The Commission has published its 2019 Work Programme, outlining major priorities for the upcoming year. In what looks to be a significant year for Europe, the theme of the Programme seems to be unity, strength and democracy, focusing on the full delivery of the 10 priorities of the Juncker Commission and preparation for Brexit.
The Programme will focus on driving forward existing initiatives, introducing very little new material, which is to be expected on an election year. The initiatives address what are widely viewed as issues still requiring decisive action, such as migration, global trading and Rule of Law, and recognise both Europe’s strengths and its shortcomings.
With this year marking the 25th anniversary of the Single Market, the Programme stresses the importance of securing Europe’s economic growth, and pledges to make the most of its potential. The Programme states that agreement on legislative proposals for the New Deal for Consumers must be met urgently. Intention is also expressed to reach agreements on establishing a European Labour Authority. The Programme also commits to concluding the remaining proposals from this Commission on the Digital Single Market. Furthermore, The Juncker Plan, which reportedly has already generated 344 billion euro of additional investments (well in excess of the 315 billion target) has been extended to mobilise an additional 500 billion euro in additional investment by the end of 2020.
Global trade is also a top priority in the Programme, which states that the Commission will ensure the progression of trade agreements with Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, MERCOSUR and Australia.
Improving Europe’s democratic strength and commitment to European values is also of importance. The Commission, alongside the High Representative, intends present a new Joint Action Plan to tackle online disinformation in Europe; an increasingly urgent issue in the run-up to next year’s elections.
Following two instances where the procedure to determine whether there is a clear risk of a breach of values by a Member State has been triggered, the Programme expresses the intention to present an initiative to further strengthen the 2014 Rule of Law framework.
The top priority with regards to migration remains agreeing the Common European Asylum System based on the principles of responsibility and solidarity. The Commission also aims to publish a Communication on Visa Reciprocity to take stock of the state of play and potential avenues regarding non-reciprocity with the United States.
The Programme also recognises areas that need improvement. It outlines intentions to agree on proposals that will deliver total greenhouse gas emission reductions of around 45% by 2030. The Programme acknowledges, however, that this is not sufficient to each Paris Agreement’s temperature goals and promises to introduce a strategy in the run-up to the Katowice Climate Change Conference this December.
Preparation for Brexit is also acknowledged, with the Programme outlining plans to adopt more legislative proposals, which include addressing the visa status of UK nationals after withdrawal, and the adjustment of figures for energy consumption. By the end of 2018, the Commission will also present various acts required for Brexit preparedness and will continue to propose measures as necessary.
The Programme sets out a jam-packed agenda both before the end of the year and before the elections in May 2018, predicting a time of change on all fronts.