HELSINKI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The combat against climate change as a business opportunity that needs major investments was a key message as EU ministers responsible for competitiveness convened in Helsinki on Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, it was also mentioned that the performance of the EU single market had worsened of late.
The event was co-hosted by Katri Kulmuni, the Finnish minister for economic affairs, and Timo Harakka, the Finnish minister for labor. Finland began its tenure as EU presidency country this week.
Kulmuni expressed confidence in the feasibility of transforming Europe to be "the world's most competitive and socially cohesive climate neutral economy". European companies could become front-runners in the technology promoting climate neutrality.
She underlined the need that political and business sectors move towards the same direction. "When the transition is fair, it is also socially, regionally and economically sustainable," she told the media.
Harakka said labor and competitive issues belong together. Harakka underlined that mobility of the labor force has to be encouraged, "but it has to be rule-based and has to be monitored."
He welcomed the EU decision last month to establish a European Labor Authority that will help the EU and member states in monitoring the movements of labor. The agency will start work in Bratislava, Slovakia, in October.
SINGLE MARKET PERFORMANCE
Elzbieta Bienkowska, the EU commissioner for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, expressed concern about a decline in the performance of member states in implementing the single market.
"We have more barriers in the single market than a few years ago," she said. Bienkowska referred to the 2019 single market scoreboard. "This is very serious," she said at the press conference.
Bienkowska stressed that there will be "no European competitive industry without a well-functioning single market".
She also said the "more complex geopolitics" is a challenge, besides the climate change, digitization and demographic changes.
Bienkowska described the talks in Helsinki as "open and frank". "This is a crucial time to discuss the future of our economy, our industries and the single market. Those three are very interlinked," she said.
She elaborated that the meeting reflected broad agreement on the need for a "new, more integrated and holistic approach to competitiveness and industrial policy."