Final spurt ahead of 2019 European election: Juncker Commission’s last work programme

European Parliament © Fotolia/Errol Hogenkamp

In about 18 months voters in the European Union will be invited to elect a new European Parliament. Before then, the European Commission jointly with Parliament and Council wants to provide responses to major challenges such as growth and jobs. Its new work programme outlines the measures with which the Commission wants to convince citizens of the added value of European integration over the coming year.

The 2018 work programme constitutes the last of the Juncker Commission’s annual work programmes. The Commission has already delivered 80% of the measures planned for the 2014 to 2019 legislative period, explained First Vice-President Timmermans as he presented the programme to the EP at the end of October 2017. 26 new measures will follow before the 2019 European election. The Commission expects to table the last legislative proposal in May 2018. This is intended to ensure that the European legislator will still have sufficient time to conclude as many legislative procedures as possible ahead of the European election. By then, the Commission also plans important political initiatives designed to strengthen EU 27 by 2025. These include a communication on the future of energy and climate policy, a comprehensive proposal for the future EU multi-annual financial framework beyond 2020 and a communication for a European Minister of Economy and Finance.

Priority for growth and jobs

German business eagerly awaits in particular the proposals for a deepening of the single market. For example, the Commission wants to present a legislative proposal on fairness in the relationship between digital platforms and companies at the beginning of 2018. The task for the EU here will be not least to take into account the high level of responsibility borne by major platform operators vis-à-vis small and medium-sized enterprises without taking away the opportunities offered by digital platforms through over-regulation.

It is questionable whether the announced package on social fairness – which envisages first and foremost the establishment of a European labour market authority and the creation of a European social security number – will contribute to more growth and jobs in Europe. From the employers’ point of view, effective supervision of existing Europe-wide rules on mobility can realistically be ensured only by national authorities and not by a new central labour market authority at EU level. Together with the planned European social security number, this shall not be a catalyst for shifting social policy competences to the EU.

Next steps: EU institutions discuss priorities for 2018

In the next step, the Commission wants to reach agreement with Council and Parliament on which ongoing legislative procedures should be treated in priority. For German business, the only initiatives included should be those which create growth and jobs. In particular, the Commission’s proposal for creation of a single market information tool which enables the Commission to require companies and business associations to disclose highly confidential corporate data should not be taken forward in the remaining months.