Committee on
(i)
the
Six Monthly Report
(Period July 2012 to December 2012) to the Oireachtas under Section 2(5) of the
European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002 and (ii) EU Presidency outcomes

Thank you

Chairman and Committee
Members for this opportuni
ty
to di
scuss the
Department’s Six Monthly

Report

to the Oireachtas on EU Developments and also our EU
Presidency outcomes and achievements.


I am joined here today by my colleagues
Mr Philip Kelly, Assistant Secretary Corporate
Services, EU Affairs and Tr
ade Policy and Mr Tommy Murray, Principal Officer, EU Affairs
and Internal Market, Mr Gerry Monks, Principal Officer, Trade Unit, Mr Pat Kelly Assistant
Principal Officer, Office of Science and Technology and Mr Paul Cullen, Principal Officer,
Labour Affai
rs Unit.

Introductory remarks

Firstly, I wish to, for the record, acknowledge and comment on the Department’s significant
contribution to the recent successful EU Presidency. There were many notable achievements
under the remit of the Department of Jobs,
Enterprise and Innovation in the jobs, enterprise,
trade, competitiveness and innovation area. Chiefly amongst these, for example, was the
consensus by

EU Trade Ministers on the mandate to
enable the Commission to begin

talks on
an

EU
-
US

Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership,

the
agreement on the new

€70 Billion research and development Programme
, Horizon 2020
,
the agreement on the

Accounting Directive,

the signing of the a
greement on a
Unified Patent Court

by
25
participating Member States

as
well as the agreement on the Commissions new
State Aid
modernisation proposals
.


I will come back to these and the other important Presidency outcomes in more detail but
suffice to say that overall the Irish Presidency has delivered significant long
-
term

policy
objectives and concluded agreements on numerous decisions which will be vital for Europe’s
future. We should be proud of the reputational benefits flowing from what has been an
efficient, effective and value
-
added Presidency for Ireland and Europe.

For reference
purposes, I have attached a comprehensive note
(
as an Appendix
)

for the Committee on the
Department’s outcomes and achievements.

2


Six Monthly
Report

July 2012 to December 2012 Cypriot Presidency

I propose to focus first on the key
legislative and policy developments that occurred in the
various EU Council formations during the six month period, July to December 2012.

The Report covers three Councils that fall within the remit of the Department, the
Competitiveness Council, the Emplo
yment Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Council (also known as EPSCO) and the Trade Council.

In relation to matters under the EPSCO Council, while the Department of Jobs, Enterprise
and Innovation is the lead coordinator, it should be noted that t
he Departments of Social
Protection and Education and Science take the lead responsibility for matters in their
respective social, youth and skills policy areas covered under this Council.

Furthermore, i
t is important to note that the Competitiveness Counc
il has a broad cross
cutting remit which covers the Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space. Whilst
the
Department takes the lead on this Council, given the wide sectoral issues involved
,

a
significant
number of
files fall under the remit of other De
partments.
During the period of
this Report the Council met on three occasions
(twice formally)
under the
Cypriot
Presidency.
A number
of the dossiers discussed at the Councils during th
e

period

under
review

are ongoing
while many were finalised during ou
r term of the EU Presidency.

I will now address the specific areas that were covered in our Six Monthly report through
each of the Council formations commencing with the Competitiveness Council:

Competitiveness Council

(
Internal Market and Industry

Ministers)

Single Market Act
I

and Single Market Act II

The October Council
examined the state of play of the twelve measures contained in Single
Market Act I and hel
d a debate on the way forward.
Ministers
also
welcomed the second
wave of th
e

new
twelve
priority proposals presented by the
Commission under Single Market
Act II and Council Conclusions were adopted.


Resolution System for Consumer Disputes

On the

issue of consumer protection, the Cypr
iot

Presidency successfully concluded
discussions w
ith the European Parliament on the proposals relating to alternative dispute
resolution
(ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR).


3


European Industrial Policy

The Cypriot Presidency provided for
an exchange of views o
n European industrial

policy and
its c
ontribution to growth and economic recovery at the October Council. Measures in
sup
port of the construction sector and
the cultural and creative sectors we
re also considered.
In addition, Council Conclusions were adopted on key enabling technologies (KET
S).


Unitary Patent System

Following significant progress under the Cypriot Presidency, broad agreement on the Patents
Package was secured at the December Council.


Public Procurement

The December Council held a debate on the three proposals contained in
the package on the
modernisation of public procurement policy. Agreement on a general approach was reached
on all three proposals.


Professional Qualifications

In relation

to Professional Qualifications, note was taken at the December Council of a report
d
rawn up by the Presidency on the progress made regarding a draft Directive aimed at
making the system of recognition of professional qualifications more efficient.


Accounting Rules for Companies

Also at the December Council delegations noted the progress

made on the review and
simplification of the accounting rules applicable to EU companies.


State Aid

An exchange of views at the December Council on the future of state aid policy from the
point of view of industry resulted in delegations agreeing on the
need to modernise state aid
policy by setting objectives that support growth, employment and EU competitiveness.


Customs Policy

A resolution approving the launch of an EU customs action plan to combat
the
intellectual
property rights infringements for the

period 2013
-
2017 was adopted at the December
Council.

A public debate on the Commission proposal for a modernised
Union Customs Code

4


took place at the December Council with a view to facilitating a first
-
reading agreement with
the European Parliament.


C
ompetitiveness Council


(Research and Development Ministers and Space issues)

In October, t
he Council agreed on the main elements of the
rules of participation

in projects
funded under
"
Horizon 2020
",
the next research and innovation framework program
me for
the years 2014
-
2020.

It also agreed on the arrangements for incorporating the
European
Institute of Innovation and Technology

(EIT)
within

the Hor
izon 2020 programme.
The
Council held a policy debate on the next steps towards the completion and imp
lementation of
the
European Research Area

(ERA).
At the December Council
Vice President Tajani
presented the EU
-
E
uropean
S
pace
A
gency (ESA)

Communication to the Council and also
informed Ministers that the Space Industry package would be adopted in January 2013.


EPSCO COUNCIL

Europe 2020 Strategy
and European Semester

The Council held an exchange of views on economic governance in the field

of employment
and social policy within the framework of the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy.


Legislative Items under Cypr
iot
Presidency

In October

2012,
EPSCO Ministers agreed a general approach
on the E
lectromagnetic
Magnetic Fields file.
An orientation discussion on the
Enforcement of the Posting of
Workers Directive

took place at the D
ecember Council. The Proposals on the quotas for
women on boards was presented to the Council.

The Council

was also briefed
on difficulties
that had arisen
in negotiations with the European Parliament on negotiations for a Programme
for Social Change and Innovation.



