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MEMO/11/645

Brussels, 28 September 2011

Letter by President Barroso to the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek

"Dear President Buzek,

As I will say in the State of the Union address I will make today to the European Parliament, the European Union is at a critical turning point. The economic crisis continues and the road to recovery is proving long and steep for our citizens. Job creation is still trailing as economic growth struggles to take hold across many regions. Public debt remains a heavy burden, with the potential to hold back both short and long term growth unless addressed firmly and with urgency. Many of our proudest achievements - such as the Euro and the Schengen area of free movement of people - are under pressure. Facing such a situation now is the time for all pro-European forces, such as the European Parliament and the European Commission, to rally support for our European project and to demonstrate that deeper European integration is the key to solving these challenges.

We all know that a sustainable economic recovery is the overriding challenge for this generation. By restoring growth and confidence we will have the means to sustain the EU's unique social model and to support the aspirations of our citizens. This is the background against which the Commission is preparing its Work Programme for 2012. It will be a programme of hard work and delivery to promote growth and reforms, driven by a shared sense of priority and urgency. It will use the foundations we have put in place in recent years as a springboard to drive forward growth and jobs. In addition to the proposals announced in my speech, it will be built around a number of main themes

  • Building a Union of stability and responsibility

  • Building a Union of Growth and solidarity

  • Giving the EU an effective voice in the wider world

The work we have undertaken together in the past few years represents an unprecedented renewal of the economic fabric of the EU. The European semester and the Annual Growth Survey have fundamentally improved our ability to deliver real coordination. We are putting in place a new generation of regulation and supervision for a strong and sound financial sector. We are maximising the leverage of the single market to put in place tomorrow's sources of growth and jobs. In all these areas, this year has already seen important new proposals from the Commission. In the coming weeks, more will follow, on key financial services sectors like derivatives, hank crisis prevention and resolution, and credit rating agencies, on making life easier for SMEs, on energy and on responsible business. In addition, we will propose a major programme of sector-specific programmes and instruments to implement a modem budget for Europe. Each proposal will be shaped to deliver our goal of EU added value. Agreement on this package must be at the top of our agenda to achieve our objectives over the coming year.

The Commission Work Programme for 2012 is our first opportunity to implement our new Framework Agreement across the full cycle of preparation. Our structured dialogue is a very concrete expression of the special partnership between our two institutions.

I want to thank you for the comprehensive report of the Conference of Committee Chairs (CCC), which the Commission has been examining carefully as part of the preparatory process. Along with the 6 July EP resolution adopted by a very large majority of MEPs, this document confirms Parliament's ambition for the EU. Starting with the State of the Union debate delivered today, our structured dialogue will intensify over the coming weeks, leading to adoption of the Work Programme on 15 November. In line with the Framework Agreement, this letter sets out the main elements guiding the preparation of the Work Programme, to feed into our dialogue. Some of the key elements are highlighted in bullet points as illustrations of future proposals but these do not represent a definitive or exhaustive list. I particularly look forward to the meeting between the CCC and the College on 12 October. The meeting last year showed how this forum can provide a strong platform for building a sense of common purpose.

A Union of stability and responsibility: A macro-economic and governance framework conducive to growth

We must create a virtuous circle in European economic management by ensuring that national and EU economic policies work together. We must complete the job of putting in place strong structures for economic governance and financial supervision, so that the confidence of citizens and markets alike are restored. The EU's single market constitutes a huge potential for growth, and needs to be boosted.

We need to move ahead of the curve, to shift the focus from crisis management to the growth model of the future, in line with our Europe 2020 Strategy. We need to show that the steps we have already made are carried through into implementation and make a real difference for our citizens. With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • The second Annual Growth Survey

  • European semester recommendations to each Member State, incorporating the new excessive imbalances procedure, and the further economic governance proposals announced in my speech

At a time where fiscal consolidation is crucial, the Commission will also pursue its efforts to tackle the challenge of tax evasion, including opening negotiations on savings tax havens with key third countries on the basis of the draft mandate currently awaiting Council approval.

One of the Union's most effective tools to boost growth is the EU budget. Following the overall proposal on the multiannual financial framework in June, this autumn the Commission will table the legal basis for the next financial framework, with a focus on where the EU can make a real difference and a strong emphasis on simplification.

