European Commission 2020 Work Programme: An ambitious roadmap for a Union that strives for more


(John Schnobrich, Unsplash)

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

Today the European Commission adopted its 2020 Work Programme. It sets out the actions the Commission will take in 2020 to turn the Political Guidelines of President von der Leyen into tangible benefits for European citizens, businesses and society. The driving force behind this first Work Programme is to successfully grasp the opportunities that the twin ecological and digital transitions will bring.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “This Commission is committed to tackle our generational challenges such as climate change, digitisation and migration. We are committed to deliver on the European Green Deal and to improve chances for European citizens and businesses in the digital transformation. This Work Programme will help building a Union that strives for more.

Maros Šefčovič, Vice-Presidentin charge of Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight said: Bringing our ambitions to life is a team effort between all institutions, Member States and key partners. Therefore, the Commission Work Programme also reflects the main priorities of the European Parliament and the European Council. Moreover, for the first time, we have integrated insights on long-term trends that are shaping our economies and societies. Strategic foresight will be the compass guiding our work as we move to design future-proof policies that forcefully address the needs of all Europeans and strengthen the geopolitical position of our Union.

Kick-starting the transition to a fair, climate-neutral and digital Europe

In 2020, the European Commission will start turning the six headline ambitions of President von der Leyen into concrete initiatives that will then be negotiated and implemented in cooperation with the European Parliament, Member States and other partners:

  • A European Green Deal: After tabling the first key initiatives in December 2019 and January 2020, the Commission will propose a European climate law to enshrine the 2050 carbon neutrality objective into legislation. A European Climate Pact will bring together all of these efforts, involving regions, local communities, civil society, schools, industry and individuals. The EU will also lead international negotiations ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow. The Commission will present initiatives to tackle the loss of biodiversity and – through a ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy – support farmers in providing high quality, affordable and safe food in a more sustainable way.
  • A Europe fit for the digital age: A new European Data Strategy will enable our Union to make the most of the enormous value of non-personal data as an ever-expanding and re-usable asset in the digital economy. This will cover the best possible use of the potential of digital data and the development and uptake of artificial intelligence that respects our European values and fundamental rights. A new Industrial Strategy for Europe will strengthen our industrial and innovation capacities, while the Digital Services Act will reinforce the single market for digital services and help provide smaller businesses with the legal clarity and level playing field they need.
  • An economy that works for people: After presenting its first ideas on a strong social Europe in January 2020, the Commission will take action to embed the twin digital and climate transitions into our unique social market economy ensuring our economy combines social fairness, sustainability and economic growth. While respecting national traditions, the Commission will put forward proposals to guarantee fair minimum wages for workers in the EU, for a European unemployment reinsurance scheme, and initiatives to ensure effective and fair taxation. The Commission will also propose a European Child Guarantee to ensure that children have access to basic services and will reinforce the Youth Guarantee to support the education of young people as well as the training and job opportunities they need.
  • A stronger Europe in the world: The Commission will develop new strategies for working with our neighbours in Africa and the Western Balkans. The Commission will continue to push for the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. In parallel, it will seek to keep up the momentum by putting forward ways to enhance the accession process, including on theenlargement methodology and on a reinforced investment framework. We will remain committed to upholding, updating and upgrading the rules-based order to make it fit for today’s realities. To strengthen the geopolitical role of the Commission, all Work Programme initiatives will have a strong external dimension.
  • Promoting our European way of life: The Commission will present a New Pact on Migration and Asylum – the centrepiece in the reform of the asylum policy. The Commission will also support the health protection of Europeans and lead the fight against cancer. Initiatives will help to step up investment in people’s skills and help them to master the challenges of the digital and ecological transitions. The Commission will also put forward a newEU Security Union Strategy setting out the areas where the Union can bring added value to support Member States in ensuring security – from combatting terrorism and organised crime, to preventing and detecting hybrid threats and enhancing cybersecurity and increasing the resilience of our critical infrastructure.
  • A new push for European democracy: Together with the other EU institutions and partners, the Commission will launch the Conference on the Future of Europe, engaging citizens to shape EU actions. The Commission will continue ensuring a strong rule of law culture in the EU. We will also look at how new demographic realities affect everything from employment, to social protection, public health, public finance and regional policy, digital connectivity, skills and integration and respond through initiatives on ageing for example.

A full list of the 43 new policy objectives under the six headline ambitions are set out in Annex 1 of the Work Programme.

Applying political discontinuity

In preparing the Work Programme, the Commission examined all proposals that currently are awaiting decision by the European Parliament and the Council, and is proposing to withdraw and repeal 34 of them. Some of them do not match the new Commission’s political priorities; for the majority of initiatives, the Commission remains strongly committed to deliver on their objectives. The Commission will reflect on better and more efficient ways to pursue the objectives and will consult the European Parliament and the Council before formalising the withdrawals.

A full list of the proposals for withdrawal is set out in Annex 4 of the Work Programme.

Strengthening policy-making and implementation with a future perspective

As of 2020, the Commission will make greater use of its strategic foresight capacities to identify long-term trends, improve the Commission’s priority setting and evidence-based policy-making. A reinforced Better Regulation framework will ensure that policies deliver tangible results and make the lives of people and businesses easier. In particular, the ‘one-in, one-out’ approach will ensure that newly introduced burdens are offset by relieving people and businesses – notably SMEs – of equivalent administrative costs at EU level in the same policy area. A Fit-for-future platform will also support the Commission’s simplification efforts.

A full list of proposals for regulatory simplification is set put in Annex 2 of the Work Programme.

Delivering the joint agenda

The Commission cooperated closely with the European Parliament, Member States and the consultative committees to draw up its Work Programme before presenting it. Continuing work in this team spirit, the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council will now start discussions for establishing a list of joint priorities on which co-legislators agree to take swift action.

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