TRADE COUNCIL

There was one Trade Council held during the Cypriot Presidency on the 29
th

November. The
main trade achievement was the agreement

of Ministers on an EU
-
Japan Free Trade
Agreement Negotiating Mandate.


In addition, the Cypr
iot

Presidency oversaw the conclusion of EU Free Trade Agreement
(FTA) negotiations with Singapore and progress on FTA negotiations with Canada, Vietnam,
5


India, and the Southern and Eastern neighbourhood countries.
A

decision was made to enter
into negotiations to conclude a Comprehensive and Deep Free Trade Area with Morocco,
within the context of the Euro
-
Mediterranean partnership.


Ireland’s Presidency
of the EU January 2013 to June 2013

Turning to the Irish Presidency, the
Department
played

a central role in driving the EU policy
agenda embodied in the overarching policy theme of

promoting sustainable economic

growth and jobs and building Europe’s comp
etitive advantage”.


As Presidency,

Ireland
focussed

on measures to promote growth and employment in accordance with the “
Compact
for growth and jobs


as agreed by Heads of State and Government in June 2012. The
Presidency plac
ed
a strong emphasis on advancing
proposals

that can boost the EU’s
competitive edge globally and add greatest value to jobs, growth, competitiveness and
investment
.


Within the various Council formations chaired by Ministers and officials of the Department
we also succeeded in attaining agreements on all of the significant funding Programmes
under the EU’s budget, the multi
-
annual financial framework (MFF) 2014
-
2020.

Trade

(Trade Council)

As I indicated earlier
, I supplied the Committee with a note of some o
f the Department’s
achievements and I will therefore touch lightly on some of the key highlights.
Under
Ireland’s Presidency of the EU, we attach
ed

great importance to promoting the EU’s external
trade agenda for the benefit of Irish companies and for the
wider EU economy and its
exporters. Trade is essential to job creation: 30 million jobs or 10% of the EU workforce
depend on exports.
In June,
we reached agreement among EU Trade Ministers on the
mandate
in order for the Commission
to start talks on an
EU
-
US Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership

(TTIP)
. Reaching agreement among EU Trade Ministers on the
terms of the EU’s negotiating mandate
was

a top priority for the Irish Presidency

and I am
happy to say that the trade negotiations commenced last week in Washington.


According to assessments made by the EU Commission and other European bodies, a
comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership
between the U.S and the EU
could over
tim
e boost EU GDP by 0.5% per annum and help create approximately 400,000 jobs in the
6


EU.

Based on those assessments, if Ireland simply benefitted in proportion to the size of our
economy, a comprehensive trade and investment partnership could over time prov
ide gains to
Ireland in the order of €800 million per annum in increased GDP, and 4000 new jobs
.


Horizon 2020

(
Research Council
)

On the agreement on the new €70 Billion research and development Programme,
Horizon
2020
, Ireland
argued strongly, and succes
sfully, in favour of a greater emphasis on the SME
sector. In addition to new specific supports, such as access to finance and debt and equity
facilities, for SMEs, it has now been agreed that the target for SME participation in relevant
areas of Horizon
2020 should be increased from 15% to 20%. This is a significant change
given the proposed scale of Horizon 2020.
The programme will use a simplified funding
model which means that a greater number of businesses and research providers


small
medium and lar
ge
-

can access the programme with less bureaucracy.


In line with the Action Plan for Jobs we will pursue funding and other opportunities under
EU Horizon 2020 for specific sectoral activities of national importance and in line with our
national researc
h priorities.

COSME

(Competitiveness Council)

Furthermore, agreement was also achieved on the
€2

Billion dedicated Programme for

Competitiveness and SMEs (COSME Programme)

which will provide targeted financial
support for SMEs. In particular, the proposed equity facility for growth
-
phase investment will
support the development of the EU wide Venture Capital market, as well as the Loan Facility
which will provide direct or o
ther risk sharing arrangements with financial intermedi
aries to
cover loans for SMEs.


Smart Regulation

(Competitiveness Council)

We worked with the other Member States and the European Commission to agree an
approach to Smarter Regulation for the medium
term, whereby all European regulation will
be assessed so as to remove unnecessary costs for business and all end
-
users. Council
Conclusions on Smart Regulation, in response to two Communications from the Commission
were approved by the Competitiveness C
ouncil on 29
th

May, setting out the next steps for the
simplification of EU regulation. The Conclusions focus largely on the manner in which
outputs will be delivered by the Commission from their various, overlapping programmes.

7


Youth Guarantee

(EPSCO)

In light of the adoption by the
EPSCO

Council of Ministers of a Recommendation on an
EU
-
wide Youth Guarantee
,
this Department is continuing to support the Department of Social
Protection in
improv
ing

its services to unemployed young people with a particula
r focus on
optimising the benefits of the Youth Guarantee for Ireland.


The
agreement reached by EPSCO Ministers in Brussels
in February recommends that each
Member State should move quickly to implement Youth Guarantees in their respective
countries, tak
ing into account existing national, regional and local policies and objectives.


At
EU level,
we as
Presidency ha
d

pushed strongly for early production of implementati
on plans
in all Member States.



Arising from this agreement, t
he European Council has ap
proved a
Youth Employment
Initiative (YEI)

amounting to €6 billion for the period 2014
-
2020 to support measures aimed
at addressing youth unemployment and in particular to support the Youth Guarantee for
regions with particularly high levels of youth unemployment. The June 2013 European
Council ha
s decided that Member Sta
tes seeking to benefit from the
YEI should adopt a plan
to tackle youth unemployment, including through the

implementation of the "Youth
Guarantee", before the end of
2013.
Most funding of measures
required to implement a
Youth
Gua
rantee will nonetheless have to come from
the
national budget.


European Semester

The European Semester process was greatly improved this year under the stewardship of our
Presidency. The Presidency obtained agreement in Council on Council Conclusions on
the
Commission’s Annual Growth Survey 2013 and adoption of the 2013 Joint Employment
Report and the adoption of a Decision approving the guidelines for the employment policies
of Member States for 2013.
The majority of
M
ember
S
tates supported the Country Sp
ecific
Recommendations
(CSR)
addressed to them on employment and social policy issues.

State Aid Modernisation

(Competitiveness Council)

Proposals on State Aid Modernisation (SAM) w
ere also agreed. These new State Aid
Regulations will take account
of post
-
crisis structural reforms and industrial restructuring
which Member States are undergoing and the need for better alignment of State Aid with
Europe 2020 objectives.

8


Single Market

(Competiti
veness

Council)

Turning to the Single Market, a number o
f important files which were vital to completing and
integrating the EU Single Market were also agreed or significantly advanced, including
those
on
recognition of
Professional Qualifications,

Public Procurement
,
and the
Accounting
Directive.

