Such considerations have become even more critical: Europe is facing an unprecedented economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In striving to overcome this crisis, Europe is at the same time preparing itself for a digitalised, green and carbon-neutral future.

That is why Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU advocates for a policy agenda that allows EU member states, their businesses, research institutions and citizens to more easily reap the benefits of Europe’s Single Market. Such advances make for a more competitive and resilient Union better able to stay at the cutting edge of innovation.

Building upon the success of the Single Market

The Single Market is one of the greatest accomplishments of the European Union. The dissolution of barriers to the free movement of people, goods, services and capital in 1993 created millions of jobs and forms the basis of European prosperity, social security and solidarity.

Over 25 years later, Germany’s Presidency believes the key to safeguarding that prosperity lies in optimising the Single Market’s ability to adapt to new developments. This requires effective implementation of existing rules as well as strengthening and modernising the Single Market to make it fit for the future.

A key element in this regard is an efficient, future-oriented and innovation-friendly regulatory framework that provides our businesses and citizens with the best conditions to unleash their full potential. Therefore we want to:

  • expand the use of regulatory “sandboxes” by promoting experimentation clauses to foster innovation and allow the Single Market to quickly respond to future challenges
  • strengthen impact assessments and in particular the SME-Test to ensure that all new regulations are evidenced-based, future-proof, and achieve their aims at minimum costs
  • keep regulatory burdens manageable by implementing an effective One In, One Out Rule, which ensures that newly introduced compliance costs are at a minimum offset by striking outdated, inefficient regulations

Competitive industries: Key to a green, digital Europe

The Single Market is the sum of its parts: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise 99% of all European firms and contribute to about half of Europe’s gross domestic product.

Safeguarding our economy`s ability to develop and implement innovative and sustainable technologies is critical to European competitiveness and to advancing Europe’s green and digital transitions. As such, Germany’s Presidency supports the Commission’s recent Industrial Strategy and SME Strategy and proposes to discuss in the Council its planned measures to:

  • strengthen the competitiveness and resilience of European industry on a global level-playing-field
  • support the development of and investment in innovative technologies, while strengthening strategic value chains and industrial ecosystems in Europe
  • promote strong and predictable framework conditions, fair competition rules and good working conditions, especially for SMEs, in line with future market trends

Increasing globalisation and digitalisation, tackling the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and building momentum towards a green, carbon-neutral and circular economy – the convergence of these factors requires a modernized rulebook in Europe that ensures fair competition and the same market conditions for all players.

Germany’s Presidency therefore supports the following measures to boost the competitiveness of emerging industries and existing key infrastructures:

  • modernise and streamline conditions for state-aid in order to safeguard fair conditions, promote the creation of critical infrastructure like broadband and 5G networks, design projects to mitigate the impacts of economic crises and climate change, and advance the transition to green energies
  • modernise the EU’s competition policy framework, particularly with regard to fair competition in digital and global markets
  • prevent the offloading of CO2-emissions to states outside the EU, also known as carbon leakage

Promoting innovation, education and research are catalysts for an intelligent green transition in Europe and the Union’s overall competitiveness. Germany’s Presidency therefore wants to empower the continent’s renowned research institutions by:

  • further advancing the European Research Area to strengthen international cooperation and public participation in developing initiatives for green hydrogen, European resiliency to pandemics and scientific freedom

Innovation strategy in mobility

Within the framework of the European Green Deal, the European Commission will introduce at the end of 2020 its new EU Strategy for Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility.

Its focus on the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the transportation sector will be of particular importance for Germany’s Presidency, as it recognizes that Europe must combat ecological challenges while continuing to guarantee the competitiveness of Europe’s transportation sector. As such, Germany’s Presidency will work to:

  • guide the Council in proposals in line with the Commission’s forthcoming Strategy for Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility