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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Questions and Answers: the 2016 Work Programme

Strasbourg, 27 October 2015

Questions and Answers: the 2016 Work Programme

What is the Commission Work Programme?

Every year, the European Commission adopts a plan of action for the next twelve months. The Commission Work Programme tells citizens, our institutional partners and our staff how we will turn our political priorities into concrete action.

In most years the Work Programme is adopted in October. This is the second Work Programme to be presented by the Juncker Commission, which took office on 1 November 2014. It translates into concrete actions the Political Guidelines on the basis of which President Juncker was elected Commission President by a large majority in the European Parliament. It continues to reflect the clear message sent to European citizens that the Commission will be big on big things, small on small things and better in how we deliver them.

The Commission's Work Programme is focused on priorities and on results. Time and energy will be invested in addressing the issues where Europe's citizens expect a European solution.

What are the priorities for the Commission in 2016?

The 2016 Commission Work Programme presents a focused list of 23 key initiatives across our 10 political priorities, 20 intended withdrawals or modifications of pending proposals and 40 REFIT actions to review the quality of existing EU legislation.

In 2015, in its first year in office, the Commission selected initiatives where there was a pressing need for action, and where we could deliver quickly on our promises to Europe's citizens. We are now updating our 'to do list' for 2016 – setting out what the Commission will deliver next year to build on the foundations laid in 2015.

The key initiatives for 2016 are:

  1. New Skills Agenda for Europe

  2. New start for working parents

  3. Circular Economy Package

  4. Review of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020

  5. Next steps for a sustainable European future

  6. Implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy

  7. Energy Union Package

  8. Labour Mobility Package

  9. Follow-up to Single Market Strategy

  10. European Defence Action Plan

  11. Action Plan on VAT

  12. Corporate Tax Package

  13. A Space Strategy for Europe

  14. Pillar of Social Rights

  15. European Bank Deposit Insurance Scheme / Completion of the Banking Union

  16. Follow-up to the Trade and Investment Strategy

  17. Implementation of European Agenda on Security

  18. Better Migration Management

  19. Border Management Package

  20. Post-Cotonou Framework

  21. Capacity building in the security sector

  22. Commission contribution to the Global Strategy

  23. Proposal for an Inter-Institutional Agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register

What is REFIT?

REFIT is the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme. Its objective is to review the existing stock of EU legislation to ensure it remains fit for purpose and delivers the results intended. It aims to keep the body of EU law lean and healthy, remove unnecessary burdens and adapt existing legislation without compromising on our ambitious policy objectives.

This year 13 REFIT actions directly relate to the key initiatives, such as simplifying the rules for EU funding or reviewing legislation on taxation and energy, and are thus listed in Annex I. In addition, 27 new REFIT actions will be launched for example to evaluate our maritime legislation, reduce the burdens of public procurement for SMEs, facilitate compliance with the REACH framework and make sure health and safety legislation is workable and will be enforced. They are listed in Annex II

How does the Commission decide which proposals to withdraw?

European citizens want our time and efforts to be focused on the things which will have the biggest impact on jobs and growth, and which have good prospects of being adopted in the near future and delivering concrete results on the ground.

The Commission has carefully examined all pending proposals to assess whether they should be maintained, amended or withdrawn. In doing so, it has checked:

  • whether the pending proposals are in line with the ten priorities of the Commission;

  • what their prospects are for adoption in the near future;

  • whether they can be successfully implemented on the ground;

  • whether they still serve their initial objectives.

Following this thorough analysis, the Commission is proposing to withdraw or amend 20 proposals in 2016. The Commission will await the views of the European Parliament and the Council on these proposals before confirming the withdrawals. The Commission intends to withdraw the proposals referred to in Annex IV within six months, by April 2016.

Why have you put forward a list of priority pending proposals this year?

In 2015 the EU's co-legislators agreed with unprecedented speed the Commission's proposals for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the amendments to the EU budget for 2015 in the context of the refugee crisis, a €35 billion package for jobs and growth in Greece and the decisions for emergency relocation of asylum seekers within the EU.