With the ag
reement on these files, some long
-
standing barriers to completing and
integrating the internal market have now been removed and ultimately will make it easier to
move and work across all Member States and will lower transaction costs for SMEs. In terms
of
the Accounting directive
,
it will provide for transparency on revenue streams

which
Governments

in resource
-
rich countries around the world are receiving from European
companies active in these industries and in the logging of primary forests. The Directi
ve is
also important in that it updates the EUs accounting legislation, improves transparency and
red
-
tape reduction.


Unitary Patent
Court
Agreement

(Competitiveness Council)


The signing of
an International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court by
25
participating
Member States during the Competitiveness Council on 19th February
last provides the
impetus for creating a genuine internal market for those seeking to protect and enforce their
patent rights at European level.
It has been estimated that user
s of the Unified Patent Court
could save somewhere between €148 and €289 million per year, compared to the present

costs of €1.5 million in some Member States of such

litigation.


Concluding remarks

Chairman,

given the diverse range of dossiers covered by
each of the Councils it is only
possible to provide a summary overview on the MAIN legislative and policy developments
covered by the
Six Monthly Report. The
N
ote
on the Presidency
which I have also submitted
to the Committee

provides a more comprehensive debrief on Presidency outcomes and
achievements. During our Presidency we worked hard to progress these key dossiers with a
view to advancing and contributing to a pro
-
growth and pro
-
employment agenda across
Europe.


This co
ncludes my comments and I will be pleased to respond to whatever questions or
observations that Members may have.


ENDS







APPENDIX


Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise
and
Innovation


Attendance by Mr. John Murphy , Secretary General,
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innvation


16
th

July 2013







Table of Contents

OVERVIEW

................................
................................
................................
................................
.......................

1


STARTEGIC PRESIDENCY

ACHIEVEMENTS
/OUTCOMES

................................
................................
......................

2


TRADE COUNCIL

EU/US Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership

(TTIP) …………………………………………………………
2
Omnibus I & II Dossiers………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………3

Other Free Trade/Market Access Agreements……………………………………………………………………………………
3


EPSCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consume
r Affairs) Council

Youth Guarantee Scheme………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….4

Directive to Protect Workers in Contact with Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s)……………………………………
4

Agreement with the European Parliament on the Programme for Social Change and
Innovation
(PCSI) [Now titled EaSI] Employment and Social Innovation………………………………………………………………5

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the enforcement of
Directive 96/71
/
EC concerning the POSTING OF WORKERS in the Framework

of the Provision of
Services………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………..5

Europe 2020 Strategy and European Semester………………………………………………………………………………….6

Chemicals Regulation ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
6

European Globalisation
Adjustment Fund (EGF)………………………………………………………………………………..
6

International Labour Organisation Coordination


Geneva……………………………………………………………….7


COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL (Re
search, Development & Space Issues
)


Horizon 2020 (€70.2 Billion Package
)
………………………………………………

…………………………………………7/8

Council Conclusions Establishing Appropriate Relations Between the EU and the European Space
Agency (ESA)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………9

Council Conclusions on Industrial Policy for Space…………………………………………………………………………
..9





COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL (Internal Market, Industry, Consumer, Company Law and Intellectual
Property)


COSME Programme (€2.03 Billion Package for SME’s Supports)..……………………………………………………
9

State Aid Regulations……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
10

Regional Aid Guidelines (RAG)


Adopted by the College of Commissioners……………………………………1
0

Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan………………………………………………………………………………………………….11

Council Conclusions on “Smart Regulation”……………………………………………………………………………………..1
1

Accounting Di
rective………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..12

Audit Directive/Regulation………………………………………………………………………………………………………………1
2

EU Commission Action Plan for European Company Law and Corporate Governance…………………….13

IPR and the Collective Rights Directive …
…………………………………………………………………………………………14

Unified Patent Court………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..1
4

Regulations on Consumer Product Safety and Market Surveillance………………………………………………..15

New Legislative Framework (NLF) Alignment Package Agreement……………
…………………………………….15

Consumer Programme 2014
-
2020…………………………………………………………………………………………………..1
5

Integration of the Single Market ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..16

EU Industrial Policy………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….16

Discussion at the Info
rmal Competitiveness Council, Dublin Castle on May 3
rd

2013 on completing
EMU…………………………………………………………………
………………………………………………………………………………16

Other Cross
-
Cutting/Inter Departmental Outcomes…………………………………………………………………………17

Agreement with the European Parliament on
the Directive on Professional Qualifications (Single
Market Act 1 File)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….17

Provisional Agreement with the European Parliament on the Public Procurement Packages (Single
Market Act 1
File)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1
7

Agreement on the Modernised Union Customs Code………………………………………………………………………18




1


Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

A
ttendance

by Mr. John Murphy, Secretary Gener
al, Department of Jobs,
Enterprise and Innovation

Tuesday, 16
th

July, 2013 at 1.30 p.m.

Background Briefing Note on
EU Presidency Outcomes


Overview

1.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation played a central role during the
EU Presidency in driving

the EU policy agenda embodied in the overarching policy
theme of “
promoting sustainable economic

growth and jobs and building Europe’s
competitive advantage”.


As Presidency, Ireland focussed on measures to promote
growth and employment in accordance with the “
Compact for growth and jobs
” as
agreed by Heads of State and Government in June 2012. The Presidency placed a
strong emphasis on advancing proposals that
can boost the EU’s competitive edge
globally and add greatest value to jobs, growth, competitiveness and investment.


2.

Over
60 individual items

in this Department’s policy and legislative areas were
advanced during our Presidency. Our intensive interaction

with the EU Institutions
has been positive and was augmented by the added pressure to make progress given
forthcoming European Parliament elections and the appointment of a new
Commission in 2014. As a result, only a very few items were stalled.


3.

The ha
ndling of negotiations with the European Parliament and within the various
Working Groups and Committees and other Groups is a testament to the
commitment and resilience to personnel working in all of the Department’s
Divisions. The back
-
filling by staff
not directly involved in Presidency business was
equally commendable with all playing their part in the collective effort. Moreover,
the leadership and personal commitment displayed by our Ministers was recognised.
As the public face of the Presidency it

fell to them to add the political clout in order
to make the deals and compromises on which the Presidency will be ultimately
judged.
Ministers also attended 5 Committee meetings of the European Parliament
(INTA, IMCO, JURI, ITRE and Employment Committee
s) to outline the Presidency’s
Programme in January and to date one wrap up session (INTA) has also been held.


4.

Logistically and operationally it was a major undertaking by the Department,
involving
over 300 meetings

in Brussels

and almost 900 meetings in
Geneva

and
elsewhere including c
oordination over three weeks in June
2013
at the International
Labour Conference

in Geneva and attendance and chairing at WTO and WIPO
meetings.



