Annexes to COM(2020)37 - Commission Work Programme 2020 A Union that strives for more - EU monitor

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Annexes to COM(2020)37 - Commission Work Programme 2020 A Union that strives for more

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dossier COM(2020)37 - Commission Work Programme 2020 A Union that strives for more.
document COM(2020)37 EN
date January 29, 2020
Agreement, the Commission will ensure a maximum level of transparency during the whole negotiating process towards the other EU institutions, Member States and the public.

As we set about delivering on our ambitious agenda, our compass will be the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this spirit, we will put the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of our policymaking. They will guide our work across all sectors, both in our internal and external action, and will show our commitment to sustainable development at home and abroad. As part of this, we will refocus the European Semester by integrating the Sustainable Development Goals and put forward our approach to the overall governance and implementation of the goals.

Bringing the actions set out in this Work Programme to life will be a team effort between the institutions. As set out in the Political Guidelines, this Commission is strongly committed to building a special relationship with the European Parliament and, as part of that, supports a right of initiative for the Parliament.

Finally, this Work Programme draws on the indispensable and increasingly prominent use of strategic foresight. This reflects the need for sharper insights on the long-term trends and major shifts that are shaping our lives and the future of work, changing the make-up of our economies, environment and societies, impacting global power structures and our strategic autonomy.

By better understanding and anticipating what is on the horizon, we can design and implement policies that help Europe get ahead of the curve. For instance, we need to prepare for the impact a longer life expectancy and global population growth will have on the availability of natural resources or on migration flows, pensions and healthcare. At the same time, we need to focus on the demographic decline affecting much of the EU, including rural depopulation.

There are many more telling examples which show the importance of equipping ourselves with the best possible knowledge on emerging risks and opportunities, as well as the drivers and dependencies behind them. Strategic foresight will help us take a more pragmatic, long-term approach to securing our global leadership and guiding our policies for the years to come.

The major initiatives listed below and in the annexes to this Work Programme tell the story of what we want to achieve. They are not an exhaustive or definitive list and for ease of reading are grouped under six headline ambitions. The position of an initiative does not change the responsibilities set out in the mission letters sent to every Member of the College by President von der Leyen. More challenges and opportunities will emerge over the course of the year and the Commission will be ready to act swiftly.

2.Delivery on the six headline ambitions 

2.1.A European Green Deal

The most pressing challenge, responsibility and opportunity for Europe is keeping our planet and people healthy. This is the defining task of our times. The increase in global temperature, the depletion of natural resources and continued biodiversity loss, together with increasing forest fires, floods and other natural disasters undermine our security and prosperity.

The European Green Deal is that response. It will drive us forward to climate neutrality by 2050 and at the same time focus on adaptation. It will help protect and preserve the biodiversity, the natural heritage and the oceans that bring so much wealth to our Union. And it will do so by making our economy and industry more innovative, resource efficient, circular and competitive. The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. It will help create jobs and make Europe more competitive globally. Our new industrial strategy will be essential in making this happen as an enabler of both the ecological and digital transitions.

The European Green Deal provides a roadmap with policies and measures to deliver the transformative change we need across all sectors. Many of them will be implemented in the Commission’s first year in office and form a major part of this Work Programme.

At the heart of it is the first European Climate Law, with a binding climate neutrality target for 2050. Based on a comprehensive impact assessment and our analysis of the national energy and climate plans, the Commission will propose a new EU ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. And as the European Union sets its own ambitious targets, it will also continue to lead international negotiations to increase the ambition of major emitters ahead of the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

The European Green Deal proposes actions across our economy. In this spirit, the Commission will put forward a Strategy for Smart Sector Integration and a Renovation Wave. As part of efforts to foster a sustainable blue economy, the Commission will also propose a new approach for exploiting Europe’s offshore renewable energy potential. This will help citizens have access to affordable clean energy contribute to secure energy supply. The Commission will also propose an overarching Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility to modernise and green our transport sector.

The transition will also entail a change in the way we use, produce and consume things. The new Circular Economy Action Plan will help transform our production and consumption system with a view to reducing its environmental and carbon footprint.

The European Green Deal is also about addressing the alarming loss of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems which threaten the resilience of our nature, wellbeing and economy. To address this, the Commission will present a new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to ensure we can preserve and protect the natural environment we all hold dear. A ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy for the whole food chain will support our farmers to provide Europeans with high quality, nutritious, affordable and safe food in a more sustainable way.