A Union of Growth and Solidarity

A single market for growth

Keeping the Single Market fit for purpose is essential in securing lasting growth and employment in Europe. We should harness new ideas and new technology to ensure that we make the most of today's Single Market. Following extensive public consultation, the Single Market Act announced 12 concrete measures, which the Commission will table over the coming months. I encourage Parliament and Council to fast-track these initiatives in the legislative process, to ensure that tangible benefits are felt by businesses and citizens as quickly as possible.

But our efforts will not stop at this. As the economy develops, the framework that our enterprises operate in must evolve. In 2012, the Commission will propose further initiatives to strengthen the Single Market, reduce administrative burdens and allow economic operators to take full advantage from the opportunities offered by a 500 million-strong home market. Legislative follow-up to the forthcoming 'performance check' will aim to improve further the single market for services, tapping into new sources of jobs and growth. Modernising the VAT system will help business to focus on growth, not least SMEs.

Confident consumers create thriving markets. Building on this autumn's work, the next work programme will announce measures to strengthen consumer rights, including in electronic and cross border transactions and effectively address health and safety related matters, thus improving citizens' security, while underpinning demand in the Single Market.

A comprehensive package of proposals will provide for competitive and safe railway services, making an important contribution to the sustainability of the European transport system. Infrastructure is as central as ever to global competitiveness, with the 'Connecting Europe' programme the core of our strategy to build effective and sustainable infrastructure development across the EU.

Finally, whilst the key proposals to meet the EU's G20 commitments on financial services reform will already be on the table by the end of 2011, the Commission will continue to work for further responsibility, transparency and solidity in a sector indispensible to growth and investment. Additional measures in 2012 will include proposals targeting investment funds, the insurance sector and investor protection.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Investor protection for retail investment and for investment funds

  • Preparing the VAT system of the future

  • A European Consumer Agenda

  • Revised rules on general product safety

  • Railway liberalisation package

  • Electronic identification and authentification

  • Effective collective rights management

  • State aids framework for services of general economic interest

Jobs and skills

In Europe, economic success and social cohesion are two sides of the same coin. Today's high levels of unemployment are a source of considerable hardship and a major threat to our future social cohesion and economic development. Europe will only succeed when it empowers everyone to play her or his part in moving society forward.

This is a turning point for our societies. With the impact of ageing accelerating, we cannot afford to lose the potential, skills and talents of our workforce. We need to invest in our human and social capital. Several Member States and companies have already understood this: during the crisis, they kept their employees in work, sometimes with reduced working hours or new positions, and are now able to make full use of their talents and training.

And the social impact of the crisis goes far beyond the world of work: financially distressed families find it hard to make ends meet, increasing numbers of children are exposed to risks of poverty, stress-related diseases and other adverse health impacts hurt our society. That is why the Commission will continue to fight against poverty and will campaign to deliver on this key Europe 2020 target.

Securing our societies for the future also means taking timely action to address long term challenges, including the sustainability of pension systems. While most levers are national, the EU can make an important contribution, and several initiatives will follow up on our work on pensions. Financing welfare, while returning to healthy public finances, requires rethinking not only spending priorities, but also the sources of revenue.

To enhance Europe's social market economy, initiatives in next year's work programme will include:

  • An Employment package (covering a renewed flexicurity agenda, a green jobs initiative and a Young Opportunities Initiative )

  • Supporting Occupational Retirement Provision

  • Protecting the supplementary pension rights of people who change jobs

A sustainable path to the future

Establishing a coherent framework to guide the gradual transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient society has been a top priority for this Commission. 2012 will be the last year of preparation before the climate-energy package of 2009 comes fully into force, and it will also see new measures to help meet our agreed targets and help citizens, communities and businesses shape long-term plans to a low-carbon future. In the field of transport, we will build on the successful measures to cut vehicle emissions. We will help put in place the infrastructure needed to make alternative fuels and vehicles readily available. A new blueprint for water will be a major deliverable of the flagship on resource efficiency.

Such measures will work in parallel with the mainstreaming of climate objectives into all future expenditure from the EU budget, a major contribution to realising our climate objectives. The Commission will continue to factor climate goals into all relevant legislation, and factor developments in international negotiations into our work in Europe.