2


5.

The Department organised and held
5 formal Council
s and 3 informal Councils in
Brussels, Luxembourg and Dublin
during our Presidency, as well as a number of pre
-
Presidency events in 2012. In addition, the Department and its Agencies held 27
separate events, a mixture of large Conferences (eg. EuroNanoFor
um 2013: 1,200
delegates in the National Convention Centre) and high level working party meetings
and informal experts meetings in Dublin, Brussels and Geneva. The servicing of DJEI
working groups and committee chairpersons and delegates involved over 40
individuals between Dublin, Brussels and Geneva.


6.

The Department also played a central role in processing the
European Semester

and
contributions to the Country Specific Recommendations in Council formations
Competitiveness and EPSCO through those Councils advisory and preparatory
Committees and Groups, in particular the Employment Committee and the High
Level Group on Competitive
ness.
Council conclusions were also achieved on the
Annual Growth Survey 2013 and the 2013 Joint Employment Report was adopted.


7.

Through prudent management of the Presidency Budget, greater centralisation of
services and strict adherence to D
epartment of
P
ublic
E
xpenditure and
R
eform

guidelines, there will be substantial savings achieved by the Department against the
Presidency
allocation

received.



8.

Overall coordination of the Presidency was handled efficiently and effectively, in
particular with regard t
o the Formal Councils, the organisation and operation of the
Informal Councils in Dublin Castle and Ministers appearances before EP Committees
and general interaction and coordination with the Council Secretariat and
Commission and press functions





STR
ATEGIC PRESIDENCY ACHIEVEMENTS
/OUTCOMES


A number of important strategic objectives were attained by the Department

including
the following illustrative examples:


TRADE COUNCIL




EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)


The primary goal of the Presidency in Trade was to advance the recommendations of
the EU
-
US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth established in November
2011 and work towards agreement for a new generation Trade and Investment
Agreement between the
EU and the US. In March, both sides started internal
procedures that would lead to the actual launch of negotiations at the earliest
opportunity. The draft negotiating mandate from the European Commission was
approved by the College of Commissioners and t
ransmitted to the Council on 12

3


March 2013. Member States outlined their preliminary views on the draft mandate
at an Informal meeting of the Trade Policy Committee of the European Council (TPC)
in Dublin on 15 March 2013.


The negotiating
D
irectives were

also discussed at the
highly successful
Informal meeting of Trade Ministers meeting at Dublin Castle on
17
-
18 April 2013.

Ireland was the first country, since the Lisbon Treaty, to hold an
Informal meeting of
Trade Ministers

during its Presidency.
Considerable preparatory work by Irish
Presidency and intensive discussions at the EU Trade Council on 14 June led to
agreement on a mandate to formally launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US. Securing t
his agreement provided a
positive basis for the recent G8 Summit and the Taoiseach’s attendance at same.

The negotiating mandate is broad based and positions the Commission to enter talks
with strong support from Council to negotiate
a
best possible deal f
or Europe.
Audiovisual services are presently not in the mandate, but the mandate clearly
indicates that the Commission has the possibility to come back to the Council with
additional negotiating
D
irectives on the basis of discussions with their US
counter
parts.
The European Parliament’s resolution on trade and investment
negotiations with US is also strongly supportive. The first round of negotiations
commence
d

in Washington in the week beginning 8 July.

A comprehensive deal on areas such as common regulat
ory standards and
investment rules holds massive potential for economic growth and jobs which
could over time boost EU GDP by 0.5% per annum and help create approximately
400,000 jobs in the EU.



Omnibus I & II dossiers

The Presidency broke the log
-
jam in
Council in respect of the Omnibus I & II dossiers.
Early second reading agreement was reached with the European Parliament on the
files which involve regulatory changes to EU decision
-
making procedures for trade
policy. Agreement on the main political issu
es on both Omnibus I and II was reached
at Trilogues on 5
th

June 2013. Essentially these are technical proposals aimed at
aligning decision making procedures [i.e. “comitology”] to those introduced by the
Lisbon Treaty.



Other Free Trade
/Market
A
ccess

Ag
reements

The Presidency commenced or advanced negotiations on other EU Free Trade
Agreements such as the

EU
-
Japan trade agreement

and the
EU
-
Canada
Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement
and held a
debate on trade and
investment relations with China
.
The
Presidency
also
secured a compromise on the
Market Access Regulation in March
2013
which was endorsed by the Council and the

4


European Parliament in May.

The Market access Regulation
govern
s

trade
conditions for certain developing countries that have negotiated Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU. EPAs are instruments for promoting
regional integration and economic development in the African Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP) countrie
s
.
The Market Access Regulation will come into force on 1 October
2014.


EPSCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs) COUNCIL

It should be noted that the l
ead responsibility for the EPSCO Council (and for the
preparation of the Employment

Chapter of Ireland's N
ational reform Programme
)
lies with D/Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. The Minister for Jobs Enterprise and
Innovation chaired the main
European
Semester debates and other key legislative
deliberations of the EPSCO Council during the
Irish Presidency. Where, however,
EPSCO agenda items primarily concerned social protection and the role of public
employment services, education/training or equality issues, the Minister for Social
Protection or the Minister for State at the Department of
Education and Skills or the
Minister for State at the Department of Justice and Equality chaired the relevant
proceedings.



Youth Guarantee Scheme

Minister Joan Burton has lead responsibility. P
olitical Agreement was achieved at
the February 2013 EPSCO C
ouncil on the
Youth Guarantee
. The aim is to ensure
that young people who are not working or studying receive an offer of employment,
continued education, an apprenticeship or traineeship within four months.

Implementation will of course need to have reg
ard to the very different
circumstances in different Member States. Implementation will need to be more
gradual in countries with higher levels of youth unemployment and particularly
severe budgetary problems. An important development in this regard is th
e €6
billion
Youth Employment Initiative

endorsed by the European Council as part of its
agreement on a new MFF 2014
-
2020.

The new Youth Employment Initiative will be open to all regions where youth
unemployment exceeds 25%.
Therefore, t
he South and East
Region (28%) and the
BMW Region (33%) of Ireland are both eligible.




Directive to protect workers in contact with Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

Ministers at the June
2013
EPSCO adopted a Directive “on the minimum health and
safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from
physical agents (electromagnetic fields)” as part of the overall framework workplace

5


health & safety laws. The Presidency
had secured agreement with the European
Parliament on the detail of the Directive at the end of March 2013.

This Directive is
aimed at protecting workers from potential risks associated with exposure to
electromagnetic fields in the workplace and its adopt
ion was a high priority for the
Irish Presidency in the area of labour law. The potential effects of electromagnetic
fields on human health vary widely depending on the frequency and intensity of the
fields.




