(L-R) Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy & Agriculture; Lex Delles, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, SMEs, Energy & Tourism; Credit: Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union / Julien Nizet

As part of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, SMEs, Energy and Tourism, Lex Delles, attended the informal meeting of EU competitiveness ministers in Genk on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 February 2024.

As reported by Luxembourg's Ministry of the Economy, Minister Delles also had the opportunity to visit EnergyVille, an experimental laboratory (or "sandbox") located on an industrial wasteland which makes it possible to test technologies in the field of renewable energy and decarbonisation, in collaboration with universities and research centres. For the minister, this represents an innovative model from which Luxembourg could also draw inspiration.

To face international competition, he said during the meeting, "we must strengthen innovation in Europe as a starting point - among other things through administrative simplification, and develop it further, including marketing, to strengthen manufacturing productivity in Europe."

He also noted that European companies face global markets that are dictated by different values. He described the acceleration of administrative procedures, as provided for in the instrument for a net-zero industry, for example, as an important element in anchoring the establishment of industrial production in Europe.

During the ministerial debate, emphasis was placed on long-term European industrial policy and the way in which the EU can strengthen its strategic autonomy while remaining competitive and open to the world. Faced with the observation that the EU's regulatory action in recent years was mainly dictated by reactions to external challenges and crises, Minister Delles called for a more proactive approach based on Europe's strengths, noting that "the internal market is our strongest asset."

He added that in order to grow and compete internationally, "our businesses need one set of rules to remain competitive and resilient - not 27 divergent sets of rules." He further explored this message during the ministers' working lunch with Enrico Letta, tasked by the European Council with developing a high-level report on the future of the internal market.