Europe’s high ambition and the deep transition it will embark on must be properly financed. The next long-term EU budget has a key role to play in investing where it is most needed and in helping leverage the private and public investment that Europe needs. At the start of this year, the Commission proposed the European Green Deal Investment Plan to unlock at least €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade. The InvestEU guarantee will support this by de-risking private funds. To ensure sustainable investments are mainstreamed across our financial system, a Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy will aim at redirecting private capital flows to green investments. Embedding a culture of sustainable corporate governance in private sector firms will be equally important.

The transition to a climate neutral continent will only happen if it is fair and just for all. No one can be left behind. Different parts of Europe and its economy will need to make a bigger change than most. The European Union must support Member States with the targeted investment they need to make that transition. The Just Transition Mechanism, and its accompanying Just Transition Fund, proposed in early 2020 will support the most affected regions and sectors. It will help them to modernise and diversify their economies and alleviate the social and economic costs of the transition.

Preserving our climate and environment is a collective responsibility. We all have a duty to act and Europeans have shown their strong will to be part of the change. The European Climate Pact will bring together all of these efforts, involving regions, local communities, civil society, schools, industry and individuals.

2.2.A Europe fit for the digital age

The digital transition is already having a significant impact on every aspect of our lives and careers. It opens up new opportunities to connect, communicate, solve societal issues and do business. The European Union has all the assets to make the most of this transformation and become a digital leader across the board. It must move first on the future technologies with the most potential, while ensuring the European approach is human, ethical and values-based.

A new European Data Strategy will enable us to make the most of the enormous value of non-personal data as an ever-expanding and re-usable asset in the digital economy. The Commission will also put forward a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence to support its development and uptake and ensure full respect of European values and fundamental rights. Making the most of artificial intelligence will help us find new solutions to old problems and reduce the time required to perform a broad range of tasks. However, we need to establish an ecosystem of trust to ensure it develops within clearly defined ethical boundaries.

A new Digital Services Act will reinforce the single market for digital services and help provide smaller businesses with the legal clarity and level playing field they need. Protecting citizens and their rights, not least the freedom of expression, will be at the core of our efforts.

Digitalisation and cybersecurity are two sides of the same coin. To further strengthen overall cybersecurity in the Union, the Commission will review the Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems. We will also put forward initiatives to make digital finance more robust against cyber-attacks, including a Proposal on Crypto Assets. 

Enhancing Europe’s digital leadership and strategic autonomy will require a strengthening of our industrial and innovation capacity. To support this, the Commission will propose a comprehensive new Industrial Strategy for Europe that supports the ecological and digital transition and upholds fair competition. This will be backed up with a dedicated SME Strategy that will make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to operate, scale up and expand. Specific attention will be paid to the media and audio-visual sectors.

Making markets work better for consumers, business and society will be essential in making Europe fit for the digital age. We can only reap the benefits of our unique single market if the rules are respected on the ground. The Commission will therefore report on the Single Market Barriers and propose a Single Market Enforcement Action Plan to ensure better implementation and enforcement. We also need to ensure fair competition and the level playing field in the global market. A White Paper on an Instrument on Foreign Subsidies will reflect on possible new tools to address the distortive effects of foreign subsidies in the single market. This will help prepare the ground for a legislative proposal in 2021.

Services provided via online platforms have opened up new opportunities for labour, such as flexibility for working time. However, there is growing uncertainty on a number of issues for platform-based work. These include employment status, working conditions, access to social protection, and access to representation and collective bargaining. We will therefore propose ways next year to improve the labour conditions for platform workers.

Investment in digital skills will be essential to address a widening skills gap and changing work patterns, as well as to regain European mastery and ownership of key technologies. Coupled with improving digital literacy, this will be the driver of the updated Digital Education Action Plan. A Communication on the Future of Research and Innovation and the European Research Area will look at how we can better pool resources, as well as deepen our research, innovation and knowledge capacity.

2.3.An economy that works for people

Europe’s economy is now growing for the seventh consecutive year, a trend set to continue this year and next. Employment is at a record high and unemployment at its lowest recorded level since the turn of the century. However, unemployment and poverty levels remain too high in some Member States. Inequalities persist and regional disparities within countries have increased. With clouds on the horizon, notably linked to a global economic slowdown, significant challenges will lie ahead.

Europe has a unique social market economy that allows us to combine social fairness, sustainability and economic growth. This helps drive our competitive sustainability. Putting the social and the market together will be more important than ever as we embark on our twin transitions. In its Communication on a Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions, the Commission launched a process of dialogue and consultation to prepare the ground for an Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.

In parallel, the Commission will put forward a legal instrument on fair minimum wages for workers in the EU, in consultation with social partners and all relevant stakeholders. This will respect national traditions and collective bargaining. A proposal for a European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme will aim to support those in work and protect those who have lost their jobs because of external shocks, notably by supporting their reskilling.