Agreement with the European Parliament on the
Programme for Social Change and
Innovation (PSCI)
[now titled EaSI] Employment and Social Innovation

A
greement was secured
on this Programme
with the European Parliament

on 26
June 2013.
PSCI, which in future will be known as the Employment and Social
Innovation
P
rogramme, will be effective from 1 January 2014 until 31 December
2020 (7 years). It integrates and extends 3 existing programmes:




Progress (Programme for Employment and Socia
l Solidarity),



EURES (European Employment Services) and



the European Progress Microfinance Facility.


With an indicative budget of €815 million from 2014
-
2020, the Programme focuses
on key social concerns of Governments to tackle high levels of unemployment,
poverty, social exclusion and ageing populations. Programme activities under the
EURES Network wil
l support workers’ mobility, help companies recruit from abroad
and develop targeted mobility schemes for workers moving from one Member State
to another.





Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the
enforcement of Dire
ctive 96/71/EC concerning the POSTING OF WORKERS in the
framework of the provision of services

This proposal is one of the 12 Single Market Act I (SMA I) priorities and Ireland
strongly supports any policy developments that develop and enhance the
function
ing of the Single Market. The Irish Presidency set an ambitious target of
achieving agreement on a General Approach. Despite considerable effort, this did
not prove possible, not least because of a range of domestic political sensitivities in
larger membe
r States. We can, nevertheless, point to progress made on particular

6


aspects of the proposal, notably in the area of cross
-
border enforcement of fines and
penalties.



Europe 2020 Strategy and European Semester


The Presidency engaged actively with Cypr
us

t
hroughout the second half of 2012 in
preparing the ground for the third European Semester. Ministers engaged in a
review last year of lessons learned from the 2012 Semester process which, like the
2011 Semester, had been an arduous and intensive exercise.

The European
Semester process was greatly improved this year under the stewardship of our
Presidency
.



The Presidency obtained agreement in Council on Council Conclusions on the
Commission’s Annual Growth Survey 2013 and adoption of the 2013 Joint
Employ
ment Report and the adoption of a Decision approving the guidelines for the
employment policies of Member States for 2013.

The Council confirmed the general understanding that preparations laid in advance
by the Irish Presidency for the 3
rd

semester helped to ensure greater co
-
ordination
between the main preparatory committees and a re
-
balancing of the relationship
between the EPSCO and ECOFIN Councils. The majority of
M
ember
S
tates supported
the Country Specific Recommendations
(CSRs)
addre
ssed to them on employment
and social policy issues. Ministers welcomed improved complementarities between
the economic, labour market and social protection pillars of economic governance.
Improvements in the focus and content of CSRs were considered to re
flect increased
engagement by the European Commission with
M
ember
S
tates through the
extended series of bilateral undertaken through the course of the third semester
exercise.



Chemicals regulation

The EPSCO Council

also held
Council discussions on recent
Chemicals Regulations
publications relating to the REACH Review (
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation
and Restriction of Chemicals
)
, Second Regulatory Review on nano
-
materials and the
Commission’s Roadmap for Substances of Very high Concern under REACH.




European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)


Primarily under the responsibility of the Department of Education and Science,
and
linked to the agreement on the MFF (EU Budget 2014
-
2020), the EPSCO Council,
under the Chairmanship of Minster Bruton, a
greed a general approach on the
European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The EGF provides co
-
financing
support for approved programmes of guidance, training, education and enterprise

7


supports for workers made redundant as a result of the adverse impac
ts of
globalisation. This agreement now enables Council to enter into negotiations
immediately with the European Parliament. If agreed with Parliament, the EGF is
expected to fund approved labour market activation measures up to a maximum
€1.05 billion in

the period 2014


2020.




International Labour Organisation Coordination

-

Geneva

The Presidency carried out the following functions as part of this Department’s
involvement with the
International Labour Organisation
in
Geneva
:



Coordination over three week
s in June at the International Labour Conference
(ILC)



Council Agreement on Decision authorising Member States to ratify ILO
(Chemicals) Convention 170



Council Agreement on Decision authorising Member States to ratify, in the
interests of the European U
nion, Convention

189

concerning decent work for
domestic workers, 2011, of the I
nternational Labour Organisation



The Presidency has successfully led negotiations for the EU in a number of

areas,
including at the ILO International Labour Conference, dealing

with:




Employment and Social Protection in the New Demographic Context,



Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs



Social Dialogue

and

at the European Regional meeting of 51 European and Central Asian ILO member
States leading to the agreement of the Oslo Declaration:

Restoring Confidence in
Jobs and Growth"


COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL (Research, Development and
S
pace issues)



HORIZON 2020 (
€70
.2

Billion

Package)

The main priorities of the Irish Presidency in the area of research and innovation
were:



Achieving agreement on the HORIZON 2020 Programme, and



progressing the completion of European Research Area (ERA)




Obtaining agreement on this

Programme was a central plank of the Irish Presidency’s
designated theme of jobs and growth. Horizon 2020 is a key European instrument for
jobs and growth and both the Council and Parliament had been working towards a

8


first reading agreement by the end of

June, 2013 to ensure there would be sufficient
time to enable Horizon 2020 to commence on 1 January 2014. The European
Council’s conclusions of 27/28 June welcomed the agreement reached on Horizon
2020 and called for its rapid implementation.
The compro
mise agreed covers the
entire Horizon 2020 package, including the Regulation of the Framework
Programme, the Regulation on the Rules for participation and the Decision on the
Specific Programme, as well as the two European institute of technology (EIT file
s:
the Amending Regulation and the Strategic Innovation Agenda.




A key element for which Ireland strongly supported,
i
s that it has

now been agreed
that the target for SME participation in relevant areas of Horizon 2020 should be
increased from 15% to 20%. This is a significant change given the proposed scale of
Horizon 2020.
The package also contains
new specific supports, such as ac
cess to
finance and debt and equity facilities, for SMEs
.
The programme will use a simplified
funding model which means that a greater number of businesses and research
providers


small medium and large
-

can access the programme with less
bureaucracy.
This in turn means greater diversity in research, greater opportunities
for business and greater benefits for the economy at large.
In line with the Action
Plan for Jobs we will pursue funding and other opportunities under EU Horizon 2020
for specific sect
oral activities of national importance and in line with our national
research priorities.
In that regard,
It was hugely important that the Irish Presidency
secure
d

continuity in funding for research and innovation, following on Framework
Programme 7, under

which Ireland is set to secure €600 million




The Presidency also focused on progressing the European Council’s objective of
completing the European Research Area (ERA).
Europe needs a unified research
area to attract talent and investment. Remaining gap
s must therefore be addressed
rapidly to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation.
Our aim was to focus attention on and secure substantial progress towards meeting
the target set by the European Council to complete the Europea
n Research area
by
2014.
We paid particular attention to a

number of the ERA priorities, namely:




coordinated public investment in research and innovation across
Europe through Joint Programming



A
n open labour market for researchers



Enhancing international cooperation






9




Council Conclusions establishing appropriate relations between the EU and the
European Space Agency (ESA)

The Commission’s Communication dated 14 November 2012 on
establishing
appropriate relations between the EU an
d the European Space Agency (ESA)
set out
a number of options which could be considered:
-




Improved cooperation with ESA under the “status quo”,



Bringing ESA under the authority of the EU or



Transforming ESA into an Agency of the EU.

