On 27 October, the European Commission adopted its 2016 Work Programme, the second of the Juncker Commission, reaffirming the commitment to the ten political priorities of its Political Guidelines. The preparation for this Work Programme was launched with the State of the Union address of President Juncker in front of the European Parliament on 9 September and the Letter of Intent sent by him and First Vice-President Timmermans to the Presidents of the European Parliament and the Council on the same day. It follows a constructive dialogue with the European Parliament and the Council. The Work Programme calls on the European Parliament and Council to help deliver quick and effective results in the most important policy areas.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “One year ago this Commission made a new start, committing to focus on the big things where citizens expect the EU to make a difference. Today we are taking the next steps to deliver on these political priorities. Over the coming year we will propose additional measures to manage the refugee crisis, boost jobs and growth and strengthen the single market, deepen the Economic and Monetary Union, ensure tax fairness, high social standards and promote economic, social and environmental sustainability. This is no time for business as usual: citizens will judge the EU on whether it delivers results on the major challenges facing our societies today. This is why we are calling on the European Parliament and Council to prioritise the legislative work on our most urgent proposals.”
This year’s Work Programme will deliver 23 key initiatives across our 10 political priorities, 20 intended withdrawals or modifications of pending proposals and 40 REFIT actions to review the quality of existing EU legislation. In very many areas, a common approach at European level is needed if we are to achieve our ambitious policy goals – a high level of environmental protection, high social and employment standards, energy security, a thriving economy that benefits all, and a migration policy that reflects our common values.
Delivering on our 10 Political Priorities through 23 Key Initiatives
This year’s Work Programme will deliver substantive legislative proposals to follow up on the strategic programmes adopted in 2015. In the past year, we have set out our vision for Investment, the Digital Single Market, the Energy Union, the European Agenda on Security, the European Agenda on Migration, the Capital Markets Union, the Action Plan for Fair and Efficient Corporate Taxation, the new Trade Strategy and our most recent proposals to deepen and strengthen our Economic and Monetary Union. This Work Programme sets out the key initiatives we will take in the next twelve months to deliver on these commitments.
The new initiatives which the Commission will deliver in 2016 include:
- Initiatives on Better Migration Management, and proposals on Border Management
- Implementation of the Digital Single Market, Follow-up to the Single Market Strategy, a Space Strategy for Europe, and a European Defence Action Plan
- A Circular Economy, Next Steps for a Sustainable European Future, and legislation to implement the Energy Union
- A New Skills Agenda for Europe, a New Start for Working Parents, and a Pillar of Social Rights as part of a deepening of Economic and Monetary Union
- A Corporate Tax package and an Action Plan on VAT
Other key initiatives for 2016 will implement the European Security Agenda, follow up on the Trade and Investment Strategy and the Five Presidents’ Report on Deepening Economic and Monetary Union, and provide the Commission’s contribution to the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. The Commission will also present the mid-term review of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and a strategy to better focus the budget on results.
Making our legislation fit for purpose through 40 REFIT Actions
The Commission’s commitment to better regulation is about looking at the evidence and making sure that when the EU intervenes it does so in a way that actually will make a positive difference on the ground. So we need to be constantly attentive to make sure our legislation and spending programmes perform effectively. Existing rules which are outdated or are too heavy or too complex to be applied in practice will not achieve their objectives.
REFIT is the Commission programme for ensuring that EU legislation remains fit for purpose and delivers the results intended. It aims to keep the body of EU law lean and healthy, remove unnecessary burdens and adapt existing legislation without compromising on our ambitious policy objectives.
This year 13 REFIT actions will contribute to key initiatives, such as simplifying the rules for EU funding or reviewing legislation on taxation and on energy. In addition, 27 new REFIT actions will be launched for example to evaluate our maritime legislation, reduce the burdens of public procurement for SMEs, facilitate compliance with the REACH framework and make sure health and safety legislation is workable and will be enforced.
The Commission is also announcing the withdrawal or modification of 20 pending legislative proposals which are not in line with our political priorities, have no prospect of adoption, or have been denatured through the legislative process and no longer fulfil their original policy objectives. These proposals will be withdrawn in 6 months, by April 2016.
Every year, the Commission adopts a Work Programme setting out the list of actions it will take in the coming twelve months. The Work Programme informs the public and the co-legislators of our political commitments to present new initiatives, withdraw pending proposals and review existing EU legislation. It does not cover the ongoing work of the Commission to implement its role as Guardian of the Treaties and enforce existing legislation or the regular initiatives that the Commission adopts every year.
The Commission’s preparation of the 2016 Work Programme has been enriched by consultations with the European Parliament and Council based on the Letter of Intent sent by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans on 9 September after the State of the European Union address. The Commission is clearly presenting in its Work Programme the priority files where it wants the co-legislators to make the fastest progress and deliver quick results for Europe’s citizens.