Minister Harakka and Minister Kulmuni to chair Competitiveness Council in Brussels

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 27.11.2019 11.17
Press release
Timo Harakka and Katri Kulmuni

The EU Competitiveness Council will meet in Brussels on 28 and 29 November, chaired by Minister of Employment Timo Harakka and Minister of Economic Affairs Katri Kulmuni.

Strengthening consumer rights and disclosure of tax information

On Thursday 28 November, the ministers responsible for internal market and industry will deal with two legislative proposals: a directive on public country-by-country disclosure of income tax information and a directive on representative actions for consumers. The Thursday session will be chaired by Minister Timo Harakka.

The proposed directive on country-by-country reporting requires large multinational enterprises to disclose the income tax they have paid.

The need for increased openness in tax reporting had become clear by 2016 in connection with the Panama Papers leak. The Commission presented its proposal for public country-by-country reporting that same year.

“Country-by-country tax reporting also benefits Finnish enterprises. The market economy works when companies compete with the quality of their products and services, and not by tax avoidance,” Minister Harakka says.

There is far-reaching political agreement on the content of the legislative proposal, but the negotiations have been trapped in a deadlock for a long time due to a disagreement over the legal basis.

“If our proposal is adopted, large companies will be obliged to publicly disclose the profits they have made and the taxes they have paid in each EU member state. This directive is needed in order to increase the transparency of business activities and to fight tax avoidance and evasion. I hope that we will agree a position at the meeting,” Minister Harakka says.

The proposed directive on representative actions for consumers, which enhances collective access to justice for consumers, is part of the New Deal for Consumers. The purpose of the directive is to ensure that European consumers have an effective legal remedy in cases where the common interest of a group of consumers has been violated. At the same time, the directive would protect commercial operators from unjustified representative actions. The directive would entail a fairer competitive environment for businesses, thus improving the functioning of the single market.

Ministers will also discuss the external dimension of European competitiveness. The aim is to continue the topical debate on European industrial policy and to emphasise the importance and development of a competitive operating environment in order to ensure that EU businesses compete efficiently and on equal terms with their competitors in the global market. The aim is also to inform the new Commission as it prepares EU-level actions for the next five-year period.

Over lunch, ministers will discuss the future of SME policy, chaired by Minister Katri Kulmuni.

Sustainable space economy and Horizon Europe

Minister of Economic Affairs Katri Kulmuni will chair the meeting of the ministers responsible for research and space on Friday 29 November.

The Council will adopt conclusions on space solutions for a sustainable Arctic and discuss the sustainable space economy.

In the session on research, the Council will be invited to agree partial general approaches on three initiatives.

Research ministers will seek a partial general approach on a number of the recitals and annex IV (Synergies) of the Horizon Europe regulation as well as on the draft regulation on the European Institute of Technology (EIT). The Council will also take note of a progress report on the draft decision on the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the EIT. The amendments to the EIT Regulation are aimed at simplifying and clarifying the activities and governance model of the EIT.

The Council will also seek a partial general approach on the regulation text of the Euratom research programme.

“The issues under discussion are important elements in the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2021–2027. They are central aspects of research and innovation in Europe,” Minister Kulmuni says.

In addition, the Council is set to adopt conclusions on the updated EU bioeconomy strategy.

Over lunch, ministers will exchange views on the contribution of Horizon Europe to attracting private R&D investments for sustainable growth.

Inquiries:
Jenni Karjalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 224
Pauliina Porkka, Adviser to the Minister of Employment (EU and International Affairs), Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 048 278

Jari Partanen, State Secretary to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 40 591 1377
Nina Alatalo, Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs (EU and International Affairs), Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 431 8015

Janne Känkänen, Director for EU and International Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 506 4200
Anniina Lehtonen, Communications Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 476 3736