Eurada News nº397 - February 2020

2020 Commission Work Programme

Check the plans of the European Commission in the short term as published in the work programme for the year 2020. Most of the initiatives have to do with the green deal and digitalisation

The publication of the Work Programme at the beginning of each year is the natural way for the European Commission to outline its main short-term priorities, but this time they also presented the long-term guidelines since this is year of their five-year term. The structure of the work programme follows the six priorities expressed in the political guidelines:

I) European Green Deal: It is the key priority and is specifically targeted to climate change alleviation and the accomplishment of the international agreements (e.g the Paris Agreement). The Commission will propose an European climate law to enshrine the 2050 carbon neutrality objective in the An European Climate Pact will bring together all these efforts, involving regions, local communities, civil society, schools, industry and individuals. The EU will also press ahead international negotiations of the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26) 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. The EU Biodiversity strategy is as well linked to an international agreement that would be celebrated in China in October.

Until now, the information about the plan is not as deep as it would be desirable, but it will include measures over consumption and production, environment protection, energy, mobility and financing. Moreover, the Commission identified the regions and sectors that will be most challenged by the energy transition and is working on making up for them with the Just Transition Fund.

II) A Europe fit for the digital age: It will be addressed through the creation of a Digital Services Act and a white paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI), involving ethical components in AI as well as other relevant aspects for the proposal regulation. The activities will be linked to support a strong R&I programme, the implementation of actions involving cybersecurity with the revision of the Directive on security of networks and information systems (NIS Directive), and the new SME strategy will be included in the new industrial strategy. Both the SME strategy and industrial strategy would be published on March 10th. They will include the access to the internal market, the revision of state aids, etc.

 It is relevant for the members of EURADA that new Industrial Strategy for Europe and the SME strategy will be published in mid-March. Both SME and Industrial strategies will include the priorities and the field of intervention (not the specific actions). The European Industrial strategy will be useful to promote European champions as well as to be better informed about the views of the European Commission on industry. Some days later (probably in March 18th), the skill agenda that will complement both strategies  will be published.

III) An economy that works for the people: It will be focused on banking union, societal aspects, taxation for the 21st century, capital market union and the reinforcement of the pillar of social rights with the minimum salaries’ provisions, employment, etc. The European Commission will take action to embed the twin digital and climate transitions into our unique social market economy ensuring that our economy combines social fairness, sustainability and economic growth.

IV) A stronger Europe in the world: This priority includes all Commission’s initiatives which have an international-based approach. The members of EURADA in accession countries ought to consider that the neighbour policy will continue with specific relevance for Africa and the Western Balkans. The Commission will continue to push for the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

V) Promoting our European way of life: This priority will tackle the challenges of migration, asylum, security, education, skills, inclusion and health. It is important the cross-border recognition of diplomas and the updating of skill for the upcoming times.

VI) A new push for European democracy: The European Commission has worked ahead of time to prepare plans. It will be implemented through a 2020 annual foresight report. The biggest item will be the Conference on the Future of Europe 2020 – 2022 that was announced in the political guidelines and the letter of mandate for Commissioners. Regional development agencies and their stakeholders could express their opinions in the Have your say portal, as citizens’ initiatives or during the participation on the conference about the future of Europe. This conference will be launched on the Europe Day May 9th, 2020 and will run two years.

Mrs. von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated that “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.”

The European Commission considered the Political Guidelines, the portfolio and responsibilities of the team of new Commissioners and the result of the interinstitutional dialogue with the European Parliament, the Council and advisory bodies (European Social and Economic Committee and Committee of Regions).

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Written by Esteban Pelayo, Director of EURADA.