European Scrutiny Committee Contents

52 Commission Work Programme



+ ADD 1

COM(10) 135

Commission Communication: Commission Work Programme 2010 — Time to Act

Legal base
Document originated31 March 2010
Deposited in Parliament25 May 210
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 29 June 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentLegally and politically important
Committee's decisionCleared


52.1 At the end of each year, the Commission publishes a Work Programme (CWP). The publication of this year's CWP was delayed by the establishment of a new Commission. This document provides some indication of the priorities of the Commission for the forthcoming year and the major legislative and non-legislative proposals it intends to pursue. In addition it gives a list of other initiatives that the new Commission is considering adopting. During 2010 the Commission aims to focus its activity on: "tackling the crisis and sustaining Europe's social market economy" (particularly in light of the economic crisis); building a "citizens' agenda"; developing an "ambitious and coherent external agenda with global outreach"; and finally, modernising EU instruments and "ways of working".[203]

52.2 The CWP is the last stage of the process which begins with the publication of the Annual Policy Strategy (APS) in the Spring. The Annual Policy Strategy forms the basis of a dialogue between the EU Institutions and with the national parliaments over where the Commission's priorities lie.

52.3 The Committee conducted an inquiry into the APS in 2007 but in the years since it has concluded that the high level of generality of the APS and its lack of detail on specific policy measures do not make the document an appropriate subject for a formal inquiry. Its chief value is that it alerts Members of the Committee to the issues developing in the Commission's policy agenda. The previous Committee forwarded the Annual Policy Strategy to Departmental Select Committees in the hope that they would benefit from an insight into the future plans of the Commission. The APS is a document more suited for debate than scrutiny; the previous Government committed to debating the APS in Westminster Hall and the 2010 APS was debated on 2 July 2009.

52.4 Since the last APS was published a new Commission has been established and the CWP reflects the priorities of the new Commissioners. However, many themes articulated from the APS remain priority areas of action including "Economic and Social Recovery", "Putting the Citizen First" and "Europe as a World Partner".

Commission Communication

52.5 The CWP outlines the Commission's plans for, what it describes as, "a new era" for the European Union.[204] Stating that "'Business as usual' is not an option" after the financial crisis the Communication suggests that 2010 will see the Commission focus its activity in the following areas:

—  Tackling the crisis and sustaining Europe's social market economy;

—  Building a citizens' agenda which puts people at the heart of European action;

—  Developing an ambitious and coherent external agenda with global outreach; and

—  Modernising EU instruments and ways of working.

With the entry into force of the Libson Treaty, election of a new European Parliament and appointment of a new College of Commissioners the Commission believes that the EU is "equipped with the necessary tools" to address these issues.[205]

52.6 To achieve these goals, many of which were mentioned in the previous APS, the Commission proposes 34 strategic initiatives, it has also listed 33 additional strategic initiatives and 253 priority initiatives under consideration for adoption which "cover 2010 and beyond".[206] It also contains 46 "simplification initiatives" and plans to withdraw 56 proposals, all of which have become obsolete. Our predecessor Committee repeatedly called on the Commission to reduce the legislative burden and therefore noted with regret that the projected programme represented a significant increase in proposed action from the Commission in 2010 compared to previous years.[207] However, circumstances may partly explain this reduction in proposed output, in particular the appointment of a new Commission and the fact that some proposed initiatives may not be adopted this year.

52.7 A large proportion of the measures concern the EU single market and reform of the financial sector. This includes proposals to "strengthen economic surveillance and coordination and improve governance in the euro area,"[208] with the Commission planning to present proposals for enhancing policy coordination to strengthen the fiscal surveillance frameworks. The Communication also emphasises that the Commission is working with other EU institutions to ensure that the new European supervisory architecture for the financial sector is in place "by early 2011", as well as options for the establishment of a bank rescue fund.[209]

52.8 The second strand of tackling the crisis and sustaining the European social market focuses on initiatives that will "flesh out" the Europe 2020 agenda, which aims to make Europe the world's most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based society by 2020. These group of initiatives include: a digital agenda for Europe; industrial policy for a globalised era, with a focus on improving the business environment for SME; a research and innovation plan; youth mobility strategy; an agenda for new skills and jobs; and a European Platform to combat poverty.[210]

