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Irish Presidency secures progress on another key EU Single Market measure

29.05.2013, 19:00 GMT


Competitiveness Council meets in Brussels as agreement reached on Union Customs Code

The Irish Presidency has secured progress on another key EU Single Market measure that will boost intra-EU trade, according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.

Agreement has been reached with the European Parliament on the EU’s Union Customs Code (UCC) as Industry Ministers, currently chaired by Minister Bruton, met in Brussels.

The UCC modernises the EU’s customs regulation and further facilitates and supports intra-EU trade. It will advance the objective of maximising the efficient and effective functioning of the EU’s Single Market. The use of the latest information and communication technologies by customs officials within the EU is a key element in promoting trade and reducing costs, while at the same time improving the effectiveness of customs controls.

Minister Bruton was today chairing the Competitiveness Council meeting. Commission Vice President with responsibility for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, and Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, also attended today’s meeting. Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock will chair the second day of the Competitiveness Council for Research and Innovation Ministers tomorrow.

Ministers discussed a number of important EU initiatives including proposals to reform audit regulations and the rules for state aid. They also discussed the implementation of the outstanding pieces of Single Market legislation, a number of copyright reform proposals and EU industrial policy.

Minister Bruton said: “This agreement on the modernised Union Customs Code will promote increased trade within the EU. It will facilitate more efficient and simpler clearance procedures and more effective controls against fraud and illegal trade.

Minister Bruton (on Union Customs Code) - "It is a significant step forward. Overall its implementation will help to improve the competitiveness of the Union and strengthen the Single Market.”

“In keeping with the Irish Presidency’s priorities of stability, jobs and growth, I have been working hard to achieve progress on these proposals. Today’s agreement follows on from the success we’ve already achieved on the Accounting Directive and the signing of the Unitary Patent Court Agreement.”

“At today’s meeting we discussed the European Commission proposals for auditor rotation, restriction on the provision of audit-related services and the list of services in this area to be prohibited and co-operation of national oversight bodies for auditors."

Minister Bruton - "These reforms will help to ensure more effective supervision of business practices within the EU. This will increase confidence in companies’ financial statements, encouraging corporate investment and support economic growth and job creation.”

“The discussion was useful and helped to clarify Member States’ positions on the proposals and gives significant impetus on further work to bring the audit dossier to a positive conclusion. There is broad support for the principles of mandatory auditor rotation and a “blacklist” of the audit-related services that auditors cannot provide to their clients, subject to some further work. Further consideration is required regarding the format of co-operation of Member States’ audit oversight authorities.”

“I also expect agreement on the Commission’s proposals to reform the state aid framework. Changes to the EU’s existing Procedural and Enabling Regulations will ensure more efficient and transparent monitoring of state aid by the Commission, improved data-gathering processes and improved co-operation between the Commission and the Member States’ national courts.

Minister Bruton - "The reforms will also enable the Commission to focus on large and potentially distortive state aids, while simplifying the procedures for ‘good aid’. Overall these reforms will help the EU achieve its Europe 2020 Agenda as well as promoting budget consolidation.”

“At today's meeting we discussed proposals aimed at modernising the EU's copyright regime including the proposed Directive on Collective Rights Management which is a priority of the Irish Presidency. In addition, we had very constructive engagement on the issue of private copying levies based on a Report by former EU Commissioner António Vitorino. Ministers also received an update on the outstanding pieces of regulation for the Single Market Acts I and II.”

“We also had a productive discussion on industrial policy within the EU, with a particular focus on increasing manufacturing activity and jobs. Our goal will be to reach the EU’s goal of increasing manufacturing’s share of total EU GDP from 16% currently to 20% in 2020.”

ENDS

Read factsheet on what the Irish EU Presidency has achieved for competitiveness.

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Permanent Representation Brussels

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