Saturday 28 October 2017

Commission Work Programme 2018

The web page for the Commission Work Programme 2018 (CWP 2018) offers access to the communication, the five official annexes and additional documents, but at this stage mainly in the three internal working languages of the Commission (English, French and German).

At this point in time, the language choice is no wider if we access the official documents through the legal portal Eur-Lex. However, let us fetch the exact reference there:

Commission Work Programme 2018: An agenda for a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe; Strasbourg, 24.10.2017 COM(2017) 650 final  

2018 and Future of Europe

There are legislative proposals in the ordinary manner, as well as initiatives with a Future of Europe perspective aiming at 2025. This CWP 2018 presentation in a nutshell (pages 2-3) is worth reading:

The focus of the work programme for 2018 is two-fold. First, the work programme sets out a limited number of targeted legislative actions to complete our work in priority policy areas over the next months. The Commission will table all legislative proposals no later than May 2018. This will allow the European Parliament and Council the time and space to complete the legislative work before Europeans give their democratic verdict in the European elections of June 2019 on what we have achieved together.

Secondly, the work programme also presents a number of initiatives that have a more forward-looking perspective, as the new Union of 27 shapes its own future for 2025. These initiatives reflect the debate kick-started by the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe and the State of the Union address. They can all be achieved by making full use of the untapped potential of the Lisbon Treaty. We will deliver all of these initiatives by the end of the mandate.

Better regulation

Better regulation is the third main aspect of the CWP 2018 (page 3):

As in previous years, the work programme also proposes a number of proposals that follow on from regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT) reviews of current laws, taking into account the opinions of the REFIT platform. To allow the co-legislators to focus on delivering the proposals that really matter, this work programme contains a significant number of pending proposals that we suggest to withdraw given that there is no foreseeable agreement in the European Parliament and the Council or they no longer serve their purpose or are technically outdated. This work programme also continues the process of repealing pieces of legislation that have become obsolete. In parallel, we are publishing an overview of the Commission's better regulation agenda and its results together with the REFIT Scoreboard, which sets out in detail how we are following-up on REFIT platform opinions and on-going efforts to evaluate and review existing laws.

Ten priorities

The Juncker Commission has been strategic and steadfast in its work, matter of fact in its communication. In Section II (pages 3-10), the situation regarding each of the Commission’s ten priorities is presented briefly (with further references), before the planned initiatives are mentioned. Since the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) publication The European Commission at mid-term was mentioned in the CWP 2018 communication, and can be used as a reference for assessing progress in more detail, let us utilise it also to lift the Commission’s ten priorities here as a reminder (from page 3):

1. A new boost for jobs, growth and investment
2. A connected digital single market
3. A resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy
4. A deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base
5. A deeper and fairer economic and monetary union (EMU)
6. Originally, A reasonable and balanced free trade agreement with the United States, nowadays A balanced and progressive trade policy to harness globalisation
7. An area of justice and fundamental rights based on mutual trust
8. Towards a new policy on migration
9. Europe as a stronger global actor
10. A union of democratic change.

Unity, strength and democracy

We move into Future of Europe territory through Section III Delivering by 2025: A more united, stronger and more democratic union (pages 10-13). The Commission optimistically presents that its State of the Union 2017 (SOTEU) roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union is now reflected in the Leaders' Agenda, endorsed by the European Council 19-20 October.

Concrete results for a new EU27, which meets the expectations of EU citizens and delivers on things that matter most to them, should ensue from a special summit in Sibiu, Romania, on Europe Day, 9 May 2019. This is just a few weeks before the probable time of the elections to the European Parliament.  

The European Commission promises to use “the still untapped potential of the current Treaties which allows us to move forward with ambition and speed” (page 10), meaning flexibilities including passerelle clauses. The Commission is going to work with the other EU institutions and with national parliaments, but also invites all the citizens of the European Union to contribute to the discussion about the future of Europe.

Section IV is dedicated to better regulation, implementation and enforcement, in a spirit of  evidence-based policy-making (pages 13-14), before the last section V with conclusions.

Last December the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union agreed on the legislative priorities for the coming year in a Joint Declaration. The Commission hopes that the three institutions will reach a similar agreement this time around.
The 15 pages of the communication Commission Work Programme 2018 COM(2017) 650 are worth reading as a reminder and update of the State of the Union 2017 materials, as well as a provider of a number of useful document references.

However, for detail we have to turn to the annexes.

Ralf Grahn

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