Informal ministerial meetings in Sweden

Informal Meeting of Competitiveness Ministers

An informal meeting of the EU competitiveness ministers was held in Umeå on 14–16 October.

Photo: Gunnar Seijbold/Regeringskansliet

Janez Potočnik, Tobias Krantz and Mauro Dell'Ambrogio

How can we all – citizens, companies and consumers – make better use of our right to move freely in the EU internal market? And how can we, in the EU, remove barriers to increase trade in services? These issues were discussed by Minister for Trade Ewa Björling and her European colleagues during the first day of the meeting.

The transition to an eco-efficient economy was the theme for the second day, which was chaired by Minister for Enterprise and Energy Maud Olofsson. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how Europe can enhance its competitiveness while at the same time addressing today’s climate and energy challenges.

The final day of the meeting, chaired by Minister for Higher Education and Research Tobias Krantz, focused on how to strengthen European research and innovation cooperation so that Europe can be better prepared for future challenges.

Pre-meeting news

Post-meeting news


14, 15, 16 October


  • Nolia

    Signalvägen 3

    Umeå, Sweden



Ministry in charge

Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Education and Research


  • Ann Lindh

    Desk Officer, Ministry for Foreign Affairs

    +46 8 405 50 63

    +46 76 137 91 43

  • Beata Matusiak

    Deputy Director, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications

    +46 8 405 12 15

    +46 70 639 48 28

  • Olof Sandberg

    Senior Adviser, Ministry of Education and Research

  • Marianne Raidna

    Desk Officer, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications

    +46 8 405 34 04

    +46 70 752 31 48

  • Monica Ohlsson

    Press Secretary to the Minister for Trade Ewa Björling

    +46 8 405 10 00

  • Frank Nilsson

    Press Secretary to the Minister for Enterprise and Energy Maud Olofsson

    +46 8 405 10 00

  • Eva-Marie Byberg

    Press Secretary to the Minister for Higher Education and Research Tobias Krantz

    +46 8 405 10 00

  • Karin Anderberg

    Media Attaché

    +46 8 405 10 00

  • Ellinor Lundmark

    Desk Officer, Ministry for Foreign Affairs

    08 405 59 35

    0708 27 48 65

  • Lotta Serning

    Information Officer, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications

    +46 8 405 23 41

    +46 70 216 90 15

  • Susan Berg

    Information Officer, Ministry of Education and Research

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External Resources

  • Obtain accreditation for the meeting

Comments from blogs

Decision-making process

EU legislation

  • The Council of the EU Decides
  • The European Parliament Decides
  • Coreper (Commitee of Permanent Representatives) Prepare
  • The European Parliament's committees Prepare
  • Working groups Prepare
  • The European Commisson Propose legislation
  • Informal ministerial meetings Give inputs

The Council of the European Union is the EU’s highest decision-making body. It consists of one minister from each Member State who has the authority to make binding decisions for his or her government. Which minister participates from each Member State depends on the type of issue being discussed. The minister from the country holding the Presidency chairs the meetings.

The European Parliament passes new laws together with the Council, based on proposals from the Commission. The Parliament’s influence varies depending on the issues discussed. Normally, decisions are made in ‘codecision’ between the Parliament and Council which means that the Council must accept the European Parliament's amendment proposals in order to pass new legislation.

Coreper – the Committee of Permanent Representatives – prepares for Council meetings. All issues must pass through Coreper before they can be included on the agenda for a Council meeting. Coreper meets in two configurations, Coreper II and Coreper I, dealing with different subject areas. Coreper II is made up of the Permanent Representatives (the ambassadors) from the Member States, who work at the Permanent Representations in Brussels. Coreper I is made up of the Deputy Permanent Representatives (the ambassadors’ deputies).

The European Parliament’s proposals are considered in one of the parliamentary committees. There are twenty permanent committees, divided into subject areas, for example foreign affairs or the budget. The European Parliament can also appoint temporary committees for up to twelve months, with the possibility of extension. One of the committee members writes the committee’s report on a particular issue. In this function, he or she is called the rapporteur and has great influence over the way in which the report is drawn up.

Council working groups and committees are responsible for preparing all issues before they are referred to Coreper and finally to ministerial level. The working groups and committees are made up of senior officials, either from the Member States’ Permanent Representations in Brussels or from ministries in their capital cities.

The European Commission proposes new laws for the European Parliament and the Council to consider. It consists of one member from each Member State and it makes collective decisions. That means that the Commissioners support all decisions made, even those outside their respective subject area. The decisions are normally made without a vote, but if a Commissioner demands a vote, this is carried out. In these cases, absolute majority is required for a proposal to be accepted.

The European Council is also referred to as the EU summits and consists of the heads of state or government of the Member States together with the President of the Commission. They meet once or twice every six months to draw up political guidelines for the EU’s development.

The EU Presidency usually organises a number of informal ministerial meetings in the country holding the Presidency. No formal decisions are made at these meetings. The meetings instead offer an opportunity for the ministers to discuss current EU issues freely. One purpose is to provide an informal setting in which to solve problems and pave the way for decisions on difficult issues on the Council's ordinary agenda.

The EU cooperation involves striking a balance between the views of a number of parties on various levels. To assess the progress made on a certain issue and to enable the parties to put forward new proposals, conferences and different types of meetings are often arranged. No binding decisions are made at these conferences , but they still serve an important function in that they prepare the way for the formal steps in the EU's decision-making process.

The EU maintains regular dialogue with a very large number of countries and groups of countries outside the EU. These meetings with countries outside the EU are also known as ‘third country meetings’. The Presidency plans, coordinates and chairs the meetings. During the Swedish Presidency, around 280 such meetings will take place, some in Sweden and some in Brussels, New York and other countries outside the EU.