The Commission adopted its 2022 Work Programme, setting out the next steps in its bold and transformative agenda towards a post-COVID-19 Europe that is greener, fairer, more digital and more resilient. This Commission Work Programme contains 42 new policy initiatives across all six headline ambitions of President von der Leyen's Political Guidelines, building on her 2021 State of the Union speech. It also reflects the lessons learnt from the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic, while paying particular attention to our young generation thanks to the proposed European Year of Youth 2022.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “The past year has proven what challenges we can deal with and what we can achieve for European citizens when we act united. We must continue in the same spirit next year, for example to implement our policies for climate neutrality in Europe by 2050, to shape our digital future, to strengthen our unique social market economy and to defend our values and our interests, at home and abroad. The combined power of the EU's long-term budget and NextGenerationEU, which together make €2.018 trillion will help to build a better and more modern Europe.”
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President in charge of Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “It is not enough just to recover from a crisis of this magnitude. Rather, we need to emerge stronger and more resilient. In that spirit, we put forward our work programme for 2022. It underlines our determination to bounce forward from the pandemic, while seizing the opportunities offered by the twin green and digital transitions. I now hope for a swift agreement with the European Parliament and the Council on key legislative proposals so that we can collectively deliver for our citizens, businesses and stakeholders.”
Delivering on the six headline ambitions
A European Green Deal
The Commission will continue making Europe the world's first climate neutral continent by 2050. On top of its pioneering ‘Fit for 55 package' presented in 2021 as part of the trailblazing European Green Deal, the Commission will propose a regulatory framework for certification of carbon removals. It will also: take further steps towards zero-emission mobility by, for instance, reviewing the CO2 emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles; follow up on the zero pollution action plan to improve water and air quality; set new rules on sustainable use of pesticides; and advance the circular economy by strengthening the right to repair products instead of replacing them. The Commission will also mobilise resources, next to the already proposed Social Climate Fund, doubling the external funding for biodiversity. Green bonds will also play an increasingly important role and expresses our commitment to place sustainable finance at the forefront of the EU's recovery effort.
A Europe fit for the digital age
With the pandemic serving as a catalyst for the accelerating digitalisation of the world, the Commission will follow up on its path to the digital decade to deliver on the EU's digital transformation by 2030. The Single Market remains key to Europe's innovation and therefore, the Commission has been taking a fresh look at competition policy and will come forward with a Single Market Emergency Instrument to prevent future disruptions. To address pressing concerns around the supply of semi-conductors powering digital solutions, we will adopt a European Chips Act to promote a state-of-the-art ecosystem and develop new markets for ground-breaking European tech. Additionally, the Commission will propose a European Cyber Resilience Act to establish common cybersecurity standards, and begin building an EU space-based global secure communications system to provide additional EU-wide broadband connectivity and secure independent communications to Member States. Measures to facilitate the uptake of digital skills in schools and higher education will also be high on the agenda.
An economy that works for people
With the recovery gathering pace and economic activity on its way back to pre-crisis levels, we now need to reflect on how to make our social market economy more resilient. The Commission will follow up on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan as a guide towards quality jobs, fair working conditions and a better work-life balance, and will present a proposal to improve the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. To support policies of Member States, the Commission will strengthen social safety nets, crucial to cushion economic shocks, by setting out an initiative on adequate minimum income. With the financial sector being key for the economic recovery, we will also deliver proposals on instant payments to foster their full uptake as well as facilitating access to capital for businesses in the EU. Once a global solution on reforming the international corporate tax framework is finalised, the Commission will ensure its swift and consistent implementation across the EU.
A stronger Europe in the world
The Commission continues to strengthen the EU's unique brand of global leadership. Over the next year, the Commission will set out a new global gateway strategy to build connectivity partnerships around the world to boost trade and investment. By the end of this year, a new EU-NATO Joint Declaration will be presented and the Commission will seek to accelerate work on a genuine European Defence Union. In pursuit of the global energy transition and healthier oceans, a new strategy on international energy engagement and an action plan on international ocean governance will be tabled.
Promoting our European way of life
To ensure young people have the ability to shape the future, the Commission has proposed to make 2022 the European Year of Youth and will deploy a new initiative, ALMA (Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve), helping disadvantaged young Europeans who are not in any kind of employment, education or training to gain professional experience abroad with the necessary social support. The ultimate objective is to integrate them into education, vocational training or quality employment. The Commission will also present an EU strategy for universities and propose ways for a deeper and more sustainable transnational cooperation in higher education. Incorporating the lessons learnt from the pandemic, the Commission will present a European care strategy to comprehensively improve care, from childcare to long-term care. To build up further our European Health Union, the Commission will ensure access to affordable high-quality medicines by proposing a new framework for a dynamic EU pharmaceutical sector; table a revision of legislation on medicines for children and rare diseases; and boost life-saving cancer screening and early diagnosis through a Recommendation on cancer screening.
A new push for European democracy
The Conference on the Future of Europe is in full swing and together with European Citizens' initiatives, European democracy will continue to be made more vibrant. The Commission will also take further steps to safeguard media freedom and pluralism, by tabling a European Media Freedom Act, and will continue to guard the rule of law, central to the effective functioning of the EU. To step up the fight against cross-border crime, a common legal framework for the efficient transfer of criminal proceedings between Member States will remain high on the agenda. We will also continue our efforts on the design of the new interinstitutional EU Ethics Body in close consultation with other institutions. To ensure equality for all, we will propose measures to improve the recognition of parenthood between EU countries. An initiative on brain drain and mitigating the challenges associated with population decline, identifying potential solutions, will also be tabled.
A full list of the 42 new policy initiatives, within 32 policy objectives, under the six headline ambitions are set out in Annex 1 of the 2022 Commission Work Programme.
‘One-in, one-out' approach
To minimise the burden linked to our EU policy objectives, the Commission will fully deploy the ‘one-in, one-out' approach with this work programme. This will ensure that when introducing unavoidable new burdens, we will systematically and proactively reduce burdens linked to existing EU legislation in the same policy area. Expected costs of complying with EU legislation will be quantified more transparently and systematically presented in impact assessments, while administrative costs will be offset. 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.
The Commission will start discussions with the Parliament and Council to establish a list of joint legislative priorities on which co-legislators agree to take swift action. The Commission will continue to support and work with Member States to ensure the implementation of new and existing EU rules, and will not hesitate to uphold EU law through infringement proceedings where needed.
Every year, the Commission adopts a Work Programme setting out the list of actions it will take in the coming year. The Work Programme informs the public and the co-legislators of our political commitments to present new initiatives, withdraw pending proposals and review existing EU legislation. It does not cover the ongoing work of the Commission to implement its role as guardian of the Treaties, enforcing existing legislation or the regular initiatives that the Commission adopts every year. The Commission's 2022 Work Programme is the result of close cooperation with the European Parliament, Member States and the EU consultative bodies.