Speech by Vice-President Šefčovič at the Parliament on the 2022 Commission Work Programme

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

It is a pleasure to present to you today the 2022 Commission work programme.

Let me begin by thanking you for your fruitful cooperation in the preparation of this important document.

In line with well-established practice, President von der Leyen met the Conference of Presidents to exchange views on the priorities for next year. I had the pleasure of exchanging views with you during July’s plenary session, which I further discussed in dedicated meetings with the Conference of Committee Chairs and the Conference of Presidents.

In addition, my fellow Commission Vice-Presidents, Commissioner Hahn and I discussed these priorities – based on the Letter of Intent and the State of the Union speech – with the Conference of Committee Chairs two weeks ago.

The past 12 months have been eventful, to say the least.

We have had to learn, adapt, and deploy our collective resources, but we have produced tangible results: Over 70 % of Europe’s adult population is now fully vaccinated, thanks to our common approach to vaccine purchases.

With the help of the digital certificate, we have regained many of our freedoms within the Union.  And, thanks in no small part  to our joint efforts in getting NextGenerationEU off the ground, economic recovery in Europe is stronger than initially predicted.

Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has demanded great sacrifices from our citizens – and young people in particular. To acknowledge these sacrifices, we will declare 2022 the European year of youth.

To finally overcome this pandemic, we also need greater efforts on vaccines – in the EU, as vaccination campaigns have stalled in some Member States, but also further afield where the entire global community must pull its weight.

The other great challenges of our time have also had an impact in the past year, reconfirming importance of our long-term priorities. The devastating effects of climate change were visible across the Union and the entire world. Recent events in Afghanistan underlined the need for the EU to develop its joint defence capacity. And we have seen how quickly our democratic principles can come under pressure – and how we can never stop fighting for them.

It is in this context that we have drawn up the 2022 work programme.

We plan to adopt the outstanding key legislative initiatives to deliver the six headline ambitions of President von der Leyen’s political guidelines. This will enable us to emerge stronger from the crisis, to accelerate the twin green and digital transitions and build a fairer and more resilient society. In short: ‘To make Europe stronger together’.

As the coming year will mark the mid-term of this mandate, we need to leave sufficient time for co-legislators to finalise negotiations well in time for the European elections in 2024.

Let me give you a few examples of key initiatives planned for 2022:

The Green Deal continues to be our growth strategy and further action is needed to meet our ambitious target of carbon neutrality by 2050. We will therefore propose a certification framework for carbon removals, to boost their sustainable deployment and create a new business model to reward land managers. To deliver on our zero pollution action plan, we will tackle surface and groundwater pollutants as well as ambient air quality.

We are determined to continue making Europe fit for the digital age. While the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation around the globe, notably the use of digital solutions for work and for education, it has also exposed shortcomings and dependencies in the EU. A European chips act will help foster an innovative, state-of-the-art European ecosystem for semi-conductors to develop new markets and prevent current supply shortages from recurring in the future.

All citizens need to benefit from a successful digital transition. Therefore, we will propose a package of recommendations on digital in school and higher education and new measures on multimodal digital mobility services. A workforce with strong digital skills will be key for our small- and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, we want to find ways to facilitate their access to capital.

We should also ensure that citizens and businesses benefit fully from the advantages of the single market – even in times of crisis. This is why we will propose a new single market emergency instrument.

For a socially fair European economy, firmly based on the European Pillar of Social Rights, we need concrete actions to support and protect workers. We will propose an initiative to protect workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. We share the Parliament’s sense of urgency on this issue, and will examine the legislative own initiative report in great detail. We will also adopt a recommendation on minimum income.

To support a stronger Europe in the world, we will continue our efforts to support the rules-based, multilateral global order. Along with our Global Gateway initiative, fostering transport, energy and telecommunication links with partners across the globe, we will work towards developing a strategic partnership with the Gulf. This is a region of great importance for our Union on a number of regional and global issues.

We will present an action plan on international ocean governance that will confirm the EU’s ambition to lead the quest to deliver the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals. We will also propose a new strategy on international energy engagement with the goal of moving away from fossil fuel imports and towards green energy solutions.

Alongside initiatives on education and security policy under the headline ambition promoting our European way of life, we will propose a comprehensive care strategy, from early childhood care and education to long-term care.

We will also focus on citizens’ health by updating the Recommendation on cancer screening reflecting the latest available scientific evidence.

Under the new push for European democracy, we will continue to support the crucial role played by a free and vibrant media landscape in our democratic society and adopt a European media freedom act.

We will also further strengthen the rights of all children by proposing an initiative on the recognition of parenthood between Member States and continue our work on equality by strengthening the role and independence of equality bodies.           

Dear Members,

The 2022 work programme will not only be about the new initiatives listed in annex I.

With the full implementation of the ‘one in, one out’ approach, we will ensure that when we introduce new unavoidable burdens, we systematically and proactively seek to reduce existing ones. This gives additional importance to the initiatives identified for evaluation and revisions in annex II. Better regulation will also continue to support sustainability and the digital transformation, by focusing on the ‘do no significant harm’ and ‘digital-by-default’ principles. 

In total, we are announcing 42 flagship initiatives this year, grouped under 32 policy objectives.

Under the regulatory fitness and performance programme REFIT, we identified 26 significant pieces of legislation proposed for evaluation or revision. We have examined all proposals currently awaiting decision by the Parliament and the Council, and we are proposing to withdraw 6 of them.  Some of them do not match this Commission’s political ambition.

For others, we will reflect on more efficient ways to fulfil their objectives, in consultation with this House and the Council.

Dear Members,

In closing let me underline that good policy making is a team effort between all institutions, Member States and key partners throughout the policy cycle. Particularly as we will enter the second half of this mandate next year, constructive negotiations on important pieces of legislation will be paramount if we want to deliver for our citizens, businesses and stakeholders during these years marked by deep transformation.

I thank you for your hard work and spirit of cooperation, and I look forward to your interventions.

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