Council Conclusions on the Communication
were
adopted on 18 February
2013 by
the Council and
reflected the views of Member States and called on the Commission
to work closely with ESA to carry out a comprehensive cost benefit analysis and
impact assessment of a set of options, including those proposed in its
Communication. The Commission has since

commenced an in
-
depth study of these
options and the first results are expected to be presented to Member States towards
the end of 2013.

The Conclusions also directed the Commission to pursue a set of actions which will
assist in developing coherence an
d complementarity between both bodies taking
into consideration the Commission Communication and the corresponding actions
agreed by the ESA Ministerial Council in Naples last November.



Council Conclusions

on industrial
P
olicy for Space

The
Presidency
al
so
secured Council Conclusions on
an
EU Space Industrial Policy
.

Both of t
hese Council Conclusions represent important steps in defining the future
landscape of the European Space effort. They recognise the strategic importance of
space for Europe, its gro
wing role in modern society, the importance of the space
industry and of the European Space Agency, and the contribution which these
partners make to economic growth and competitiveness.




Progress was also made on the proposal for a
Space Surveillance and
Tracking (SST)

support programme which will ensure the security of satellite data for all sectors and
users of such services. Initial discussions also took place on a proposed Regulation on
Copernicus


the European Union’s Flagship satellite
-
based earth m
onitoring
programme. The work of the Irish Presidency in this area will contribute to the
development of a strong and competitive European and Irish space industry.


COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL (
Internal Market, Industry, Consumer, Company
Law and Intellectua
l Property)




COSME Programme (€2.03 Billion package for SMEs supports)

The Presidency secured agreement with the European Parliament to improve access
to finance for SMEs under the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises

10


and SMEs (COSME) 2014


2020. The new Programme for the Competitiveness of
Enterprises and Small and Medium
-
sized Enterprises (COSME) will run from 2014 to
2020, with a budget of over €2 Billion. The general aim of this programme is to
strengthen the competitiveness and sustainab
ility of EU enterprises, and to
encourage an entrepreneurial culture, promoting the creation and growth of SMEs.


We know that there are over 20 million SMEs in Europe, accounting for more than
98% of all enterprises. If we can just help each of the 23 mil
lion EU SMEs generate
one additional job we will greatly help address the unemployment issue across
Europe. That is why the COSME programme to strengthen the competitiveness and
sustainability of the EU’s SMEs is so important. SMEs are the engines of grow
th and
job creation in Europe, and achieving the agreement on COSME sends a strong
positive signal to all European SMEs.




State Aid Regulations

Proposals on the State Aid Modernisation (SAM) have been a prominent issue on our
Presidency agenda. The Presidency convened nine meetings of the Competition
Working Party to discuss the Procedural Regulation and the Enabling Regulation.

The primary issu
e of contention for Member States relates to the Procedural
Regulation and specifically the Commission proposal for Market Information Tools
(MIT); in essence the Commission has added the competence of requesting
information directly from enterprises in re
lation to relevant market data.


Following a public debate the Presidency secured a General Approach on both
Regulations at the Competitiveness Council on 29 May 2013.


The operation of a level playing pitch in the context of aid to industry is of major
in
terest to Ireland. The State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative is timely in that
State
A
id policy now needs to look beyond the financial crisis and be more than ever
supportive of the goal of achieving a strong, dynamic, integrated and contestable
single

market.

We welcome the principle of a more proportionate and differentiated
approach to application / enforcement of the state aid regime and we look forward
to a reduction in regulatory burden for SMEs. This principle should also apply to the
requiremen
ts placed on national administrations in responding to complaints.




Regional Aid Guidelines (RAG)


Adopted by the College of Commissioners

The Regional Aid Guidelines for the period 2014 to 2020 are currently being revised
as part of the State Aid Moderni
sation (SAM) reform package. The revised proposal
agreed by the College contains a
compromise

from Commissioner Almunia in
relation to Regional Aid and specifically aid to large enterprises in 'c' regions.



11


The adopted RAG will allow regional investment
aid for large companies in 'c' regions
when the aid brings new activity to the region (aid for
‘new activities’
or the

diversification of existing establishments into ‘new products’ or ‘new process
innovations’
).


The final iteration of the Regional Aid Gu
idelines (2014
-
2020) was
adopted

at the
College of Commissioners on 19 June 2013. The guidelines adopt a stricter approach
on aid for investments made by large enterprises in the more developed assisted
areas. The guidelines will enter into force on
01 Jul
y 2014
.





Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan

The Presidency also scheduled a debate by Industry Ministers at the Council on 19
February 2013 on the Commission’s Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, setting out a
renewed vision to unleash Europe's
entrepreneurial potential, overcome bottlenecks
and remove existing obstacles.

The Action Plan is based on three pillars:

o

Developing entrepreneurial education and training

o

Creating the right business environment

o

Promoting role models and reaching out to
specific groups


The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan will be now progressed through the SME
Envoy network (Irish SME Envoy is Minister John Perry TD) where the
implementation and future reporting mechanisms will be discussed.


Entrepreneurship was also a

central theme of the
Informal Competitiveness Council
held on 3 May 2013 in Dublin Castle. The Informal Competitiveness Council focussed
on
'SMEs as a driver of European Growth'

and addressed core issues for SMEs
across Europe such as access to finance,
regional entrepreneurship and global
opportunities.

This Informal Council was held back
-
to
-
back with the Commission’s
SME Finance Forum

organised by DG Enterprise and Industry

and hosted by Vice
-
President Commissioner Tajani.




Council Conclusions on “Sm
art Regulation”

The Presidency drafted Council Conclusions on Smart Regulation in response to two
Communications from the C
ommission ("EU Regulatory Fitness" 12.12.12 and
("Smart Regulation
-

Responding to the needs of SMEs" 07.03.13). The draft
Conclusio
ns were broadly considered balanced from the outset. Due to preparatory
groundwork in the working group, a consensus was reached o
n 29 May
2013 and
the
Compet
itiveness

Council agreed the Conclusions with no discussion.