A new European Child Guarantee, to be presented next year, will be an important tool in fighting poverty and ensuring children have access to basic services. To help young people to get the education, training and job opportunities they need, the Commission will reinforce the Youth Guarantee.

Since the recent financial crisis, we have made marked progress to strengthen the single currency area and make Europe's Economic and Monetary Union more robust. However, important steps still need to be taken. The Commission will review the economic governance framework and provide an overview of how fiscal rules have worked in recent years. The review will launch a broad consultation with Member States and other stakeholders to explore ways to improve the economic governance framework of the EU.

The Commission will continue to monitor the implementation of Bulgaria and Croatia’s policy commitments made in view of joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism, a critical step towards the adoption of the euro.

The Action Plan on the Capital Markets Union will aim at better integrating national capital markets and ensuring equal access to investments and funding opportunities for citizens and businesses across the EU, including an initiative to strengthen intra-EU investment protection. This work, along with completing the Banking Union, will be ever-more important after the United Kingdom’s departure and is an essential tool to help strengthen the international role of the euro.

To ensure the integrity of the European financial system and reduce the risks of instability, a new Action Plan on Anti-Money Laundering will seek to improve the supervisory system and improve the enforcement of the rules.

Technological change and globalisation have enabled new business models. This creates opportunities but also means that the international corporate tax framework has to keep pace. The Commission will present a Communication on Business Taxation for the 21st century, focusing on the taxation aspects relevant in the Single Market. This will be complemented by an Action Plan to Fight Tax Evasion and make taxation simple and easy.

The Commission will adopt an Action Plan on the Customs Union that will focus on three pillars: ensure protection of the borders, promote compliance of the rules and improve the governance of the Customs Union. The Commission will also adopt a legislative proposal on a Customs Single Window to reinforce the protection of the borders and simplify administrative procedures for companies.

2.4.A stronger Europe in the world

The rules-based multilateral system has been essential in sustaining peace and stability since the end of the Second World War. Despite this system being challenged in an unprecedented way in recent years, Europe will always be committed to upholding, updating and upgrading the rules-based global order to ensure it is fit for today’s world. At the same time, Europe needs to be more geopolitical, more united and more effective in the way that it thinks and acts. It needs to invest in alliances and coalitions to advance our values, promote and protect Europe's interests through open and fair trade and strengthen the links between our internal and external policies.

European diplomacy will continue to be essential across all continents, helping us to engage with our partners both bilaterally and in multilateral frameworks. The Commission will play its full role in this, including by negotiating agreements within its competence and mandates.

A stronger Europe in the world means working hand-in-hand with our neighbours and partners. In this spirit, the Commission and the High Representative will develop a new comprehensive Strategy with Africa to boost economic relations, create jobs in both continents and deepen our partnership across the board. In parallel, the Commission will seek to complete negotiations on a new Partnership Agreement between the EU and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, to replace the Cotonou agreement that expires at the end of February 2020.

Closer to home, the European Union is committed to deepening its partnership with the Western Balkans – a region with which it shares so much. A credible accession perspective for the region is of enormous strategic importance to the Union and to the region itself. This will be reaffirmed in the Commission’s contribution to the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb in May 2020. The Commission will continue to push for the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. In parallel, it will seek to keep up the momentum by putting forward ways to enhance the accession process, including on the enlargement methodology and on a reinforced investment framework.

Europe has established a strong partnership with its Eastern neighbours, building a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation. In order to maintain and further strengthen the dynamism of this important relationship we will put forward a new Eastern Partnership post-2020 outlining a new set of long-term policy objectives.

The European Union believes that free, fair and open trade can only function with a strong and effective World Trade Organization (WTO). The Commission intends to lead international efforts and work with partners to reform the WTO. We will strengthen our call for rules that are fair, effective, and enforceable and that create a level playing field for all trading parties. The Commission therefore intends to launch a broad initiative on WTO reform following the next WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2020, with a view to reaching a comprehensive agreement.

We will also uphold the rules-based global order through a Communication on Strengthening Europe’s Economic and Financial Sovereignty. This will build on the stronger international role of the euro. It will also prepare the ground for a reinforced sanctions mechanism next year to ensure that Europe is more resilient to extraterritorial sanctions by third countries and that sanctions imposed by the EU are properly enforced.

The Commission will work closely with the Council on an Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that will focus on the EU’s leading role in setting standards on human rights and upholding International Humanitarian Law. The Commission will also put forward an Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in External Relations.

