Speech by Evaldas Gustas, Minister of Economy, at the European Parliament, Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee

09 July 2013, Last updated at, 08:47 EEST
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Evaldas Gustas | author: Ūkio ministerija

Mr. Chairman,
Honourable Members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As one of the Ministers responsible for the Competitiveness Council, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to present to your Committee the priorities and programme of the Lithuanian Presidency in the areas of Single Market Policy, Public Administration, and Consumer Rights.

The European Parliament represents the interests of the European Union’s 500 million citizens. Moreover, the Lithuanian Presidency fully understands and respects the central role you play in the EU’s decision-making process. So we are looking to have the most constructive, productive and mutually beneficial cooperation with you during our Presidency.

We shall be seeking to base our Presidency around the themes of a credible, a growing and an open Europe.
During the next six months, our attention will be focused above all else on constructive negotiations with the other institutions, as well as in the Council with the Member States, so as to achieve the best possible results for Europe’s citizens. As an honest and impartial broker, Lithuania will seek to ensure a smooth and efficient legislative process involving all partners.
I would like to take this opportunity to express appreciation for my colleagues in the Irish Presidency, for their excellent work and considerable achievement while working with you in the European Parliament on the issues under discussion today.

So, in the Competitiveness Council, we are planning to focus our attention on:
First, Single Market Policy
One of the main pillars in the strengthening of the single market during our Presidency will be the improvement of its governance and implementation of its rules, along with the progress on the Single Market Act I and II packages.

The European Commission’s Report on the State of the Single Market Integration, presented for the first time last November, have a real value in helping to formulate guidelines for the priorities of the Single Market policy.

Together with the Commission‘s initiatives on better governance of the Single Market and report of Mr. Schwab, Single Market Integration Report should serve as a proper basis for the Council‘s evaluation of the state of Single Market integration, Single Market policy governance and alternative methods of implementation. Political discussion among Ministers will also help to establish priorities for EU action in the short and medium-term.

In the field of Single Market policy, Lithuania plans to adopt Council conclusions which should include:
• the integration report;
• aspects of single market governance, with particular emphasis on transparency measures and
• implementation of the mutual recognition principle.

We will continue work in the various sectorial fields and in the aforementioned Council conclusions we will seek:
• to assess progress achieved and further improvement needed in the implementation of the Services Directive; and
• to consider the implementation of the European Retail Action Plan and the E-Procurement Strategy.

Talking about services on a wider scale, Lithuania will seek better implementation of the Services Directive and will support the initiative to analyse the transposition of this Directive into the national law of the Member States.

We will also seek to continue work on the requirements limiting company structures and capital ownership. We will support efforts to reflect these in country-specific recommendations for Member States in the context of the European Semester. I am clear that the implementation of these recommendations must be observed at the highest political level.

It is a great pleasure that we can coordinate this political work with the European Parliament. And I am grateful to Ms CORAZZA-BILDT for her initiative, the results of which we look forward to seeing in September and we look forward to the support of Ms. GEBHARDT to the process that she began. Your opinion is very important for us.

Sincere thanks and congratulations are due to our Irish colleagues and Ms VERGNAUD, as well as the IMCO Committee, whose brilliant efforts helped complete negotiations on the Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications. It is a great achievement.

Lithuania now has the opportunity to commence implementation of this Directive; so we are keen to agree on guidelines/methodology for the mutual evaluation of the regulated professions, while preparing to implement the Directive’s provisions on transparency.

In the field of retail trade, the Lithuanian Presidency will support measures relating to the dialogue between interested parties, and would like to encourage the activities of the High-Level Working Group on Retail.

We strongly support discussion on a more effective functioning of the market in this field by reducing the restrictions on establishment. This might develop into recommendations for the Member States. We appreciate the attention paid by the European Parliament to this area in recent years, and the current work carried out by Mr. DE JONG, with whom we hope to work closely.