Energy use has in the course of history proven one of the fundamental determinants of a prosperous society. A secure, sustainable and competitive energy system is established as a common EU objective. A strategy for the deployment of renewable energy beyond 2020 will be developed to offer stability for the longer term. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the tragic Fukushima accident, and as a follow-up to the stress tests, a thorough revision of the existing nuclear safety framework will be undertaken.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Further steps on emissions from passenger cars and vans

  • Facilitating clean power for transport

  • Safeguarding Europe's water resources

  • Updating the EURA TOM nuclear safety legislative framework

An open Europe for citizens

The creation of an open and secure space, where EU citizens and third-country nationals with legal rights of entry and residence may enter, move around, live and work is one of the most powerful demonstrations of the EU in action.

Over the last year events inside and outside the Union have brought the issue of border controls to the top of our agenda. To safeguard our historic accomplishments in terms of liberty and mobility, we must continuously strengthen and develop our border system to respond to new challenges.

We must also continue to enforce a common migration policy to allow the responsible management of migration in the EU After in-depth consultation of stakeholders, the Commission will present a package on the next generation of border checks. We will also work to ensure practical application of free movement of workers inside the Union as one of the core rights of citizens in the Single Market.

The 2012 Commission Work Programme will take forward several core initiatives of the ambitious Stockholm Programme Action Plan. A legislative proposal on extending е-Justice will use ICT to facilitate cooperation in the justice field. We will also target the need to ensure that documents in legal proceedings can be recognised across the Union.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • The next generation of border checks

  • Strategy on prevention and fight against trafficking of human beings

  • Employment and migration

Giving the EU an effective voice in the wider world

To an ever growing extent, the prosperity and security of EU citizens are influenced directly by developments beyond our borders. It is in our interest to seek to shape these developments, and we do so best together.

The historic developments in our Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood provide an opportunity for the EU to act as a positive influence on the road to democracy and prosperity. We need to work with new governments to see what support and encouragement we can offer - in terms of political support, technical assistance, and concrete aid to reconstruction and economic development.

Solidarity is a fundamental European value - and it extends beyond our borders. As the world's largest donor of international development assistance, the EU will play a leading role in helping the world's poorest societies, with particular focus on achieving the MDGs. In 2012, a concrete expression of EU's global solidarity will come in the form of proposals to set up a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps.

The Commission will also continue to support the EU's growth objectives on the international scene. While the overall objective remains a successful conclusion of ongoing multilateral trade negotiations and a further strengthening of the WTO through Russian accession, we hope to have concluded FTAs with Ukraine, Canada, Singapore and India in the coming period, and to take a decisive step forward with Japan. We are also working towards the launch of negotiations for an EU investment agreement with China.

Assessments of potential future enlargements and ongoing talks will continue through 2012. We are looking forward to soon welcoming Croatia as the 2$ member of our family. Efforts in 2012 will be pursued to allow Croatia to benefit fully from and to keep up the pace of preparations for meeting the obligations of membership.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Setting up a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps

  • Enlargement package 2012

Smart regulation and effective implementation

In delivering its Work Programme, the Commission will maintain its strong commitment to producing proposals of the highest quality. Preparation is key to quality, and preparation means ensuring that initiatives are developed in full consultation with stakeholders. To ensure a strong stakeholders input, from 2012 onwards, the consultation period is extended from 8 to 12 weeks.

Moreover, even when proposals are well prepared, and successfully scrutinised and supported by Parliament and Council, their real impact relies on implementation. Today, too many political actions do not translate into tangible benefits for citizens, companies and public authorities. The Commission will continue to fully live up to its role as guardian of the Treaty. This also involves a proactive application and development of competition policy as a key instrument in ensuring a level playing field and well-functioning single market.

With these aims in mind the 2012 Commission Work Programme will include proposals on:

  • Protecting the financial interests of the European Union

The way forward

2020 is only eight years from now. With the pace of global developments, EU must seize the chance to consolidate its position in the world. Attaining our ambitious targets depends on both Member States and European institutions delivering on a mutual commitment to reform. To have real impact by 2020, the efforts at European level must be frontloaded. That means acting now to secure the progress we need. I look forward to working with the European Parliament in the coming weeks to develop a programme of initiatives that will help to restore growth and confidence to our Union."

ANNEX:

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED


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