12


The Conclusions focus largely on t
he manner in which outputs will be delivered by
the Commission from their various, overlapping programmes, with reports on "initial
concrete proposals" for simplification now due in June and October this year. This
dossier is now concluded. In parallel,
the Mertens Group (COREPER advisory
Committee) drafted a report on Impact Assessment at Council which was agreed by
Coreper and subsequently by the Competitiveness Council on 29 May, as an A item.
An action that arises from this is the piloting of propose
d Impact Assessment
Guidelines for WP Chairs on a small number of upcoming legislative dossiers. The
Trio partners are currently in discussion about how this will be progressed. We
expect that the Lithuanians will take this up during their Presidency.




Accounting Directive


Ireland secured a First Reading Agreement in April 2013 on the difficult Accounting
Directive and having been adopted at Council on 20/21 June, the Directive now
passes into EU law.
At the point where Ireland took over this dossier,
there was no
agreement either on the accounting issues or the “Country by Country Reporting”
Chapter directed at extractives industries which was subject to intensive lobbying
and global interest


The extractives provision referred to above will provide fo
r transparency on revenue
streams which Governments in resource
-
rich countries around the world are
receiving from European companies active in these industries and in the logging of
primary forests. Their populations will, as a consequence, be informed of

these
income streams which constitutes an accountability mechanism vis
-
à
-
vis the
Governments in question.


The Directive is also important in that it updates the EUs accounting legislation,
improves transparency and comparability of accounts and provides
for
simplifications and administrative burden reductions, in particular for small and
medium sized companies. The Directive is one of the outstanding parts remaining of
the Single Market Act I legislation, the finalisation of which was prioritised by the
Irish Presidency.




Audit Directive/Regulation

This sizeable audit dossier, comprising a draft Directive and Regulation, was
progressed significantly under Ireland’s Presidency. This was assisted by being
submitted to
the Competitiveness Council meeting on 29 May
2013
on the basis of a
Progress Report and an Orientation Debate on the three

headline issues
-

mandatory
auditor rotation, restriction on the provision of audit
-
related services and co
-
operation of national ov
ersight bodies.


13



The political guidance received from Ministers on these three issues assisted greatly
with informing the debate at the working group and enabling the Presidency to bring
these central issues to a stage very close to agreement. That and th
e significant
headway made by our Presidency on other aspects of the dossier
has made it
possible to pass along a well
-
advanced file to Lithuania which is already moving
towards a process of early Council “General Approach” agreement with a view to
Trilogu
e engagement with the European Parliament in early Autumn.


Officials of the Department made a submission/presentation to the Joint Oireachtas
Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, at the invitation of the latter, on
these Audit Proposals on 16 Oct
ober of last year. It was invited to return on 18
December, to deal with residual issues, along with the Irish Auditing and Accounting
Supervisory Authority (IAASA).

Following this, the Joint Committee wrote to the
President of the European Parliament, the

European Commission and the Minister
for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation with a report of its scrutiny of the EU Audit
Proposals and a political contribution in the matter.




EU Commission Action Plan for European Company Law and Corporate Governance

Re
-
th
inking EU company law has been identified by the Joint Committee as one of
the topics of particular interest to it. Shortly before the Irish Presidency, on 12
December 2012, the Commission published its Action Plan for European company
law and corporate go
vernance (COM (2012) 740), which set out 16 different actions,
ranging from information campaigns and public consultations through to proposals
for legislation. The actions are designed to make progress in three particular areas,
namely





Increasing the l
evel of transparency between companies and their
shareholders in order to improve corporate governance (e.g. measures on
reporting, board diversity, and shareholder identification)



Encouraging and facilitating long term shareholder engagement (e.g.
measure
s on the role of shareholders in remuneration and oversight of
related party transactions)



Company law (e.g. proposals to facilitate cross border transfers of registered
offices, to clarify rules on cross border divisions and to enhance cross border
opport
unities for SMEs)


It was decided that Ireland, as a facet of its Presidency would facilitate discussion on
key aspects of the Plan. To that end, the Presidency, in conjunction with Arthur Cox,
PWC and the Irish Stock Exchange, organised the European Corpo
rate Governance
and Company Law Conference on the 16
th

and 17
th

of May last .


14


So far, one of the proposals for legislation under the Action Plan has emerged and
that is the proposal for a Directive amending the Accounting Directives as regards
disclosure o
f non
-
financial and diversity information by certain large companies and
groups (COM (2013) 207). This was adopted by the Commission on 16 April 2013,
but, due to pressure to make progress on the accounting and audit reviews, it did
not prove possible for
the Irish Presidency to open Council negotiations on this file.

Apart from this proposal, the Commission has made headway on several of the non
-
legislative actions in the Plan, such as on
-
line consultations on single member
companies and transfer of regis
tered office.



IPR and the Collective Rights Management Directive

The Department
was extremely active in the field of copyright over the course of the
Presidency and achieved the following:



Progressing the Collective Rights Management Directive, a complex
and
lengthy Directive that is an important step in the modernisation of copyright
legislation to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the digital age, to the stage
where a mandate to enter into the first informal trilogue with the European
Parliament was o
btained on 4th July 2013;




Ensuring that focus remained on the broader copyright modernisation
agenda by raising the profile of issues such as the “licences for Europe”
stakeholder dialogue and the recommendations of the

Vittorino Report


on
copyright lev
ies; and




Successfully concluding the “Marrakesh Treaty


to Facilitate Access to
Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise
Print Disabled”, a treaty which has the potential to improve the lives of
millions of visually impaired persons across the globe by facilitating their
acc
ess to suitably formatted books
.




Unified Patent Court

The signing of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court was one of the key
achievements of Ireland’s EU Presidency. It goes to the heart of the role of the
European Union; ensuring there is a genuine s
ingle market for those seeking to
protect and enforce their
Patent
rights
at European level.

Ireland’s Presidency not
only oversaw the formal signing of the Unified Patent Court agreement, but, just as
importantly, put in place the structures for implemen
ting the Agreement, with a
view to the court becoming fully functional in 2015.



15


Ensuring final agreement on the legislative instruments was a milestone along a
continuing journey. Participating Member States are now tacking the considerable
outstanding i
ssues to be faced during the implementation phase. Officials in the
Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation are playing a full part in these
implementing committees.


In Ireland, we will have the additional task of a
C
onstitutional referendum, to be h
eld
in 2014, before we can ratify this agreement. This arises as a result of this new court
requiring a transfer of judicial jurisdiction currently resident in Irish courts.




Regulations on
C
onsumer
P
roduct
S
afety and
M
arket
S
urveillance

B
oth of these proposals formed integral parts of the
Commission’s
S
ingle Market Act

II package
. T
he Presidency aim was to progress the proposals sufficiently to allow
for agreement by spring 2014.
The Commission adopted the proposals on 13
February
2013
a
nd they were presented to the Competitiveness Council on 19
February

2013
, with the first introductory Council Working Group on 26 February

2013
. The Presidency succeeded in achieving a first read
-
through of both dossiers
which will allow the incoming Lith
uanian Presidency to advance them with the
European Parliament to achieve agreement by spring 2014.




