R&D a vital cog in EU single market vision
Stimulating innovation among small businesses is a central tenet of the EU’s single market vision unveiled today and new structures such as ‘researcher passports’, interoperability of e-government systems and EU patent protection are outlined.
The European Commission will also make proposals to improve financial literacy and facilitate the switching of bank accounts without a closing fee.
The commission will propose a Small Business Act in 2008, which will aim to cut red tape, increase small to medium-sized enterprise access to European programmes, increase their share of the public procurement contracts and reduce obstacles to cross- border activity.
A new standardisation strategy will aim to help the results of R&D to find their way to markets and to boost take up of energy-saving technologies.
Building on the electronic communications package presented last week by telecoms commissioner Viviene Reding, a flagship of the new single market, the commission will in 2008 present initiatives on universal service and on the interoperability of e-government systems.
The commission will seek progress on common EU patent protection and propose a researcher passport to boost mobility of researchers.
"Today's package puts consumers and small businesses first. It marks the start of a new cycle for the single market," said European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso.
"We need to make the strong base we already have work even better. We aim to empower consumers and small businesses through initiatives such as the consumer scoreboard, the Small Business Act and the single market assistance service. We will act to remove bottlenecks where single market benefits are not being fully passed on to customers, as we have done in the mobile phone roaming market.
"A single market for all means a strong social dimension, which is why we are also presenting today the commission's social vision and a specific way forward on services and social services of general interest," Barroso continued.
"This balanced package will mean a single market that does more to boost Europe's response to globalisation, to create growth and jobs, to ensure fair prices and to contribute to social and environmental protection," he added.
By John Kennedy