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Vice-President of the European Commission
Responsible for Interinstitutional Relations and Administration
Joint debate on the European Commission Work Programme 2013
Presentation of Commission Work Programme 2013 to the European Parliament
Strasbourg, 23 October 2012
Mr President, Honourable Members,
It is a great pleasure to be able to present to this House the Commission 2013 work programme which has just been adopted by the College.
This work programme is the culmination of an intense political dialogue between our two institutions, drawing on my meeting with the Conference of Committee Chairs, the European Parliament President meeting with the College], the State of the Union debate, the structured dialogue at Committees level, your contributions, the substantive meeting held between the Conference of Committee Chairs and the College and the fruitful exchange that I had two weeks ago with the Conference of Presidents. This political dialogue helps generate a real consensus around key political priorities.
In the face of the crisis, this work programme focuses on how the EU can best contribute to what is our most pressing priority: reviving growth and creating jobs. 2013 will indeed be a decisive year in turning Europe round to face up to the crisis and to pursue the path of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
There is no one silver bullet. All levels of society must contribute. But we at the EU level can help to show a lead and make sure the result of action will be a strong record to put before the electorate in 2014.
With this in mind, the Commission’s priorities are clustered around seven key policy areas:
First, moving towards a genuine EMU – in his State of the Union address, President Barroso launched ambitious ideas for the long term framing of the EU – a deep and genuine economic Union, based on a political – hence more democratic - Union.
Second, boosting competitiveness through the Single Market and Industrial Policy
Third, building fully integrated networks in the telecoms, energy and transport as a pre-requisite for competitiveness, jobs and growth
Fourth, Growth for jobs: supporting employment services, promoting social inclusion and entry into the labour market, with special measures to help vulnerable groups notably young people
Fifth, using Europe’s resources to compete better
Next priority: providing greater safety and security to all EU citizens
And last but not least, the strengthening of the EU as a global actor to notably unleash all our potential in the trade policy
For each of these seven key policy areas, the work programme sets out clearly the long-term vision and objectives, summarises what is missing and explains how the Commission will take up the challenge.
Let me briefly take you through some of the main priorities.
The details of building a genuine economic and monetary union are the subject of a deep reflection – as this morning's debate showed. The blueprint that the Commission will present later this year will give a contribution to this debate. It will show how to have an ambitious approach, based on the existing institutions to ensure full democratic control. Making this happen will be a key priority for next year.
This also means modernising the ways that we generate public revenue – at European and at national level. The Commission has responded today the request from those Member States who wish to move ahead quickly on a Financial Transaction Tax. Large and small Member States, determined to pioneer a new way to make everybody shoulder their fair share.
This Commission will therefore continue to push for a strong and competitive financial sector to restore growth and investment in the real economy. For instance, I see that good progress is currently being made on the credit rating agencies file in European Parliament and Council. In 2013, we will for example address shadow banking, and put key indices used in the financial sector on a stronger footing. Businesses and home owners cannot be open to manipulation of interest rates.
We are not starting from scratch. The legislation this House has passed has already transformed the financial sector. The European semester is by now established as a key pillar of economic governance. But to restore the confidence of citizens and markets, we must go further, together.
If stability is the basis for sustainable growth and jobs, competitiveness and confidence are the engines. Europe's economy can only survive with a strong and modern industrial base. And our companies can only win away, if the home field provides an optimal platform.
That is why we need a strong single market. We need to fill regulatory gaps. We need to unleash the growth potential in networks and the digital economy. We need to exploit mobility. We need to use cohesion policy as a driver for reform, not just a safety net.
You will have seen the ideas out forward by the Commission in its Industrial Policy Flagship and Single Market Acts. Building on the progress made in the first phase, we should all pull together to make sure that these actions are developed, agreed and implemented before June 2014.
Agreement on the package for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2014-2020 is critical. It offers the kind of smart investment the EU economy needs and, subject to an agreement being found, we will need to devote a lot of attention and efforts next year to the finalisation of sectoral instruments and programming of the next generation of projects.
And next year will also see new initiatives in key areas: on access to finance, in particular for SMEs; on cutting costs in areas like VAT; on leveraging investment in strategic sectors from aeronautics to pharmaceuticals; on broadband infrastructure and electronic payments.
We also need to give investors long-term certainty and long-term vision about the society they live in. Modernising infrastructure in ICT, energy and transport is critical to providing this certainty. So too is a fresh look at European air and waste legislation. In particular, it is why we need a framework for climate and energy policy to 2030.
To build the future, Europe must build on its youth. Youth unemployment is a crisis within the crisis. The human tragedy and the economic loss of leaving a generation on the sidelines is something that we can neither allow, nor afford as a society.
And if many of the levers are national, there is much that Europe can do to invest in its people; to increase mobility between jobs and across borders; to target education and training on the right skills; to protect the most vulnerable. The European Semester is proving a key tool to stimulate job creation and to bring closer a truly European labour market. Amongst new proposals will be very practical measures to network national employment services to work together.
We are a community of values. At a time, when our attention is directed at the economy, we must not lose sight of this: Our freedoms sustain our prosperity. To grow and create jobs, we must continue to safeguard and expand the freedoms of citizens.
The EU must also protect its citizens by adapting to new threats and challenges. Concrete action next year to fight arms traffic, improve judicial cooperation or protect financial interests through a European Public Prosecutor all help to ensure that citizens and companies can exercise their freedoms and rights in security.
In 2013, the Commission will also continue relentlessly to defend European values and interests around the world. In external trade, this can make a huge difference, with the potential for 2 million new jobs on the medium term. Possible agreements with partners such as Japan and the US would have a huge impact.
And Europe must continue to show that it is a positive force worldwide. Through an effective development and humanitarian aid directed to those most in need. And across an active enlargement and neighbourhood policy that will continue to make the EU an anchor of peaceful development in our region and beyond. Again, putting the new generation of programmes in place will make a key contribution.
Mr President, Honourable members,
These are crucial years for Europe. The steps we take over the next few years will decide our future path. We must direct our energies to making the most of the rest of this legislature, bringing all key proposals to conclusion before 2014.
I am looking forward to working closely with the European Parliament and the Members States to move from programme to progress. To take the next decisive concrete steps towards a stronger, more prosperous and fairer Europe.
I thank you for your attention and look forward to our discussion.