Strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy is one of the European Union’s main priorities. In 2002, the Competitiveness Council was formed by merging the Internal Market Council, the Industry Council and the Research Council. It is responsible for developing a coherent European Union policy of competitiveness. The most salient formulation of EU policy on fostering competitiveness in recent years was the Lisbon Strategy, adopted at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000.

Priorities of the Czech Presidency


  • The Lisbon Process and National Reform Programmes

The new three-year cycle of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs was initiated by adopting the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (2008-2010) in the first half of 2008, when a fundamental debate was held on the aims and priorities of the Lisbon Strategy. By virtue of the new Integrated Guidelines, in autumn 2008 Member States will adopt National Reform Programmes for this second cycle in 2008-2010.

During the Czech Presidency – in the first half of the year – the standard process of evaluating new National Reform Programmes in the context of multilateral examinations will take place within the Council’s working bodies. Compliance with the Lisbon Strategy will be discussed in the annual Progress Report prepared by the Commission; the Czech Republic will then have the task of formulating mutually consistent messages for the Council’s different configurations in preparation for the EU’s Spring Summit. The Spring European Council will, among other things, address the first evaluation, or the substance, of these new National Reform Programmes.

For the Czech Republic, a key element of the Strategy for Growth and Jobs is long-term sustainable growth performance and competitiveness, as it relates to the transition to a knowledge-based economy. The Czech Republic will primarily focus on streamlining the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy priorities and continuing the implementation of the action adopted after the review in 2005. The objective is to achieve the realistic targets agreed upon, with a particular emphasis on accomplishing long-term economic growth. In this respect, the Czech Republic will promote the stability and continuity of the whole process in the light of current challenges and opportunities for Europe, even as regards discussions on the future of the Lisbon Strategy after 2010. The Lisbon Strategy after 2010 will be another main theme of the scheduled meeting of national Lisbon coordinators, to be held in Prague in April 2009.

  • SME policy

The Czech Presidency will discuss the implementation of measures under the Small Business Act for Europe, a package of legislative and non-legislative measures submitted by the Commission in June 2008. The Czech Republic will continue to encourage the consistent application of the ‘Think Small First’ principle, especially in the simplification of regulation, the restriction of the administrative burden on businesses, and better SME access to Community programmes.


As a country with a long-standing industrial tradition, the Czech Presidency will concentrate on sustainable industrial policy sectors enhancing the competitiveness of European industry on both the internal and the global market. It will thus address the implementation of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan and documents related thereto. Discussions of the Council’s conclusions on this issue and documents accompanying the action plan began during the French Presidency. However, this is a priority area for the entire trio Presidency.

With a view to improving the competitiveness of the European Union, attention will also be paid to the evaluation of the benefits gained from implementing existing initiatives. The conclusions will include a discussion on the most important initiatives, such as the mid-term review of the CARS 21 initiative, responses to the conclusions of the High Level Group on the Chemicals Industry, and the strategy on the approach to raw materials. The Czech Republic regards it as crucial to improve the framework conditions for business via the application of a better regulation principle, emphasising the need to reduce the existing administrative burden and exploit innovations.

Following up on the European Commission’s activities, the Czech Republic may launch a debate on the direction to be taken by the EU’s industrial policy after 2010.

Internal market

The Czech Presidency supports a liberal internal market and the efficient implementation of the relevant legislation. The Czech Presidency’s motto, ‘A Europe without Barriers’ fully highlights the importance of the four freedoms – the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital. One of the Czech Presidency’s priorities is to overcome the remaining barriers to the European Union’s internal market that Member States do not explicitly declare but which still have a significant influence on the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital.

  • Free movement of goods

The Czech Presidency will mainly concentrate on defence goods. In December 2007, after years of effort the European Commission came up with specific legislative initiatives (in the form of a defence package) to reduce the administrative burden and facilitate the access of small and medium-sized enterprises to the defence market. There should also be an improvement in public procurement for defence goods, and the movement of such goods on the EU internal market is set to be simplified. These measures will result in the increasing competitiveness of the European armaments industry and the greater reliability of supplies of such technologies.

In addition, in the field of the free movement of goods, the Czech Presidency will seek opportunities to make progress in debates on old directives relating to toys, measuring apparatus and construction products. The review of this legislation will ensure that only safe products continue to make their way to consumers.

  • Free movement of persons and capital

The Czech Presidency is also committed to eliminating numerous transitional periods which have restricted the effective application of the principle of the free movement of persons and which disturb the perception of the internal market as a practical expression of Europe’s solidarity and consistency. The Czech Presidency’s priorities also include active support for the creation of a homogeneous environment for the free movement of capital. In addition, the Czech Presidency will promote a review of the Insurance Mediation Directive, legislation on credit intermediaries, and the harmonisation of mortgage services.

  • Free movement of services and the Services Directive

From the perspective of the four freedoms, the free movement of services is the least functional. The timely and correct implementation of the Services Directive, designed to reinforce competition on the services market and simplify the provision of cross-border services, should overcome most of the barriers. The Directive on Services in the Internal Market was adopted in late 2006, but will not become binding upon Member States until the end of 2009.

The Czech Republic, as a country with sound service export potential, regards the implementation of the Services Directive as one of its priorities. As the deadline for the implementation of the Directive will slowly be nearing under the Czech Presidency, the Czech Presidency will initiate a discussion on the results of implementing the Directive and, where appropriate, will propose the way forward in deepening the liberalisation of the services sector in the EU.

  • Community patent

The Czech Presidency will actively continue its efforts to improve the patent system in Europe, in particular to make fundamental progress in the preparation of the integrated judiciary for patents and the creation of a single Community patent.


Under the Czech Presidency, eleven conferences on research and development will be held, all of which fall within the official calendar of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Some will take place in cooperation with the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and its Technology Centre. For instance, there will be a conference on foreseeable developments in nanotechnology and a conference on future emerging technologies. A number of accompanying events will take place in the field of research and development, with the participation of the regions and the European Commission.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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