52.9 The key proposal under the heading "citizens' agenda" is the implementation of the Stockholm Programme for an open and secure Europe serving and protecting the citizen" which was adopted by the European Council in December 2009. The Commission intends to present a "comprehensive Action Plan for its implementation [...] with a view to ensuring that the benefits of the area of freedom, security and justice become more tangible to the citizens." Other policy initiatives falling under title of "citizens' agenda" include: improving the recognition of judicial decisions across borders, revising the working time directive and the protection of personal data.[211]

52.10 Efforts around the creation of an "ambitious and coherent external action agenda" focus on the role of the High Representative and the establishment of the European External Action Service. The Commission argues that a "high degree of ambition, coordination and discipline is necessary"[212] for the EU to speak with one voice and be heard on the global stage, and states that it believes that the Lisbon Treaty has given the Union the tools it need better advance European interests on the international negotiations.

52.11 Outside the new institutional arrangements the Commission's foreign policy priorities will include: the production of a trade strategy for Europe 2020 which will focus on concluding the ongoing multi-lateral and bi-lateral negotiations as well as better enforcement of existing agreements; continuing the enlargement process with progress being linked to steps taken by candidate countries on internal reform, with particular emphasis on the rule of law; and international development with the Commission proposing an EU action plan leading up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals Summit.[213]

52.12 The Communication states that while the CWP highlights a number of new initiatives "a key focus of the Commission's work in 2010 will be about making effective use of existing policy instruments and paving the way for their modernisation."[214] The most significant issue raised under this heading is the Commission's proposed review of the EU budget. The Commission says that "the budget of the EU must serve to address the main challenges facing Europe and provide real value added in promoting the Union's key policy objectives." To this end it intends to put forward a review of the budget this year and has undertaken to conduct in-depth consultations with stakeholders on the future of key EU spending priorities including the common agricultural policy, cohesion policy and research policy. The work programme section on reform also reiterates the Commission's aim to reduce the overall regulatory burden by 25% by 2012.[215]

The Government's view

52.13 As the Minister for Europe (David Liddington) notes in the Explanatory Memorandum of 29 June 2010, the CWP covers a broad range of issues and the Government will provide detailed responses to the policy initiatives that the Commissions has outlined in this document when legislative proposals are put forward. However, there are several areas where the Government has indicated its broad support for the direction in which the Commission is moving. For example in the area of finance, business and trade the Government says that it "welcomes the Commission's aim to focus the EU budget so it can provide real EU value."[216] It also supports the increased emphasis being placed on trade negotiations and the renewed focus the Europe 2020 strategy bring on promoting jobs and growth. Similar broad support is offered from the Commission approach to energy and climate change and foreign affairs and international development.[217]

52.14 The Government also welcomes the review of the Agriculture Policy, noting that it provides the opportunity for genuine reform to develop a policy that delivers "good value for farmers, taxpayers, consumers and the environment alike."[218] The Minister says that the Government will seek to ensure that "EU spending on agriculture focuses on the right areas, and delivers clear, visible and measurable outputs that offer real value for money." The EM states that the Government does not think that the Common Agriculture Policy should be used to "address socio-economic issues, which are better targeted by other rural development measures."[219]

52.15 There are two notable areas where the Minister says that the Government is not able to support the Commission's proposals. The first is the working time directive on which the Government says that it will not agree to any removal of the opt-out "which gives people choice over their working hours."[220] The second area is Justice and Home Affairs. The Government will not participate in the establishment of any European Public Prosecutor, nor will it endorse the "Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme." The reason given is that the Government believes that there are "a number of respects in which it does not reflect the Stockholm Programme or the views of the Government."[221] The Minister says that other matters in EU criminal legislation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis "with a view to maximising security, protecting civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system."[222]

52.16 The Minister also says that the Government is seeking to set aside time in Westminster Hall for a debate on the Commission Work Plan.[223]


52.17 As in previous years, we consider that the Work Programme provides a useful summary of the Commission's priorities for the next 12 months. We therefore recommend it to the relevant Departmental Select Committees for their information and to indicate possible future areas for inquiry. The list of strategic proposals to be adopted by the Commission in 2010 is attached as an Annex to this chapter.

