The 2015 European Commission Work Programme
On 16 December the new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented the Commission’s 2015 Work Programme to the European Parliament. This was eagerly anticipated as Juncker had pledged to address the EU economic and institutional crisis boldly and do things very differently to previous Commissions.
This Work Programme provides so far the most concrete indication of what to expect from the Juncker Commission. In this Snapshot we analyse whether the Work Programme really demonstrates a new approach, take a closer look into the specific initiatives and forecast what the Work Programme might mean for the future of this Commission and the EU.
A new approach?
Jean-Claude Juncker raised the bar for his mandate when he said before his approval that this is a “last chance saloon Commission” to regain public trust in the EU. This means that he recognises the need to do things differently and after the restructuring of the Commission1, the Work Programme is a clear sign that he is attempting a new approach.
A common criticism against the Commission is its urge to produce ever more legislation and interfere in most areas of life. The small number of new initiatives in the Work Programme already demonstrates that Juncker is serious about addressing this critique. The Work Programme contains new 23 initiatives for 2015 while it proposes to withdraw or amend 80 existing ones. In comparison, the first Work Programme of Juncker’s predecessor José Manuel Barroso for the year 2005 contained 98 initiatives and practically no withdrawals. This reduction seems to present a radical shift from the Commission’s attitude to legislate whenever it sees a good rationale without seriously considering the subsidiarity principle (i.e. that the EU should only intervene when action at national level is not enough). At this stage it remains to be seen whether the EU really is leaving more issues to the Member States, or whether the Commission is hiding multiple initiatives within broader packages. After all, Barroso also promised to cut red tape. In any case, the lower number sends a strong signal that will hopefully be more than just cosmetic.