The European Commission this week presented its plans for completing work on President Jean-Claude Juncker’s ten political priorities before the end of its mandate, as well as a series of forward-looking initiatives for the future of Europe.
“Europe is regaining its strength, and we must take advantage of this renewed momentum,” President Juncker said in a statement. “We have already put on the table eighty per cent of the proposals we promised when this Commission took office. The priority must now be on turning proposals into law, and law into practice. The sooner the European Parliament and the Council complete their work, the sooner we will see the benefits of our joint efforts.”
Every year, the European Commission adopts a Work Programme setting out the list of actions it will take in the year ahead. The Work Programme informs the public and co-legislators of its political commitments to present new initiatives, withdraw pending proposals, and review existing EU legislation.
The European Commission stated that preparation of the 2018 Work Programme has been enriched by consultations with the European Parliament and Council in the context of the Inter-institutional Agreement on Better Law-Making and the Framework Agreement on relations between the Parliament and the European Commission, and based on the Letter of Intent sent by President Juncker and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans on 13 September, after the State of the European Union address.
As a continuation of President Juncker’s 2017 State of the Union Address, the European Commission on 24 October 2017 presented its plans for completing its work. “The Commission Work Programme adopted today will ensure that Europe’s focus remains firmly on the things where European action has most added value,” Timmermans said in a statement.
The new Work Programme sets out concrete proposals for the year ahead to complete the European Commission’s work.
According to the European Commission, the focus of the 26 new initiatives in this year’s Work Programme is two-fold. “First, there are targeted legislative actions to complete our work in priority policy areas, which will all be tabled by May 2018 to allow the European Parliament and Council to complete the legislative work before the European elections of June 2019,” the European Commission stated.
“Secondly, the Work Programme presents ambitious actions and initiatives that have a more forward-looking perspective, as the new Union of 27 shapes its own future for 2025 and beyond,” the European Commission stated. These proposals reflect the debate kick-started by the Commission's White Paper on the future of Europe and President Juncker's 2017 State of the Union Address.
To ensure a focus on delivery, the Work Programme identifies 66 priority-pending proposals presented in the past two years, in which “swift adoption” by the Parliament and Council is needed, the Commission stated. It further suggested withdrawing 15 pending proposals, where there is no foreseeable agreement or where they no longer serve their purpose or are technically outdated.
The Work Programme proposes 15 proposals that follow on from regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT) reviews of current laws, taking into account the opinions of the REFIT Platform. Effective application and enforcement of EU law by member states will also be a priority, to ensure that citizens and businesses experience the intended benefits. The Commission will repeal three obsolete pieces of legislation.
Moving forward, the 2018 Work Programme includes numerous initiatives that look toward 2025 and beyond. From 30 March 2019, the European Union will be a Union of 27 Member States, and now is the time to shape this More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union, the Commission stated.
A more united Union “will require a credible enlargement perspective for frontrunner candidates in the Western Balkans,” the Commission stated. “To build a stronger Union, the Commission will table a proposal for the future multi-annual financial framework and will also propose more efficient single market law-making and more efficiency and consistency in implementing the Common Foreign Policy.”
“We will adopt a reflection paper on a sustainable European future and a communication on the future of EU energy and climate policy, and propose an extension of the tasks of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to also tackle terrorism,” the Commission stated.
Finally, the Commission stated, “For a more democratic Union, we will make proposals for the creation of a permanent and accountable European Minister of Economy and Finance, an initiative on further enhancing subsidiarity and proportionality, and a Communication on enhancing efficiency at the helm of the European Union. We will also propose an initiative on the enforcement of the rule of law.