Lithuania will encourage rapid progress on implementing the European Digital Agenda. Therefore, we will give priority to those legislative proposals which strengthen trust in the European Union’s economy and help the creation of a dynamic Digital Single Market.

We will press ahead with the proposal for a directive on collective rights management. On this issue Lithuania will seek agreement with the European Parliament.

We will also pursue work on the proposal for a regulation simplifying the transfer of motor vehicles registered in another Member State within the Single Market. Meanwhile, on recreational crafts and personal watercrafts, our thanks and congratulations go to our Irish colleagues and, of course, to you, Mr Chairman, whose sterling efforts enabled successful completion of the negotiations.

Thanks to exemplary inter-institutional co-ooperation and the extraordinary efforts of our Irish colleagues and the European Parliament, political agreement was reached on the Customs Code and the Customs 2020 program. I want to express my particular gratitude to you, Mr Chairman, as Chair of the Committee, as well as to the rapporteurs, Ms LE GRIP and Mr BALDASSARRE, for their excellent cooperation. We will, of course, now seek to ensure the smooth completion of legislative procedures.

There are also still more fields in which the Lithuanian Presidency will seek to ensure early progress:
• We will start discussion in the Council working group on the proposal as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information  and
• We will seek tangible progress in negotiations on the auditing package, the trademark package, and the Directive on Radio Equipment.

The second policy area is Modernisation of Public Administration
One of the objectives of modernising public administration is to improve the business environment and encourage economic growth.

We believe that electronic procurement is an important factor in developing more efficient public administration. We should simplify procurement, create better conditions for business, particularly SMEs, and facilitate cross-border public procurement.

Acknowledging the importance of the electronic procurement and e-invoicing in public procurement, we will focus on these issues at the Informal Competitiveness Council. We also seek agreement in the Council on the Directive on e-invoicing in public procurement.

State-owned enterprises account for a substantial share in national economies and, in most cases, provide important services to other sectors and companies. For this reason, the increased efficiency of state-owned enterprises could be an additional source of ensuring growth and competitiveness as well as the sustainability of public finances. This will be another theme tackled at the Informal Competitiveness Council.

We will also discuss improvement in the activities of the Points of Single Contact in implementing the Services Directive. We want to encourage Governments to implement a Point of Single Contact Charter and define further guidelines for better regulation.

We will seek more efficient employment of smart regulation tools enhancing the industrial competitiveness and lower compliance costs. More efficient application of smart regulation tools (such as the SME test, competitiveness proofing, etc) and the use of best practice in the Member States will be emphasised. We also plan to evaluate how impact assessments carried out by the Commission are used in practice in the work of the Council’s bodies.

I am very grateful to Mr. HARBOUR, rapporteurs Mr. TARRABELLA and Mr. JUVIN, Irish colleagues for their excellent cooperation and constructive work while seeking agreement on  Public Procurement package. This is an important package, therefore we believe that reached political agreement will be confirmed soon.

The third field: Consumer-related matters
In the field of consumer rights protection, priority will be given to the Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package. Continuing the work commenced under the Irish Presidency, we will make every effort to achieve progress on both Regulations in order to be able to adopt the package by the spring of 2014.

We are hoping for constructive work involving Ms PIETIKAINEN and Ms SCHALDEMOSE and the entire Committee so that the Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package can create a basis for the circulation of safe products in the single market, and provide for simpler and more effective market surveillance procedures. The strengthening of product safety and market surveillance should be focused on fair business promotion and job creation. 

During the Lithuanian Presidency, we hope for your close cooperation in completing negotiations on the Regulation on the Consumer Programme 2014-2020, which serves as the basis for the successful achievement of the objectives laid down in the Consumer Agenda.

Mr Chairman, Honourable Members,
In the hope of an enjoyable, mutually beneficial and successful cooperation with your Committee over the next 6 months, I would like to thank you for your attention today. And now, Mr Chairman, I would be glad to answer any questions that the Committee might have and to hear your suggestions and comments. 
Thank you very much.

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