52.18 We welcome the Government's decision to set aside time to debate the Commission's Work Programme in Westminster Hall. In previous years the Government has made time to debate the Annual Policy Strategy. However, we consider the Work Programme to be a better document on which to debate Commission's future programme as it contains more information on which initiatives are likely to taken forward.

52.19 Our predecessor Committee frequently called on the Commission to reduce the volume of legislation and we therefore welcome the plans to reduce the legislative burden by 25% by 2015. However, this commitment seems at odds with the large number of new strategic and priority initiatives outlined in this work programme. While we acknowledge that the new College of Commissioners wishes to set out its agenda, indiscriminately listing all possible policy areas in which they are considering action is not a helpful way to achieve this.

52.20 As each proposal comes forward it will be subject to scrutiny by the Committee in the normal way. In the meantime, we are content to clear the document.

Annex: Summary of the strategic initiatives scheduled for adoption by the Commission under the Work Programme for 2010 and those under consideration for adoption

Note: The measures are arranged according to our assessment of which Government Department is likely to be given responsibility for them, based on our experience with similar proposals. This assessment may not always be correct and may change with circumstance.

The document also contains a longer, indicative list, of possible priority initiatives under consideration for 2010 and beyond. That information is not reproduced here.
Dept. Subject Type of proposal Expected date of adoption
HMTCommunication on the establishment of a system of enhanced policy coordination based on broader and deeper surveillance Non-Legislative action/ Commission Communication 2nd Quarter
HMTLegislative proposals to improve transparency and stability in Derivatives markets (CCP) Legislative Proposal 2nd Quarter
HMTLegislative initiative on short selling/Credit Default Swaps Legislative Proposal 3rd Quarter
HMTRevision of the Directive on Deposit Guarantee Schemes Legislative Proposal/ Directive 2nd Quarter
HMTRevision of the Market Abuse Directive Legislative Proposal/ Directive 4th Quarter
HMTCommunication on effective and efficient crisis management framework Non-Legislative action/ Commission Communication 4th Quarter
HMTRevision of the Capital Requirement Directive (CRD IV) Legislative Proposal/ Directive 4th Quarter
HMTCommunication on options for bank resolution funds Non-Legislative action/ Commission Communication 2nd Quarter
BISCommunication on a European Digital Agenda Legislative and Non-Legislative measures 2nd Quarter
BISCommunication on "An Industrial Policy for the Globalised Era" Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 3rd Quarter
BISCommunication on a European Plan for Research and Innovation Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 3rd Quarter
BIS"Youth on the Move" initiative Non-Legislative action 4th Quarter
BIS/DWPCommunication on Youth Employment Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 4th Quarter
BIS/DWPAgenda for New skills and jobs Non-Legislative action 3rd Quarter
DWPCommunication on the platform against poverty Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 4th Quarter
BISRelaunch of the Single Market Non-Legislative action 2nd Quarter
BISRegulation governing translation requirements for the future EU patent Legislative Proposal/ Regulation 2nd Quarter
DfTWhite Paper on the future of transport Non-Legislative action/ White Paper 4th Quarter
ECCEnergy Infrastructure Package:
  • Communication on Energy Infrastructure Development for the 2020/2030 horizon
  • Commission staff working paper one energy infrastructure
  • Communication on the preparation of a blue print for offshore grids in the Northern Seas of Europe
  • Report on the state of play for smart grids
Legislative and Non-Legislative measures 4th Quarter
HO/ MoJAction Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme Non-Legislative action 2nd Quarter
MoJRevision of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I) Legislative Proposal/ Regulation 4th Quarter
BISRevision of the Working Time Directive Legislative Proposal/ Directive 4th Quarter
MoJ/ BISCommunication on the European contract law — Method towards the adoption of the Common Framework Reference Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 4th Quarter
HOCitizens Report including analysis and remedies for obstacles to free movement Non-Legislative action 4th Quarter
MoJNew comprehensive legal framework for data protection Legislative Proposal 4th Quarter
HOCommunication on Internal Security Strategy Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 4th Quarter
DWPGreen Paper on Pensions Non-Legislative action/ Green Paper 2nd Quarter
DEFRACommunication on a new post-2010 EU biodiversity strategy Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 4th Quarter
HOCommunication on the reinforcement of the EU's Disaster Response Capacity Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 4th Quarter
BISCommunication on "A trade strategy for Europe 2020" Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication 3rd Quarter
DFIDCommunication on the Union contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals a twelve point action plan in support of the MDGs Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication Not given
HMTBudget Review Non-Legislative action 3rd Quarter
DEFRACommunication on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy Non-Legislative action 4th Quarter
BIS/DCLGFifth report on economic, social and territorial cohersion Non-Legislative action 4th Quarter

