With the entry into force, in November 1993, of the Treaty of Maastricht [see section 2.2], industrial competitiveness became one of the stated objectives of European integration. Article 6 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (TFEU) declares that the Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States concerning, inter alia, industry. The Title on Industry of the TFEU announces that the Union and the Member States must ensure the existence of the conditions necessary for the competitiveness of the Union's industry. For that purpose, in accordance with a system of open and competitive markets, their action aims at: speeding up the adjustment of industry to structural changes; encouraging an environment favourable to initiative and to the development of undertakings throughout the Community, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); encouraging an environment favourable to cooperation between undertakings; and fostering better exploitation of the industrial potential of innovation and research and technological development policies (Article 173 TFEU, ex Article 157 TEC).
This article forms the legal basis for Union action in the fields of industry and business. It specifies however that it does not provide a basis for the introduction by the Union of any measures that could lead to a distortion of competition or contain tax provisions or provisions relating to the rights and interests of employed persons. The objectives set out above may be pursued by the following means: the mutual consultation of the Member States and, where necessary, the coordination of their action, in liaison with the Commission, concerning, in particular initiatives aiming at the establishment of guidelines and indicators, the organisation of exchange of best practice, and the preparation of the necessary elements for periodic monitoring and evaluation; the coordination with other Union policies and activities; and specific measures in support of action taken in the Member States, but excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States, decided by the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee. These clauses denote the reluctance of the Member States to weaken national policies in favour of a common industrial policy. Hence, most industrial policy in Europe is carried out not at EU level but at national level.
Yet, industrial competitiveness depends on policies such as competition, the internal market, research and development, education, trade and sustainable development. Therefore, the common industrial policy must ensure that other common policies contribute to the competitiveness of Europe's industry. It therefore covers a very wide field, while many of its instruments are the instruments of other policy fields [COM/2002/714]. The common industrial strategy is based on three principles: consistent recourse to all common policies with a bearing on industrial activity, in particular that of protection of the environment [Council Resolution]; improved access of European businesses to non-European markets and to measures against unfair trading practices and in favour of international industrial cooperation [Council Resolution, see sections 23.2.2. and 23.4].
Following the Lisbon strategy objectives [see also section 13.3.2], the competitiveness and innovation framework programme (CIP, 2007-2013) aims to contribute to the competitiveness and innovative capacity of the European Union as an advanced knowledge society, with sustainable development based on robust economic growth and a highly competitive social market economy with a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment [Decision 1639/2006]. It has the following objectives: to foster the competitiveness of enterprises, in particular of SMEs; to promote all forms of innovation including eco-innovation; to accelerate the development of a sustainable, competitive, innovative and inclusive information society; to promote energy efficiency and new and renewable energy sources in all sectors, including transport. These objectives are pursued through the implementation of three programmes: (a) the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme [see section 17.2]; (b) the Information and Communications Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP); and (c) the Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme [see section 19.1.3]. The framework programme should contribute to closing the gap between research and innovation and promote all forms of innovation, but it does not cover research, technological development and demonstration activities carried out in accordance with Article 182 of the TFEU [see section 18.4].
The ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) aims at stimulating innovation and competitiveness through the wider uptake and best use of ICT by citizens, governments and businesses, particularly Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. The programme facilitates the development of lead markets for innovative ICT-based solutions notably in areas of public interest and opens a wide range of new business opportunities in particular for innovative SMEs. It does so by creating wider market opportunities and better services for SMEs rather than providing them with direct subsidies. The aim is to optimise the use of the resources available for the programme and to build on and complement national, regional and other EU initiatives.
The ICT PSP is one of the main financial instruments of the i2010 initiative that promotes an open and competitive digital economy and emphasises ICT as a driver of inclusion and quality of life [COM/2005/229]. i2010 is a key element of the Lisbon strategy with the following objectives concerning Europe’s information society:
- the completion of a Single European Information Space which promotes an open and competitive internal market for information society and media;
- strengthening Innovation and Investment in ICT research to promote growth and more and better jobs;
- achieving an Inclusive European Information Society that is consistent with sustainable development and that prioritises better public services and quality of life.
In the context of the ''Europe 2020 Strategy'' [see section 7.3], a Regulation lays down uniform requirements and conditions for managers of collective investment undertakings that wish to use the designation "EuVECA" (European Venture Capital Funds) in relation to the marketing of qualifying venture capital funds in the Union [Regulation 345/2013]. In the same context, a Regulation lays down uniform requirements and conditions for managers of collective investment undertakings that wish to use the designation "EuSEF" (European Social Entrepreneurship Funds) in relation to the marketing of qualifying social entrepreneurship funds in the Union [Regulation 346/2013].