Chemicals, stem cell research and ITER are priorities for Council meeting

The Competitiveness Council will focus on several highly contested issues in its meeting on 22 September in Brussels.

On 22 September, the Competitiveness Council, which deals with internal market, industry and research issues, will hold its formal meeting in Brussels. In particular, the Council will discuss the following dossiers:

Chemicals review:

The revision of the EU's chemical substances policy aims at improving the testing of chemical substances before putting them on the market. The Commission's proposals are highly controversial, and have caused fierce debates amongst stakeholders, notably between environmental NGOs and the chemical industry. The German and French governments are particularly opposed to the draft directive (see

EURACTIV 18 September 2003)

Stem Cell research:

The Council will discuss the controversial Commission proposal setting guidelines for the funding of embryonic stem-cell research under the Sixth Framework Programme. The new rules are due to be adopted before the current moratorium on embryo research terminates at the end of 2003 (see

EURACTIV 11 July 2003).

Investment in research - the 3 per cent objective:
The Council will also deal with the Commission's Communication on 'Investing in research: an action plan for Europe' which sets out the actions required on the national and European level to create a stronger public research base and to attract more private investment in research and innovation to the EU, with the aim of increasing investment in R&D to 3 per cent of GDP by 2010 (see EURACTIV


Space Policy:

The Council will discuss the Framework agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency which the Commission has negotiated on behalf of the European Community since March 2002. This proposed agreement will cover all aspects of a future cooperation including cooperation areas and targets, as well as technical aspects such as financial provisions and organisation.


A decision concerning the site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) initiative is expected from the Council meeting. Candidates for the hard-fought site are Vandellos in Spain and Cadarache in France. ITER is a new experimental reactor producing a high level of energy through the fusion of hydrogen nuclei at very high temperatures.

Biotechnology Strategy:

The Council will discuss the progress made in implementing the strategy, which the Commission had proposed in a Communication in January 2002 (see

EURACTIV 15 May 2003).

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