This joint effort of EU institutions to deliver rapidly where decisions are most urgently needed should no longer be the exception but must become the norm. Before issuing this Work Programme, the Commission has engaged in intensive and constructive discussions with the Council and European Parliament to build a common understanding of where the focus should be.

In addition to the 23 new initiatives foreseen for the coming year, the Commission has identified in Annex III of this year's Work Programme 17 existing proposals which would merit speedy adoption by the European Parliament and Council. This would allow us to deliver fast results on our political priorities. Examples include the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR), Anti-Discrimination Directive, EURES Regulation, Data Protection Reform, pending proposals to implement the Migration Agenda, the proposed Directive on the reduction of national emissions of atmospheric pollutants and the Financial transaction tax (FTT).

In the proposal for an Inter-Institutional Agreement on Better Law-Making presented in May, the Commission proposed that based on the Commission Work Programme, the three institutions would agree annually a list of proposals which would receive priority treatment in the legislative process. This proposal for an Inter-Institutional Agreement is currently being negotiated by the three institutions, with the objective of reaching an agreement by the end of the year.

How does this Work Programme compare with past years?

Under the previous mandate from 2009 to 2014, the Commission proposed an average of over 130 new initiatives in each annual Work Programme. The Juncker Commission is taking a different approach. In our first Work Programme in 2015 we presented only 23 new initiatives, and in 2016 we have again presented only 23 new initiatives.

When will you implement the proposals set out in the Work Programme?

The work programme includes all the key policy initiatives that the Commission has committed to presenting in the next year. The Commission will publish Roadmaps for each of the 23 key initiatives, giving further details on timing.

Is this Work Programme a comprehensive list of everything the Commission will do in 2016?

The Commission Work programme highlights the key political initiatives planned by the Commission for 2016. The Commission also has ongoing obligations to ensure that existing legislation or programmes are well implemented and deliver concrete results on the ground.

We will continue to investigate cases where European law may be infringed, guaranteeing the Rule of Law and defending citizens' rights within the internal market and their fundamental rights.

The Commission can also take unplanned initiatives in response to events throughout the course of the year which require urgent action at European level.

Technically speaking, what does the Commission Work Programme look like?

The Commission Work Programme consists of a political Communication and six annexes.

  • Annex I includes the key initiatives, which focus on concrete actions to implement the ten priorities in the Political Guidelines of the Juncker Commission;

  • Annex II is the new REFIT initiatives which are being launched this year;

  • Annex III lists the priority legislative files where we want the co-legislators in the European Parliament and Council to take the swiftest action to deliver results for citizens;

  • Annex IV is the list of intended withdrawals or modifications of pending proposals;

  • Annex V is a list of repeals;

  • Annex VI provides stakeholders with a list of legislation that becomes applicable in 2016.

How is the Work Programme prepared and adopted?

This Commission was elected by the European Parliament on the basis of clear political guidelines. These guidelines continue to act as the framework for the Commission's annual planning.

To enrich the content of the Work Programme, the Commission has engaged in intensive dialogue with the European Parliament and Council, on the basis of the State of the Union speech of President Juncker of 9 September and the Letter of Intent sent on the same day by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans to the Presidents of the European Parliament and Council.

Does the Work Programme need to be endorsed by the European Parliament and Council?

The Work Programme is discussed with both the European Parliament and the Council before and after its adoption. The Commission takes the views of the other institutions into account when preparing its priorities for the coming year. It is however the Commission itself that holds the right of initiative under the EU Treaties.

The Commission does not want to present draft legislation which will never be adopted by Parliament and Council. Our approach is a pragmatic one, not a bureaucratic one. To strengthen our work with the other institutions and improve our joint planning, the Commission is currently negotiating with the Parliament and Council on a new Inter-Institutional Agreement on Better Law Making, to ensure a common sense of direction, while respecting each institution's role under the Treaties. This would include formalisation of the current process for identifying priority pending proposals.


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