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Letter by President Barroso to the President of the European Parliament, Mr Martin Schulz

European Commission - MEMO/12/661   12/09/2012

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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 12 September 2012

Letter by President Barroso to the President of the European Parliament, Mr Martin Schulz

"Dear President Schulz,

In my State of the Union address today, I am setting out a clear political vision for the future of our Union. The challenges I outline call for vision, coherence and effectiveness on the part of the EU Institutions. Using its right of initiative, the Commission will bring forward proposals in the coming months designed to respond to the challenges identified in my speech. In keeping with the Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and the Commission and following on from the structured dialogue between members of the Commission and different parliamentary committees, in this letter I set out the main elements guiding the preparation of the Commission Work Programme for 2013 and beyond.

Our overarching political imperative is to reform the European economy to deliver sustainable and job-rich growth. This is a huge task that concerns all sectors of society. Therefore the Commission will present its next work programme through a series of key objectives which will then be delivered through several specific initiatives. These objectives draw on the Parliament's own reflections about key actions for the future. This letter should nourish our continuing political dialogue in the run-up to the adoption of next year's Commission Work Programme (CWP) next month. The Work Programme will cover key initiatives to be proposed in 2013 – the European Year of Citizens - and in 2014, taking us up to the next European Parliament elections in mid-2014. More specifically, it will be designed to secure greater sustainability and to continue delivering all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Priority areas

What follows is an indication of work in progress within the Commission. It is also subject to further dialogue between our Institutions. The Work Programme will only be finalised after the meeting of the Conference of Committee Chairs with the Commission on 2 October.

A deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union

In today's speech on the State of the Union, I announced the Commission's intention to present a comprehensive blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union. There is a strong consensus that this is indispensable for the future of the European economy. The combination of a Banking Union, a Fiscal Union and of the necessary elements of a Political Union would provide the secure platform needed to build sustainable growth, employment and competitiveness.

We are already advancing this agenda through the concrete proposals for a single supervisory mechanism for banks which the Commission has just adopted and which, together with the existing proposals on banking capital requirements, deposit insurance and bank resolution, will require priority attention from the European Parliament and the Council in the coming months. In addition I hope that we can swiftly finalise adoption of the two pack proposals tabled by the Commission last year.

At the same time, economic renewal will only succeed if it is rooted in a sense of fairness and equity. The Commission will therefore step up efforts to tackle tax fraud and evasion and ensure that all sectors pay a fair contribution to the public purse. It is urgent that the Council agrees on the revised Savings Tax Directive and mandates allowing the Commission to negotiate stronger savings tax agreements with neighbouring countries. It is now clear that the proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax, which I set out to you in my State of the Union address last year, has to move forward under enhanced cooperation. The Commission will respond positively and rapidly to any request to go in this direction.

Examples of future measures to be set out could include:

  • Further proposals to complete the regulatory framework for financial services and the banking union, e.g. legislation to address systemic risks related to non-banks and shadow banking and further measures to reinforce the identifications and the prevention of risks in banking activities

  • As part of the ongoing deepening of the economic governance of the EU, further development of ex ante coordination of and support to Member States' economic policy reform plans in the context of the European Semester

  • Action to boost the provision of long-term financing to the real economy

  • An action plan to combat tax fraud and tax evasion

  • Proposals dealing with tax havens and aggressive tax planning by companies

  • Proposals on retail banking including transparency on fees and increasing consumers´ ability to switch banks

Boosting jobs and growth in the Single Market and a new industrial policy

Technological development and global change are two key challenges for Europe today. Turning them into opportunities for growth requires action to improve the attractiveness of investment in the EU and to foster entrepreneurial spirit within the EU so that new businesses can and will emerge and thrive. The Commission will continue to press for reforms to make the Single Market deliver on its full potential, notably through a further Single Market Act which will be proposed in October. Also in October 2012, the Commission will present proposals for a modern industrial policy, followed by an Action plan to contribute to a more entrepreneurial Europe during the autumn and an initiative in the automotive sector by the end of the year. The European dimension needs to be exploited to the full if the potential of innovation is to be realised, to remove the stigma of business failure, and to ensure investment is made now in the industries that will be the bedrock of the European economy of the future.