2.5.Promoting our European way of life

The European way of life is built around our values of solidarity, equality and fairness. It is about feeling safe, secure and having peace of mind, supporting the most vulnerable in our society and championing inclusion. It is about finding common solutions to shared challenges and equipping people with the skills they need, and investing in their health and wellbeing. It is about building stronger, more cohesive and more resilient European societies.

The European Union has an important role in helping Europeans take care of their health. We want Europe to take the lead in the fight against cancer. The Commission will put forward Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to support Member States in their efforts to improve cancer prevention and care. The Commission will also launch a Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe to continue ensuring the quality and safety of medicines and consolidating the sector’s global competitiveness. Europe should also make sure that all patients can benefit from innovation while resisting the pressure of increasing costs of medicines.

Part of the European way of life is about fostering skills, education and inclusion. This provides the tools and knowledge for people to thrive and play their full part in the twin transitions. The Commission is fully committed to making the European Education Area a reality by 2025. This requires a whole of life approach, from early to adult age. We will present a new Skills Agenda for Europe to help identify and fill skills shortages, as well as support reskilling. We will also present a new Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion to ensure our societies protect the most vulnerable.

Feeling secure and having peace of mind is one of the most basic and important priorities for Europeans. Nothing can be more important for our way of life than protecting our children. In this spirit, the Commission will set out an EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse.

In recent years, new, increasingly complex cross-border and cross-sectorial security threats have emerged, highlighting the need for closer cooperation on security at all levels. The Commission will put forward a new EU Security Union Strategy in order to set out the areas where the Union can bring added value to support Member States in ensuring security – from combatting terrorism and organised crime, to preventing and detecting hybrid threats, to cybersecurity and increasing the resilience of our critical infrastructure. The Commission will also strengthen the Europol mandate in order to reinforce operational police cooperation. 

The EU has taken major strides in its work on migration and borders since the 2015 European Agenda on Migration. To give the impetus and the fresh start needed, the Commission will come forward with a New Pact on Migration and Asylum. This will be a whole-of-route approach, acknowledging that the internal and external aspects of migration are inextricably linked. The reform of the Common European Asylum Policy will remain an essential part of this comprehensive approach. The Commission will deliver a more resilient, more humane and more effective migration and asylum system, which will also underpin confidence in the Schengen Area of free movement.

2.6.A new push for European democracy

Upholding a strong and vibrant democracy in Europe is a question of legitimacy and trust. Democracy is a core value of our Union, together with fundamental rights and the rule of law. However, European democracy faces multiple challenges, both from outside and from within.

To respond to this, the Commission will present a European Democracy Action Plan to help improve the resilience of our democracies and address the threats of external interference in European elections. The aim will be to counter disinformation and to adapt to evolving threats and manipulations, as well as to support free and independent media.

To help further strengthen our democracy, citizens, EU institutions, national, regional and local politicians will join forces in a debate in the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Commission has put forward its ideas on the Conference in January in order to swiftly agree its scope, format and objectives with the European Parliament and Council.

Part of the strength of our democracy is our determination to uphold the rights and the rule of law. The work to protect them never stops. As part of the new rule of law mechanism, the Commission will launch its first Annual Rule of Law Report, covering all Member States. This will contribute to strengthening Europe’s rule of law culture in the EU. It will also put forward a new Strategy for the Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights with focus on awareness raising at national level.

Equality is a core value of the European Union and is a driver for economic growth and social well-being. The Commission will present a Gender Equality Strategy to address the key challenges that women face today, including gender-based violence, economic independence and access to the labour market. Proposals on pay transparency will be put forward.

The Commission will also take action to promote equality and better inclusion of Roma people. A dedicated Strategy will help ensure the equality of LGBTI people across the EU. Particular attention must always be given to protecting the most vulnerable. The Commission will put forward an EU Strategy for Victims’ Rights

As part of our work to better understand and respond these changes, the Commission will present a Report on the Impact of Demographic Change. This will look at how new demographic realities affect everything from social and regional policy, health, finance, digital connectivity, skills and integration. The Commission will also propose a long-term vision for rural areas and a Green Paper on Ageing.

The Commission’s new Consumer Agenda will align consumer protection with today’s realities, notably cross-border and online transactions. It will allow consumers to make informed choices and play an active role in the ecological and digital transitions.

3.Review of initiatives proposed under previous mandates not yet agreed by the European Parliament and Council

To ensure that our efforts are geared towards delivering on the main priorities we have set for this mandate, the Commission carefully examined all proposals that are pending adoption by the European Parliament and Council to assess whether they should be maintained, amended or withdrawn 1 . In its assessment, the Commission verified whether the pending proposals are in line with our headline ambitions, whether they are still fit to address current challenges and can be successfully implemented, and whether they have reasonable prospects of being adopted in the near future. We also carefully considered the views expressed by the Parliament and Council.

