European Commission Adopts 2020 Work Programme

The European Commission has adopted its Work Programme for 2020, setting out short and long-term actions to deliver on new Commission President von der Leyen’s political guidelines. The guidelines focus on six headline ambitions for Europe, and the Work Programme aims to ensure that these ambitions will deliver real benefits for European citizens, businesses and society.

The overarching theme of the Work Programme is to successfully harness the opportunities brought about by the imminent ecological and digital revolutions. It sets out details of 43 specific policy objectives across the six headline ambitions to achieve this. These include the following:

A European Green Deal – The details of the European Green Deal were published in January 2020, and set out plans, in the words of von der Leyen, ‘for a growth that gives back more than it takes away’, including a European Green Deal Investment Plan to unlock over €1 trillion in funding over the next ten years. Following this, the Commission will set out legislation to enshrine the ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050 in law. The plans will involve all stakeholders and relevant sectors, including agriculture, energy providers, production, and transport.

An economy that works for people – The Commission will work to ensure that Europe’s economy embraces the interconnected digital and climate transitions while delivering social fairness, sustainability and economic growth. Proposals will be made to guarantee fair minimum wages for EU workers, for a European unemployment reinsurance scheme, and to ensure effective and fair taxation. The Commission will also propose a European Child Guarantee to ensure that children have access to basic services.

A Europe fit for the digital age – Actions in this area include producing a new European Data Strategy to make the most effective and productive use of the wealth of Europe’s non-personal data, including via the uptake of AI. The future publication of an Industrial Strategy for Europe will boost Europe’s industrial and innovation sectors, while the Digital Services Act will reinforce the single market for digital services and ensure small businesses have fair access to it.

Protecting our European way of life – Actions will be taken to strengthen Europe’s shared values of solidarity, equality and fairness. A New Pact on Migration and Asylum will take a whole-of-route approach to migration, as well as a new EU Security Union Strategy to support Member States in their security activities. The European Education Area will be established by 2025, and The Skills Agenda for Europe plan will be published to improve the skills of EU citizens. The Commission will also publish Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to help Member States tackle the disease, as well as a Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe to uphold standards and enhance the EU’s global competitiveness in the sector.

A stronger Europe in the world – European diplomacy will be essential in ensuring that Europe is both stronger internally and integral in supporting the rules-based global order. The Commission will publish a Strategy for Africa while strengthening its ties in the Western Balkans to forge stronger links with its closest neighbours. To strengthen the geopolitical role of the Commission, all Work Programme initiatives will have a strong external dimension.

A new push for European democracy – A European Democracy Action Plan will be published to help improve the resilience of Europe’s democracies and address the threats of external interference in European elections. The Commission will also launch the Conference on the Future of Europe, to engage with EU citizens and encourage them to shape EU actions.

Part of the Work Programme’s ambition is to improve the Commission’s policymaking and implementation activities, including the way it identifies long-term trends. This will involve becoming more efficient, and the new Work Programme introduces a new ‘one-in, one-out’ policy that will ensure new administrative burdens on people and businesses – and especially SMEs – are offset by removing equivalent burdens at EU level in the same policy area.

Announcing the Work Programme, President von der Leyen said:

‘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.’

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