Written by Etienne Bassot, Ariane Debyser and Eva-Maria Poptcheva
On 16 December 2014 the newly appointed European Commission adopted its Work Programme for the year ahead (2015 CWP). Based on the political guidelines set out by its President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Programme forms the basis for the Commission’s work in putting these ten priorities into effect.
The procedures and timetable governing the European Parliament’s role in this annual exercise are well-established and are laid out in detail in the 2010 Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and Commission. Nonetheless, the current exercise takes place in a markedly different context to those in the past, notably as a result of the process by which the Commission President was nominated as candidate and elected to office being more transparent and political than before. This stemmed from the introduction of ‘lead candidates’ (Spitzenkandidaten) in the 2014 European election campaign, an innovation aimed at giving voters a more direct influence over the future political direction of the European executive.
In comparison with previous years, the 2015 CWP contains relatively few new proposals (only 23), though it also lists a large number of pending proposals to be withdrawn or modified. This reflects the Commission’s stated intention to concentrate its efforts on a smaller number of priorities such as jobs and growth, and to focus on initiatives where it feels that concrete results can be delivered in the near term.
Initial reaction from within the EP to the 2015 CWP has been mixed. While a large number of Members have broadly welcomed the thrust towards a slimmed-down package focussing on essentials, concerns have been raised about various issues, notably the scope and content of proposed withdrawals. None of the resolutions tabled by the political groups on the 2015 CWP achieved the majority necessary for adoption at the January I part-session, so the EP has not adopted a formal position on the matter.