On October 20, 2020 the European Commission adopted its 2021Work Programme, which sets out the actions the Commission aims to take in 2021. The Work Programme lists policy objectives and new legislative proposals based on the six headline ambitions of President von der Leyen:
A European Green Deal
A Europe fit for the digital age
An economy that works for people
A stronger Europe in the world
Promoting our European way of life
A new push for European democracy
Maroš Šefčovič, Commission Vice-President in charge of Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said,
“The priorities set out in this work programme will not only help deliver Europe’s recovery but also our long-term resilience – through future-proof solutions across all policy areas. For that, we will make the best use of strategic foresight as well as our better law-making principles – evidence-based and transparent, efficient and fit for the future.”
The Commission states that it is committed to evidence-based policies that are easier to comply with and less likely to create unnecessary burden for business and people. To that end, the Work Program foresees the creation of the ‘Fit-for-Future’ platform, a high-level expert group that will support the Commission to identify simplification and burden reduction potential. The Commission also highlights the need for impact assessments, which take into account the views of all those impacted. Therefore, the Commission commits to make consultations more efficient and more accessible to facilitate stakeholders’ participation.
One of the priorities of the Commission this year is also to increase efforts to improve the effective application, implementation and enforcement of EU law. The Work Programme stresses that the Commission will work with Member States to ensure the swift and correct implementation of new and existing EU rules. The Commission clearly states that it will not hesitate to uphold EU law through infringement proceedings where needed.
As part of the Better Regulation process, the Commission will continue or launch new REFIT exercises for EU legislation. The Regulatory Fitness and Performance program (REFIT) is a programme designed to keep the entire stock of EU legislation under review and ensure that it is fit for purpose; that regulatory burdens are minimised; and that all simplification options are identified and applied.
The European Green Deal
After the publication of the EU Communication on the Green Deal in December 2019, the European Commission has published sectorial strategies over the course of 2020 including the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy. More information about the Green Deal initiatives can be found in GAIN Report ‘EU Green Deal – September 2020 Update’.
To achieve the Green Deal objective of climate neutrality by 2050, the Commission announced that it will table a “Fit for 55 package” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. This will cover wide-ranging policy areas including renewable energy, land use, effort sharing and emissions trading. The Commission will also publish a proposal for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism on the risk of carbon leakage. In addition, the Commission will propose measures to implement Europe’s circular economy action plan, the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Farm to Fork Strategy. Among these measures are the action plan on organic production, the proposal to reduce the risk of products associated with deforestation on the EU market and the communication on rural areas.