Sunday

26th May 2019

Commission tasks itself with 23 initiatives for 2016

The European Commission presented on Tuesday (27 October) its Work Programme for 2016, with an emphasis on migration, economy and social issues, and energy and sustainability.

In a list of 23 key initiatives, the Commission announced an overhaul of the Dublin asylum system and the creation of a European border and coast guard.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Other measures include the creation of a pillar of social rights, a circular economy package, a corporate tax package, a European bank deposit insurance and a new skills agenda to adapt the workforce to the digital economy.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans presented the work programme to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, saying that it is "part of a bigger answer we need to give to the challenges" facing Europe.

"Action is highly needed," he said, adding that the EU is faced with "one if the few moments when the project itself is being challenged in an existential way".

"It's like a perfect storm," he said, citing the economic, refugee and climate crisis as well as international threats. "The European project should be an answer to that."

'Full responsibility'

The work programme, based on the ten priorities set by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for his 5-year mandate, was first outlined by Juncker in September and finalised after talks with the Parliament and the Council of the EU.

"We have convinced other institutions that this Commission is working differently, focusing on the main issues, putting on the table and in the work programme things we think we can actually do in the year ahead," Timmermans told press.

"Some initiatives are the continuation of what we have been doing," he said. Legislative proposals will be put forward for long-term projects like energy union, the single market strategy or the digital single market.

To the MEPs the commissioner said that although the Commission "takes full responsibility of the choice it makes", it will not be able to "deliver results without sufficient ownership of the co-legislators"

Dublin overhaul

On migration, which Timmermans said is the main priority, the Commission intends to open two processes that are sure to be fiercely debated with member states and MEPs.

The first is "proposals for a European Border and Coast Guard, building on a significant strengthening of Frontex". Some member states have so far been reluctant to accept this new step in the sharing of national competences and sovereignty.

The second process is the "overhaul [of] our common asylum system to correct the gaps and weaknesses exposed in the Dublin system and to strengthen the role of the European Asylum Support Office".

"To meet Europe's future demographic and labour market needs", the Commission will also present "a renewed approach on legal migration, including measures to improve the Blue Card Directive."

'Social progress'

A second priority singled out by Timmermans is job creation and social protection.

2016 should be "the year of real social progress," he told MEPs.

A European pillar of social rights will be proposed, with the aim of "modernising and addressing the gaps in existing social policy legislation … and identifying social benchmarks, notably as concerns the flexicurity concept, built on best practices in the member states."

To help create jobs, the Commission wants to push forward the EU digital single market and promises "€250 billion of additional growth in Europe" before the end of its mandate in 2019.

New plans on copyright will come in December, followed next year by proposals on copyright, geo-blocking, free flow of data, the cloud, and VAT for electronic commerce.

On climate and environment, the EU executive says that "implementation of the 2030 energy and climate package will be a key priority".

The much vaunted circular economy package should start to be implemented next year to "create a single market for the re-use of materials and resources, supporting the move away from a linear economy."

"I don't think it is right to say that the Commission is using better regulation to backpedal on its ambitions on environment or the social dimension," Timmermans told reporters when asked about regular criticism towards the Commission's priorities.

Juncker sets out 2016 plan

The commission president outlined his 10 priorities in a letter of intent. Deepening the monetary union and creating a new EU pillar for social rights are the main points beside migration and climate issues.

Opinion

2016: The year of sustainable development?

The European Commission's work programme for 2016 shows glimmers of hope that the environment is no longer the Commission blindspot that it was a year ago.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

News in Brief

  1. Former EU climate chief cheered by 40,000 activists in Denmark
  2. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  3. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  4. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  5. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  6. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  7. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  8. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  2. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  3. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  4. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  5. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  6. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  7. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  8. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us