Building on these key proposals the Work Programme could also include initiatives to:

  • Create new state aid rules for research, development and innovation

  • Intensify work on standards, certification and labels

  • Modernise our approach to intellectual property rights

  • Stimulate and leverage private investment as well as access to capital, notably for SMEs

  • Develop a new European approach to business failure and insolvency

Ensuring social cohesion through investing in people

The EU must continue to take the steps at the European level which can help to address the unemployment faced by millions today. Special attention must continue to be given to young people, who are particularly affected by the unemployment situation. We must also take into account in our approach the long term challenge of an ageing society and the need to equip Europeans with the global skills that will be critical for the development of businesses and hence for job creation and our future prosperity. Gearing up the European labour market to boost employability will be vital to re-launching growth, modulating action to address different groups like the vulnerable or the highly skilled and taking advantage of stronger innovation in education and training systems and employment services.

Examples of future measures that could be included in the Work Programme are initiatives to:

  • Deliver a social investment package

  • Facilitate free movement for workers

  • Improve the labour market access of vulnerable groups

  • Expand the Youth initiative on employment and mobility

Networking Europe

Effective networks will be central to Europe's future prospects and this is an area where the European dimension is particularly essential to success. Investing in modern infrastructure and the digital economy unlocks growth across the single market as a whole. Network industries in Europe need to be resilient, secure and competitive, exploiting innovation to the full. The Commission is working to ensure that Europeans are able to go online anywhere, anytime and through any device by 2015 and that by 2020 the EU should be fully interconnected across borders and networks. We need to "connect to compete" and to do more to create a true European transport area with European rules. The Commission will continue to build a competitive, resource efficient and intelligent transport system, in particular with a new railway package and an initiative on clean transport to be adopted by the end of the year. We will also continue to build on our integrated maritime policy. The Work Programme could include measures to:

  • Use technology to break down the barriers between networks, ensure better network security and improve consumer choice

  • Free up bandwidth through an active EU spectrum policy and create the right framework to explore the full potential of cloud computing

  • Launch a new phase in the Single European Sky

  • Align VAT systems to prevent distortions and make business easier in cross-border eCommerce.

Sustainable and efficient resource use

The future European economy needs to use existing resources more efficiently and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Moving in this direction can also release potential for innovation and hence for growth with a direct bearing on prosperity and jobs.

The Work Programme could include initiatives to:

  • Frame climate and energy policy to give a long-term perspective for investment beyond 2020

  • Galvanise the technological opportunities to boost energy efficiency in the transport sector

  • Revise the air quality directives

  • Enable the development of smart energy grids and smart metering

  • Follow up on Rio +20

Safe and secure Europe

The EU is built on the strong foundations of fundamental rights and the rule of law. One of the EU's greatest achievements is the freedom it offers to our citizens to live, travel, work and do business in other EU Member States. When we are effective in tackling crime or corruption or when we control our external borders effectively, we are protecting these rights and freedoms. We also have responsibilities – to reinforce the instruments to face potentially difficult situations related to migration, to safeguard health and food safety, to respond effectively to man-made or natural disasters, and to offer a safe haven to those facing persecution.

Actions to be set out in the Work Programme could include measures to:

  • Combat money laundering and the funding of terrorism

  • Improve the circulation of information on criminal records

  • Establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office to protect the financial interests of the Union

  • Revise the nuclear safety directive and make proposals on nuclear liability, insurance and on nuclear emergency preparedness and response

  • And a report on citizenship that will highlight the need for stronger action to remove obstacles preventing our citizens from drawing the full benefits that EU membership offers.