This in-depth analysis of the legislative proposals that are currently pending agreement with the Parliament and Council, led the Commission to conclude that 32 of these should be withdrawn.

The Commission remains fully committed to achieving the main objectives behind many of the proposals suggested for discontinuity. However, the progress on these files requires taking a step back to reflect how to achieve their goals in the most efficient way.

All the proposals the Commission intends to withdraw are listed in Annex IV, including an explanation of the reasons for withdrawal.

Before proceeding with withdrawals, the Commission will consult the European Parliament and the Council on the proposed list. From the remaining pending initiatives, the Commission has identified those legislative initiatives that should get priority attention in the legislative process in 2020; these are listed in Annex III.

4.Better Regulation, policymaking, implementation and enforcement of EU law

The Commission has put forward an ambitious agenda to invest in our people, the planet and the economy, in partnership with other EU institutions, Member States, regions and civil society actors. Better Regulation will continue to be at the heart of our policy-making. This Commission is committed to designing and implementing policies that deliver tangible results on the ground, and make life easier for people and businesses. As part of the commitment made in the European Green Deal, all initiatives will live up to a green oath to ‘do no harm’.

As part of continuous efforts to improve policymaking, the Commission will prepare its first Foresight Report. This will identify major trends and their potential policy implications. It will help to raise public debate on long-term strategic issues, provide recommendations to help us meet the goals Europe has set itself.The Commission will present a Communication on Better Regulation. The Commission will strive to reinforce evidence from evaluations, integrate foresight in its regulatory tools, apply the concept of ‘active’ subsidiarity and develop more efficient consultations of citizens.

The Commission will also develop a new instrument based on the ‘One In, One Out’ approach to ensure that newly introduced administrative burdens are offset by relieving people and businesses – notably SMEs – of equivalent administrative costs at EU level in the same policy area. This approach will not lower our social and ecological standards, nor be applied in a purely mechanical way. Its purpose is to make sure that EU legislation benefits its final users without imposing unnecessary burdens on citizens and businesses, notably SMEs. For this to happen, we need to prepare EU legislation from a user-perspective and consistently apply the digital-by-default principle.

Simplification and burden reduction will rely on close cooperation with the co-legislators, Member States, regions and local authorities. To uphold its commitment to delivering maximum benefits to businesses and people while avoiding unnecessary burdens, the Commission will set up the Fit-for-future platform. This platform will bring the expertise of national administrations, regions, social partners, small and large businesses as well as consumer, health and environmental and other NGOs. The platform will consider opportunities for simplification, burden reduction, digitisation and checking if the legislation is fit for the future.

Any legislation can only serve its purpose if it is implemented uniformly. In this spirit, the Commission will continue to closely monitor the transposition and application of existing legislation. It will seek dialogue with the Member States to better understand problems, find solutions and ultimately save time and taxpayers’ money in the process. In cases where dialogue does not deliver results, the Commission will not hesitate to take strong and effective enforcement action wherever necessary.


This Work Programme and the first year of this mandate will set the vision, direction and pace for the next five years. The first 100 days will be crucial as a statement of intent to Europeans that their Union will respond to the ambition and the call made in last year’s elections.

Each of the initiatives listed in this work programme is ultimately about serving the people of Europe. To make lives easier and healthier, societies fairer and more just, opportunities more varied and accessible, and economies more modern and geared towards wider objectives. But they can only serve our Union in this way if Europe’s Member States and its institutions work together to turn proposals into legislation and then into results on the ground. The Commission is determined and committed to working in partnership with both the European Parliament and the Council to make this happen.

In implementing this work programme, the Commission will also focus on explaining what we are doing and taking on board the views of citizens, including through the Conference on the Future of Europe. Along with our work on foresight, this engagement will be an important part of deciding on future priorities, policies and work programmes.

By drawing on all Europe’s strengths, by reinforcing the link between citizens and those that serve them and by ensuring that our institutions work together we can collectively seize the opportunities that lie ahead in the next five years and beyond. To strive for more at home in order to lead in the world.

(1) In line with Article 39 of the Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and European Commission, OJ L304, 20.11.2010, which states that "The Commission shall proceed with a review of all pending proposals at the beginning of the new Commission's term of office, in order to politically confirm or withdraw them, taking due account of the views expressed by Parliament”. Provisions on withdrawals of pending proposals are also included in the 2016 Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making, OJ L123, 12.05.2016.