The Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Chris Cardona, attended the Competitiveness Council meeting in Brussels where EU Ministers held their first discussion on the Single Market Strategy for goods and services, and better regulation.

During the first part of the council meeting, the second edition of the 'competitiveness check-up' was discussed.

The check-up included the presentation of a report on the state of play and outlook with regard to competitiveness mainstreaming, which is a process that seeks to ensure that EU policies have a positive impact on competitiveness.

The check-up took into account the key indicators on integration and competitiveness in the EU and its member states, where Malta is among the best performers for foreign direct investment, export of services (including intra-EU exports) and extra-EU exports.

The EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Ms. Elzbieta Bienkowska, gave a presentation on the current trends of the international competitiveness of European businesses.

The presentation showed that the EU competitive advantage lies in high value activities across all sectors, and in the fact that the EU export market share in high unit-value segments is the highest and still growing. Furthermore, the EU is maintaining high market shares in global export markets.

During the discussion, ministers were also allowed to put forward priorities and to respond to urgent issues and developments in the real economy. It included an exchange of views on the relationship between the state of the internal market integration and the competitiveness of the EU in global markets.

The discussion then focused on the new Single Market Strategy for goods and services.

Minister Cardona said that, whilst Malta broadly welcomes the Single Market Strategy, which provides a new impetus for jobs and growth in the EU, Malta is, however, calling for more ambition to be showed in this area. "This is an area in which new business models are constantly emerging, and it's important that we do not hamper innovation and growth." Cardona stated. On the other hand, any legislation emanating from this strategy should ensure that the realities and specificities of member states are addressed.

The subject of better regulation was also on the agenda of the Council meeting. While welcoming the Commission's efforts to step up the reinforcement of existing tools and processes, such as REFIT, Minister Cardona called on the Commission "to develop and put in place targets in particularly difficult areas especially for SMEs," as was called for in last year's Competitiveness Council conclusions. 

To improve the functioning of the single market for further growth, Malta considers that there is a need to see what the specific needs are in a particular sector first, before assessing which tool is best to remove any internal market barriers subsequently identified.


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