Europe as a global actor

The EU has a wide range of global objectives, from pursuing our values, to pursuing our economic interests, to promoting development. A united EU, speaking and acting as one, is the most effective way to pursue these interests.

During the period covered by the Work Programme, the Commission will be working on:

  • Implementing our multi-pronged strategy (financial assistance, trade and mobility) to support political and economic reforms in our neighbourhood

  • Enhanced trade and investment with strategic partners, as well as multi-sector cooperation

  • Preparing further work on the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals and taking an active role in the international debate on the post-2015 global development goals

  • The next annual Enlargement Package

  • Launching an Emergency Response Centre that will help our Member States to deal with natural and manmade disasters and further strengthen Europe's crisis response in third countries

Investing for the future: agreeing and delivering a forward-looking MFF

The work of the Commission over the next year will also be very heavily driven by work to put in place the next generation of investment from the EU budget and the preparation of the implementation of the next MFF that should be adopted still this year. Parliament's role in securing a budget and own resources that match the task will be key to maximising the potential of the EU budget to deliver and the Commission will work closely with the Parliament to conclude all of the sectoral legislation that will enable the EU to implement a pro-growth, modernising multi annual budget. The support of the Parliament for the adoption of initiatives such as the Connecting Europe Facility and Horizon 2020 will play a key role in this context, in addition to its ongoing support for a strong common agricultural policy and cohesion.

Reinforcing democratic accountability in the European Union

Deeper integration requires further political integration and a high level of democratic accountability. We need to guarantee effective democratic oversight and reassure citizens that this project is their project – not just a project of the political and economic elites. The Commission proposal for a Regulation on the Statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations – adopted today – is an important step in the creation of a genuinely European political space. More can and must be done in this respect. In line with today's speech, the Commission wishes to engage in a reflection with the European Parliament on the appropriate measures, both regarding the parliamentary scrutiny and accountability of current policy making and with a view to the appropriate framework for the next elections of the European Parliament.

A work programme that delivers

These key objectives will frame the translation of the broader vision into concrete actions over the coming years. In finalising the individual initiatives for the Commission Work Programme, the Commission will:

  • Front-load the measures with the biggest impact on growth and job-creation. It will prioritise initiatives which can produce results rapidly, while in parallel laying the ground for long-term sustainability. Priority will be given to implementing the recently agreed Growth Compact.

  • Seek to ensure that the EU and the national levels act in tandem to secure the greatest benefits. That is why the deepening of the Europe 2020 approach is so important to the successful pursuit of growth and jobs.

As always the measures highlighted in the Work Programme only cover part of the workload of the Commission. All the Institutions will be stretched in giving priority to the finalisation of proposals already on the table and helping to ensure that the measures agreed are effectively implemented. For the Commission, this means focusing our resources on proposals on which political agreement can be achieved before mid-2014, while applying the highest standards of smart regulation. In this context, I would like to take the opportunity to inform you of the Commission's intention to withdraw its proposal for a Regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services ('Monti II').

Today's State of the Union debate will be another important building block in our dialogue to shape this prioritisation. I look forward to hosting the third meeting between the Conference of Committee Chairs and the College on 2 October. The Commission will also thoroughly examine the resolution on Parliament's priorities for 2013, which has been adopted this week. I consider it an important indication of our converging priorities that a considerable number of the initiatives on which Parliament and its committees have been reflecting are being actively worked on by the Commission at the present time. It is foreseen that some of these will be adopted by the Commission later this year.

In the past few years, the EU has proved itself an indispensable player in the struggle to tackle the crisis. Together, we have provided targeted solutions to immediate urgencies. And we have kept the focus on Europe's long-term challenges. We have put in place a new system of economic governance, we have reshaped our system of financial regulation and supervision, and we have kept growth and jobs at the core of our work. The close partnership between our institutions has already delivered. Now we have to drive ahead, with the right balance between sound public finances, structural reform and targeted investment. I look forward to working with the Parliament to deliver an effective programme for action over the coming year.

José Manuel BARROSO"


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