New Legislative Framework (NLF) Alignment Package Agreement

The Presidency also secured a first reading agreement with the European Parliament
on
on a Pyro
technic Articles Directive which formed part of a package of nine
measures of technical harmonisation Directives that make up the New Legislative
Framework (NLF) Alignment Package. Agreement): work on the other eight proposals
progressed to a point where f
ull agreement is now only subject to one outstanding
comitology issue being resolved.

This exercise saw proposals for nine technical measures to be harmonised and
aligned with the New Legislative Framework (NLF) on product safety and market
surveillance. T
he relevant products ranged from protective equipment to
pyrotechnics to lifts and safety components for lifts. This agreement will go a long
way towards simplifying procedures for all economic operators involved with those
products and ultimately lead to
greater safety for consumers and end
-
users.




Consumer Programme 2014
-
2020

The Consumer Programme became entwined with the overall negotiations on the
Multi
-
annual Financial Framework. While the Irish Presidency succeeded in securing
agreement on the

MFF
in late June, agreement with the European Parliament
on the

16


consumer programme
was not possible in the last few days of the Presidency. It will
now fall to the Lithuanian P
residency due to time constraints.



Integration of the Single Market

The Presidency a
ctively monitored the progress on all Single Market files and
regularly reported to Coreper and Council. With this kind of active dossier
management system, the Presidency was in a position to respond swiftly and
efficiently to emerging problems which had
to be addressed at political level.

With the agreement on th
e Internal Market

files

as referred to above,

some long
-
standing barriers to completing and integrating the internal market have now been
removed and ultimately will make it easier to move and w
ork across all Member
States and will lower transaction costs for SMEs
.

During the Presidency, the Department played a central role in processing the
European Semester and contributions to the Country Specific Recommendations in
Council formations Competit
iveness and EPSCO
and
through those Councils advisory
and preparatory Committees and Groups, in particular the Employment Committee
and the High Level Group on Competitiveness. In addition, for the first time, the
Presidency included for discussion

at Cou
ncil
, a Report on the integration of the
Single Market. The discussion also enhanced the Competitiveness Council’s role in
monitoring and providing political guidance on such measures.




EU Industrial Policy

A productive discussion was tabled by the Presid
ency on industrial policy within the
EU, with a particular focus on increasing manufacturing activity and jobs in the
context of the Commission’s proposed target of increasing manufacturing’s share of
total EU GDP from 16% currently to 20% in 2020. The im
portance of Key Enabling
Technologies (KETS) and Industry’s commitment to their development was
emphasi
s
ed in terms of their capacity to b
oost the Union’s innovation capacities.
Minister Bruton subsequently furnished a Report to Council President Van Romp
uy
summarising the exchange of views at the Competitiveness Council formal lunchtime
discussions on this topic. The Department also held a number of conferences during
the Presidency aimed at supporting this objective. This work included the
hosting of
the EuroNano Forum on 18
-
20 June 2013 at the National convention Centre (up to
1,200 participants) with the assistance of our Agencies, in particular Science
Foundation Ireland, which included a KETs Workshop.




Discussion at the Informal Compe
titiveness Council, Dublin Castle on 3 May
2013
on completing EMU

An
extensive exchange of views took place at a restricted session during our Informal
Competitiveness Council meeting on 3
rd

May
2013 at which
Commission Vice
-

17


President Tajani also took part

in these deliberations.

This discussion was also
informed by the
range

of options and implications which were set out in the two
Communications from the Commission which were published in March
2013
regarding
ex ante

economic co
-
ordination and competitive
ness and covergence
inst
ruments
. Our discussion on the day mainly concerned the proposed mutually
agreed contracts for competitiveness and growth but also addressed the related
issue of solidarity mechanisms and instruments.
Minister Bruton furnished Cou
ncil
President Van Rompuy with a letter summarising the views of the Member States on
these proposals.




Other cross
-
cutting/inter
-
Departmental outcomes

It is important to note that the Competitiveness Council has a broad cross cutting
remit which covers the Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space. Whilst the
Department takes the lead on this Council, given the wide sectoral issues involved, a
signif
icant number of files fall under the remit of other Departments, including the
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education and
Science and the Department of Finance. In that regards a number of important
Internal Market files
were agreed during the Presidency as follows:




Agreement with the European Parliament on the Directive on Professional
Qualifications (Single Market Act I file)

T
he amended Directive improves the current system of qualifications recognition to
facilitate greater labour mobility for skilled workers seeking employment in other
Member States. The agreement also reduces the time and resources spent on
bureaucracy for
both workers and their prospective or new employers. This will be
achieved in particular through the provision for a European Professional Card for
suitable professions, the proposals for Common Training Frameworks and Tests
which
have the potential to ext
end ‘automatic recognition’ of qualifications to a
wider range of professionals, and through the requirement for Member States to
ensure that professionals can complete online all necessary steps when applying for
recognition of their qualifications.




Pro
visional Agreement with the European Parliament on the Public
Procurement Package
(Single Market Act I file)


P
rovisional agreement
was achieved
on the Public Procurement Package (Classical
Directive, Utilities Directive and Concessions Directive). These
Directives will make it
easier for businesses and SMEs to tender for procurement contracts. Administrative
burdens will be reduced, procurement procedures simplified, and costs related to
tendering lowered by making procurement systems more transparent.
The use of e
-

18


procurement will also simplify the processes and foster greater cross
-
border
competition. It will strengthen the generation of jobs and growth, given that public
authorities across the European Union spend approximately €2 trillion per annum
(
some 19% of EU GDP) on the procurement of goods, services and works.
This is the
first time that a Directive on Concessions has been developed as until now regulation
at European level has been only partially developed. The compromises, achieved as
part o
f this overall package, will be examined in detail ahead of final approval at the
Committee of Permanent Representatives, and the European Parliament.




Agreement on the modernised Union Customs Code

The Commission proposal for this important piece of
legislation was submitted to
the Council in February 2012 and, building on the excellent work done under
the

Cyprus Presidency, securing agreement with the European Parliament on this file
was a priority for the Irish Presidency
.
The UCC modernises the EU’
s customs
regulations and further facilitates and supports intra
-
EU trade. It will advance the
objective of maximising the efficient and effective functioning of the Customs Union
and the EU’s Single Market.

The Presidency reached agreement with the Europ
ean
Parliament on the new Code in May 2013.

The draft Regulation will now go to the
European Parliament and European Council for full adoption and will enter into force
on the 1
st

November 2013.


ENDS