Dept. Subject Type of proposal Expected date of adoption
DEFRA Legislative proposals as a follow-up to the Commission Communication on Common Agriculture Policy post 2013 Legislative Proposal N/A
HMT Proposals for a new Multiannual Financial Framework Legislative Proposal N/A
ECC Communication on "Mainstreaming Climate Adaption and Mitigation in EU policies and climate proofing of financial instruments" Non-legislative action / Commission Communication N/A
DFID Future of the European Development Fund (EDF) Legislative Proposal N/A
DfE/BIS Proposal of the Commission for a Council Recommendation on Early School Leaving Legislative Proposal N/A
DfE/BIS Proposal for an intergrated Youth on the Move programme 2014 — 2020 Legislative Proposal N/A
DWP Initiative on pensions Non-legislative action N/A
BIS Proposal on the implementation of the Posted Workers' Directive Legislative Proposal N/A
DWP Legislative Proposals on the European Social Fund Legislative Proposal N/A
ECC Communication on Revised Energy Efficiency Action Plan Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication N/A
ECC Energy Action Plan 2011-2020 Non-Legislative action N/A
ECC Roadmap for low carbon energy system by 2050 Non-Legislative action

DEFRA EU Plant Health Strategy To be determined N/A
BIS Green Paper on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the EU Non-Legislative action / Green Paper N/A
HO Legislative proposal to set up Entry Exit System Legislative Proposal N/A
HO Legislative proposals to set up Registered Traveller Programme Legislative Proposal N/A
DfID Regulation on the establishment of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps Legislative Proposal/ Regulation N/A
BIS White Paper on the Relaunch of the Single Market Non-Legislative action / White Paper N/A
BIS Legislative initiative on a framework for crisis management and resolution Legislative Proposal N/A
MoJ Legislative instrument on the Common Framework Reference Legislative Proposal N/A
DEFRA Proposal s on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy Legislative Proposal N/A
DEFRA Green Paper on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy Non-legislative action / Green Paper N/A
BIS Legislative proposals on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund (CF) Legislative Proposal N/A
BIS Communication Towards a Resource Efficient Europe and a Smart, Sustainable Bio-Economy Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication N/A
BIS Communication proposal 8th Framework Programme Legislative Proposal N/A
BIS Communication proposal 8th Euratom Framework Programme Legislative Proposal N/A
HMT Communication on the future VAT strategy Non-Legislative action / Commission Communication N/A
BIS Proposals for a Regulation applying the scheme of the Generalised System of Preference from 1 January 2014 Legislative Proposal/ Regulation N/A
DfT Sustainable transport package: Revising the TEN-T guidelines Legislative and Non-Legislative measures N/A
DfT Sustainable transport package: Strategic Transport Technology Plan Non-Legislative measures N/A

203   Commission Work Programme, p3. Back

204   Ibid. Back

205   Ibid. Back

206   Ibid, Addendum.  Back

207   There were 12 strategic initiatives in 2009, 26 in 2008, 21 in 2007 and 31 in 2006. Back

208   Commission Communication "Commission Work Programme 2010: Time to Act" , 8388/10, COM (2010) 135, p4. Back

209   Ibid, p4. Back

210   Ibid, p5. Back

211   Ibid, p7. Back

212   Ibid, p9. Back

213   Ibid. Back

214   Ibid, p10. Back

215   Ibid, p11. Back

216   Minister's Explanatory Memorandum, para 24. Back

217   Ibid, para 34-44, 37 -39. Back

218   Ibid, para 40. Back

219   Ibid, para 41. Back

220   Ibid,para 28. Back

221   Ibid, para 30. Back

222   Ibid, para 30. Back

223   Ibid, para 47. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 22 September 2010