§ Mrs. Liddell
I represented the UK at the Internal Market Council in Brussels on 25 May.
The Council discussed the Commission's first review of the Internal Market Strategy and broadly endorsed its priority actions, although I emphasised that the UK could not endorse every action, such as some of those relating to tax. The Commission presented the latest version of the Single Market Scoreboard and France and Sweden outlined their priorities for the Single Market for their Presidencies in the context of the Joint Work Programme of the Three Presidencies. The Council approved the draft Conclusions on the review of the Simpler Legislation in the Internal Market (SLIM) initiative, which took full account of input from the UK. The Council also endorsed the report of discussions of the Commission's White Paper on Food Safety. The Commission's draft eEurope Action Plan, which is to be implemented by the end of 2002 and is intended to enhance European competitiveness by accelerating e-commerce, reducing internet access costs and promoting skills and training, was welcomed.
The Council reached political agreement on the Winding up of Insurance Undertakings Directive (with Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg abstaining) and the Clinical Trials Directive, which will harmonise the procedures and standards of clinical trials for medicine (with Austria abstaining). The Honey Directive (with UK and Belgium abstaining) and the Chocolate Directive (with Belgium voting against) were agreed as "A" points.
The Commission presented its proposals for amending the Directives on public procurement and reported progress on the Community Design and on its proposals for making permanent its temporary ban on the use of phthalates in toys and child care articles. The Commission announced that it had decided not to carry out further work on international exhaustion of trademarks, though a number of member states, including the UK, argued that the issue needed further consideration; the Council agreed to revert to the subject at a future session.
There was no agreement on the Copyright in the Information Society Directive, which updates the framework of EU copyright law to take account of digital technology and the internet. The Council attempted to resolve issues relating to exceptions to copyright and made good progress in identifying the likely framework for a deal. Discussions will continue at Coreper, with the Portuguese intending to achieve political agreement during their Presidency.255W
Over lunch, the Council discussed the follow-up to the Lisbon European Council.