European Commission : Work Programme 2007 Puts the Accent on Better Legislation'

Article excerpt

Twenty-one strategic initiatives' and 60 priority initiatives' to be adopted in the next 18 months are on the agenda for 2007, as seen in the European Commission's work programme published on 24 October (1). The document aims to be future-looking and gives decided emphasis to improving legislation. For the first time, it also sets priorities for communication.

2007 is an important year for the Barroso Commission, which will reach mid-term. It is also the year of accession for Bulgaria and Romania (implying the appointment of two new commissioners), continuing debate on the future of Europe and the draft Constitutional Treaty, commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the start-up of implementation of the multiannual programmes 2007-2013, and the start of in-depth revision of the Union budget, leading to a White Paper in 2008-2009.

The Commission has consequently structured its work programme on a number of strategic objectives - hardly a novelty since they are the same as those announced at the start of its mandate: prosperity (modernising the European economy based on the revised Lisbon Strategy, competitiveness and energy), solidarity (environmental protection, sustainable management and use of natural resources, health, citizens' well-being), security and justice (border controls, extension of Schengen area) and the EU as a world partner. The novelty' lies in the work programme's decidedly future-looking approach. The Commission's actions to improve lawmaking and communication with citizens are part and parcel of that approach.

The Commission lists 21 'strategic initiatives,' selected for their 'political relevance and advanced stage of preparation' (see box), which it is committed to adopting next year. They include initiatives on energy, migration, communication on the Single Market Review and the 'social stocktaking' already mentioned by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

These are followed by 60 'priority initiatives' to be adopted over the next 12 to 18 months, on matters ranging from the eurozone (Convergence Report 2007 and proposal for a regulation on conversion rates of currencies of the member states concerned to the euro), to mortgage credit, the solvency of insurance companies, the environment, transport, electronic communication and so on. All the strategic and priority initiatives will undergo an impact analysis.

COMMUNICATION PRIORITIES

The work programme then devotes an entire section to better legislation': simplification, codification, withdrawal of pending proposals, and reduction of administrative costs. It lists 47 simplification initiatives and ten for the withdrawal of pending proposals.

Next month the Commission will draw up a strategic assessment of its action to reduce and simplify laws, with the aim of highlighting progress achieved so far and identifying new initiatives. …