ANNUAL POLICY STRATEGY FOR 2003
Commission Communication: Annual Policy Strategy for 2003.
|Document originated:||27 February 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:
||12 March 2002|
|Department:||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 16 April 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
||13 May General Affairs Council|
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; request to be kept informed
2.1 The Annual Policy Strategy paper for 2003 is the
first stage of a strategic planning and programming cycle provided
for in a Commission Communication of 25 July 2001.
It seeks to set out the Commission's policy priorities for 2003
and ensure that there is the right match between tasks and the
human and financial resources required.
2.2 The paper sets the framework for preparing the preliminary
draft budget, due in May, and for the operational programming
for 2003 carried out by Commission staff. The final stage of the
cycle will be the production of a Legislative and Work Programme,
due in the autumn, which will set out the Commission's activities
2.3 The first strategic planning and programming cycle
was launched in 2001, covering 2002. Following evaluation of the
first year's experience, this year will see significantly strengthened
inter-institutional dialogue, with greater consultation by the
Commission with the European Parliament and Council throughout
2.4 The Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) summarises
the paper as follows:
"At the start of its term in office the Commission established
four major strategic objectives:
- working towards a new economic and social agenda;
- ensuring a better quality of life;
- stabilising the continent and strengthening the role of Europe
in the world; and
- promoting new forms of governance.
"The proposed policy priorities for 2003 continue to
develop these key objectives.
"Enlargement forms the primary focus and common thread for
the proposed 2003 activities. With membership for new states targeted
for 2004, enlargement has entered a critical phase. Enabling the
successful accession of new member states from 1 January 2004,
and their participation in the 2004 European Parliament elections
will require concentration on preparations for the most significant
enlargement in the history of European integration. Future member
states must be supported to ensure their readiness to assume the
responsibilities of EU membership and full compliance with the
acquis communautaire. In addition, Community policies and
institutional framework will have to be examined to ensure their
compatibility with enlargement.
"Following on from enlargement, the Commission document identifies
two other objectives as being of paramount importance for 2003:
stability and security; and a sustainable and inclusive economy.
"Making progress on security, freedom and justice in Europe
will focus on internal security and respect for freedoms and fundamental
rights. The fight against crime, including terrorism, will continue
to be high on the agenda. Accession states will require support
to strengthen checks on external borders as well as border surveillance.
Immigration and asylum policy will also be a priority. In addition,
there will be an emphasis on developing relations with Europe's
neighbours and making CFSP more cohesive. Stability in the Balkans;
peace in the Middle East; and contributing to the reconstruction
of Afghanistan through effective aid will all be key priorities.
"To achieve a sustainable and inclusive economy, the Commission
will work to accelerate the implementation of the Lisbon strategy,
with particular emphasis on promoting a knowledge-based society,
strengthening the internal market for services, improving cross-border
competition and promoting employment policies. Ensuring a fairer
distribution of the positive effects of globalisation and the
resources between North and South are proposed as key objectives.
The negotiations which began at Doha will continue, and the Kyoto
commitments for sustainable development will have to be properly
"The Commission also proposes to undertake in 2003 two strategic
evaluations of policies. These help to identify whether policies
are relevant and useful as well as those programmes which have
outlived their usefulness. The focus will be on the open method
of co-ordination a form of governance used to ensure coherent
Community action and exchange of ideas in areas where competence
largely lies with member states; and programme management arrangements".
The Government's view
2.5 The Minister comments:
"Consolidating the strategic planning and programming
cycle is a key element of the Commission's reform programme. The
Government fully supports and encourages efforts to make the Commission
more effective and transparent. The planning and programming cycle
also fits in well with the Government's efforts to introduce a
more strategic and considered character to the activities of the
"The Government wholeheartedly agrees with the three key
objectives on which the Commission focuses; these reflect the
Government's own commitments and priorities. The over-arching
emphasis on the successful accession of new Member States in 2004
reflects the Government's own commitment to, and support for,
an enlarged European Union. We welcome the Commission's continued
commitment to make progress on the Lisbon strategy, particularly
given our own efforts to advance this issue and the benefits to
the UK from doing so. We also welcome the focus on stability and
security which will include the fight against terrorism as well
as immigration and asylum policy all of which are of fundamental
importance to the Government".
2.6 On the financial implications, the Minister says:
"This document will now be discussed with the European
Parliament and Council. It does not constitute formally concluded
plans but, rather, proposals for further consideration. As such,
it has no financial implications in itself.
"That said, the priorities set out in the strategy would
require human and financial resources to be achieved. The exact
resource implications will become clearer as the cycle of debate
progresses. However, the Commission has endeavoured to identify
the resources that would be needed to realise the priorities as
currently set out.
"The Commission estimates that 500 new staff members would
be needed for 2003 to ensure that new member states are dealt
with effectively from day one of their accession. The costs of
this, and other administrative expenditure related to enlargement,
are estimated by the Commission to exceed the Financial Perspective
ceiling for the 2003 Administration category of the budget by
euro66 million (£40.5 million). The Council (reflecting recent
ECOFIN conclusions) can be expected to call for savings to be
found to ensure that the ceiling is not breached.
"The additional, non-administrative, resources required by
the Commission to meet the enlargement priority of the EU are
estimated at euro24.3 million (14.9 million). For the other two
priorities, the Commission identifies the need for additional
monies of euro127.2 million (£78 million) for stability and
security and euro118.9 million (£72.9 million) for a sustainable
and inclusive economy. The increased human resources required
to manage these two key priorities could, in the Commission's
view, be achieved through internal re-deployment.
"The total monies required by the Commission to meet its
priorities for 2003 as currently proposed would therefore be euro270.4
million (£165.8 million)."
2.7 On the timetable the Minister says:
"Working level discussions will take place in April and
early May, with General Affairs Council consideration scheduled
for 13 May. A revised Annual Policy Strategy, taking into account
the views of the European Parliament and Council, will issue in
the autumn, with further Council discussion proposed for November.
"The Commission will present a preliminary draft budget in
May, for a first discussion in the Council end July. A first reading
in the European Parliament is scheduled for mid October, followed
by a second Council consideration end November and second EP reading
mid December. The Presidency and EP must formally adopt the budget
2.8 We note that the Government fully endorses the
objectives set out in this Commission paper and this effort to
make the Commission more effective and transparent. However, when
it comes to the resources that the Commission estimates it will
need to fulfil the objectives, including 500 new staff to ensure
that the new Member States are dealt with effectively "from
day one of their accession", the only comment the Minister
makes is that the Council, reflecting recent ECOFIN Conclusions,
can be expected to call for savings to ensure that the ceiling
is not breached.
2.9 Unrealistic demands of Commission staff have been
a regular feature of its external actions, with predictable results
in terms of quality of delivery. This is now widely acknowledged.
One of the purposes of this strategy paper is to ensure that tasks
are matched to resources. It may be that the Commission's estimates
will need some pruning. However we would expect the Council not
simply to ask the Commission for savings, but to cut its own ambitions
to suit its pocket. We ask the Minister to inform us of the progress
of discussions on the paper before the revised paper is issued
in the autumn, paying particular attention to the question of
how tasks and resources are to be matched. We also ask him to
ensure that we are given a timely opportunity to scrutinise the
revised paper in the autumn.
2.10 We hold this document under scrutiny in the meantime.
1197/6&7 - Not deposited. Back