Strength in unity: Commission makes recommendations for the EU’s next strategic agenda 2019-2024

European Commission 19.jpg

European Union, 2019 Photographer: Mauro Bottaro Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Ahead of the meeting of EU27 leaders in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May 2019, the European Commission is today setting out a number of policy recommendations for how Europe can shape its future in an increasingly multipolar and uncertain world.

With the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019 and the change of political leadership of the EU institutions that will follow, the time has come for new policy orientations and new priorities. As both the priorities we set and the way we explain and engage with Europeans will be decisive in strengthening our Union, the Commission is also making suggestions on how to better communicate our collective decisions. Together, these form the Commission’s contribution to the next strategic agenda for 2019-2024.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The duty of every generation is to change the destinies of Europeans, present and future, for the better. To make good on our enduring promise of peace, progress and prosperity. The challenges we Europeans collectively face are multiplying by the day. For Europe to thrive, the EU’s Member States must act together. I remain convinced that it is only in unity that we will find the strength needed to preserve our European way of life, sustain our planet, and reinforce our global influence.

The Sibiu summit was called for by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, when he unveiled a roadmap for a more united, stronger and more democratic Union.

A strong track record

In a decade of unabated change and challenge, Europe has shown that it is able to deliver on its promise of peace, prosperity and progress for citizens (see Annex). By summer 2018, the Juncker Commission had tabled all of the legislative proposals it committed to at the start of its mandate and stepped up enforcement of existing rules. In total, the Commission made 471 new legislative proposals and carried over an additional 44 presented by previous Commissions. Of these, 348 proposals have been adopted or agreed by the European Parliament and the Council during the current mandate. Remarkably, in around 90% of the cases, the final compromise was approved by consensus in the Council of Ministers, and thus supported by all 28 Member States. The European Commission is today listing 20 key achievements, as well as 10 key proposals which remain ‘unfinished business’, as they are still pending in Parliament and Council.

The EU’s next strategic agenda

Building on the progress our Union has made in recent years, listening to citizens’ views in nearly 1,600 citizens’ dialogues and in the light of the outcome of the European Parliament election, the EU’s strategic agenda for 2019-2024 is the right moment to address the challenges and opportunities Europe faces today. Future action should, in the Commission’s view, focus on 5 dimensions:

1.  Protective Europe: We should pursue our efforts to build an effective and genuine European Security Union and move towards a genuine European Defence Union to make defence cooperation within the EU the norm rather than the exception. We also need to be more proactive in managing migration. This requires comprehensive action at every level and a genuine EU approach built on the sharing of responsibility and on solidarity between Member States.

2.  Competitive Europe: We need to upgrade, modernise and fully implement the single market in all its aspects. We need to focus research and innovation on the ecological, social and economic transitions and related societal challenges. We need to invest in key European digital capacities and work together to boost Europe-made and human-centric artificial intelligence. We need to continue to foster growth and ensure sustainable prosperity by deepening the Economic and Monetary Union. And we need to continue to support the transformation of the European labour market whilst ensuring its fairness.

3.  Fair Europe: We must continue to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. We also need to work with Member States to achieve social inclusion and equality, including by addressing regional disparities, minorities’ needs, gender issues and the challenge of an ageing population. We need to firmly uphold and promote the shared values on which the European Union is founded, such as the rule of law. We need a fair and modern taxation policy as well as high-quality, affordable and accessible health care and access to quality, energy-efficient affordable housing for all in Europe.

4.  Sustainable Europe: We need to modernise our economy to embrace sustainable consumption and production patterns. We need to reinforce our efforts to fight climate change and reverse environmental degradation. We must transition towards a more resource-efficient circular economy by promoting green growth, bioeconomy and sustainable innovations. And we need to maximise the Energy Union’s potential by addressing major remaining challenges including energy security, energy costs for households and businesses, and the impact on climate change.

5.  Influential Europe: Europe needs to lead in the world through consistent and strong support for a multilateral, rules-based global order, with the United Nations at its core. The EU should also make it a priority to develop strong relations with close neighbours, based on a clear balance of rights and obligations. A strengthened international role of the euro would also increase Europe’s economic and monetary sovereignty.

Both the priorities we set and the way we explain and engage with Europeans will be decisive in making our Union more united, stronger and more democratic. Over the course of its mandate, the EU institutions, and notably the Juncker Commission, have sought to communicate in both a more political and more strategic way. The lessons gleaned from this experience point to it being time to move past the tendency to nationalise success and Europeanise failure and instead better explain jointly our common decisions and policies.

Background

Five years ago, the European Council defined a broad strategic agendafor the Union in times of change. This took further shape in the form of President Jean-Claude Juncker’s 10 political priorities, developed during his electoral campaign and in dialogue with Member States and the European Parliament. The Juncker Commission has since shown a strong track record of delivering on its strategic agenda.

The EU now needs new, ambitious, realistic and focused goals for the next political cycle.

In March 2017, ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the Commission published its White Paper on the Future of Europe. It outlined five possible scenarios for the EU’s future at 27. This was the starting point for a wide-ranging debate on the future of Europe, which now can inspire the main policy priorities of the next strategic agenda. Having engaged with citizens in nearly 1,600 citizens’ dialogues and citizens’ consultations, the European Commission has today published a report, which confirms that most citizens see Europe as essential to tackling global challenges but expect it to become more efficient and more transparent.

In his 2017 State of the Union address, President Juncker unveiled a roadmap detailing the main steps towards a more united, stronger and more democratic Union. Building on this, national leaders met in Tallinn, Estonia, and agreed on a Leaders’ Agenda – a list of the most pressing issues and challenges for which solutions should be found, ahead of the European elections in 2019.

On 9 May 2019, EU leaders will meet in Sibiu, Romania, and are expected to mark the culmination of this process with a renewed commitment to an EU that delivers on the issues that really matter to people. They will reflect on our Union’s political aspirations and prepare the strategic agenda for the next five years.

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