10th Dec 2018

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.


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.

Razor-edge victory for more lobbying transparency at EP

New rules to force MEPs chairing committees or drafting reports to publish meetings with registered lobbyists took a step closer to reality. The measure was narrowly backed 11 to 10 at the constitutional affairs committee but still needs plenary approval.

Leading MEP defends expenses secrecy

The man tasked with making the EP more transparent has said there are more important issues than making MEP monthly expenses public.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium left with minority government after UN migration pact row
  2. EU court: UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50
  3. UK remains largest arms producer in western Europe
  4. Macron to address French nation in bid to calm tension
  5. Socialists confirm Timmermans as Spitzenkandidat
  6. France to investigate Kremlin influence on 'Yellow Vest' riots
  7. Air passenger transport in EU reaches record high
  8. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wins CDU leadership election


EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. France and Germany back Dutch on human rights sanctions
  2. COP24: vital to keep big polluters away from climate policy
  3. EU foot-dragging puts rule of law at risk in Hungary, Poland
  4. Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle
  5. Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week
  6. Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact
  7. EU Commission spins half-truth on 'unsafe' refugee boats
  8. COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us