Every autumn, the EU Commission provides information on how it intends to implement the policy priorities set by the Commission President. Once again, the Brussels authorities have planned their work for the coming year based on President Juncker’s Political Guidelines which he presented during his State of the European Union speech in September 2016.
According to the Programme, priorities that have previously been set will continue to be implemented and the principle of better regulatory fitness and performance reviews (REFIT) will continue to be followed.
Of the ten priorities and 21 core elements, the following initiatives are of interest to social insurance:
European Pillar of Social Rights
Following the public consultation that runs until the end of 2016, the EU Commission wants to present a proposal the creation of a Pillar of Social Rights. It will provide the basis for a European social market economy and a compass for fair working conditions and sustainable welfare systems. The Brussels authorities also speak of publishing further related initiatives such as access to social protection and implementation of the Working Hours Directive.
New boost for jobs
In order to create a new boost for jobs, growth and investment, the EU Commission intends to focus on a new Youth Initiative. By the end of 2016, a European Solidarity Corps will be launched which allows young people to voluntary get involved and help deal with challenging situations in the EU, for example through humanitarian activities or in social projects. The aim is for young people to acquire professional experience as well as learn new languages.
The plan is to make it easier to trade products across borders with a view to creating a unified Single Market and to implementing the Single Market Strategy published in October 2015. One of the aims of this is to facilitate mutual recognition. In addition, the Brussels authorities will start an initiative on coordinated health technology assessments. Work on the provisions specified in the amendment of the Posting of Workers Directive 96/71/EC should be carried out as quickly as possible. The Commission wants to use its proposals to improve workers’ rights, to create more transparent provisions and to adapt to the changes in working conditions in labour markets since 1996.
Strengthening free trade
A key element of the Work Programme is continuing or concluding negotiations over free trade agreements with countries worldwide including Canada, Japan and the USA; in addition, new negotiations will be opened with Australia, Chile and New Zealand. Overall, the EU Commission wants to strengthen the Union’s trade defence instruments.
In order to ensure that the Commission’s proposals can be implemented as swiftly as possible and provide tangible results to citizens, the next step of the European Institutions is to develop a joint declaration on mutually-agreed objectives and priorities for 2017.