Written by Nora Hahnkamper-Vandenbulcke and Stefano Vettorazzi.
This briefing is intended as a background overview for parliamentary committees (and their respective secretariats) planning their activities in relation to the European Commission work programme for 2022, adopted on 19 October 2021.
Since March 2020, the European Union – and the world – has been significantly affected by the outbreak of the Covid‑19 pandemic. To reinforce public health sectors and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, the European Union has adopted a wide range of measures in areas such as health, economy, research, borders and mobility. Moreover, under the Union’s long-term budget for 2021‑2027 and the Next Generation EU instrument, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility, €2 018 trillion has been mobilised to support the recovery.
In the past two years, the Covid‑19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on the Commission’s work programmes. While the original 2020 work programme was published in October 2019, due to the pandemic, the Commission presented an adjusted 2020 programme in May 2020, focusing on protecting the lives and livelihoods of EU citizens. According to the 2021 work programme, more than 800 previously unplanned measures were thus taken in the first months of the pandemic. While the 2021 programme also included action to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, it announced a shift from strategy to delivery, with the aim of delivering on the Commission’s six headline ambitions to accelerate the transition towards a fairer, healthier, greener and more digital society.
The Commission’s 2022 work programme, entitled ‘Making Europe stronger together’, perpetuates the 2021 programme’s twofold ambition (i.e. to recover from the pandemic and to boost the Commission’s transformative agenda). However, in line with its title, special emphasis is placed on helping the Union emerge stronger and more resilient. This should be achieved by implementing the measures agreed over the last year, as well as through additional investment and reform to ‘accelerate the twin green and digital transitions, and build a fairer, more resilient and more cohesive society’. In its 2022 programme, the Commission also wishes to pay particular attention to the younger generation, proposing a ‘European Year of Youth 2022’ and presenting a youth action plan in European Union external action.
Annexes I and II of the 2022 work programme set out 68 legislative and non-legislative initiatives to be presented by the Commission in 2022. Even if the number of legislative initiatives (45) – which are the focus of this briefing – is lower by far than the 82 legislative initiatives envisaged under the 2021 programme, it nevertheless outnumbers the 37 initiatives planned under the original 2020 programme.