"A Union standing firm and united"

IF/CC – 11/2022

On 18 October, the European Commission published its work programme under the title "A Union standing firm and united" for 2023. The programme focuses on crisis management and cohesion. 43 new initiatives were drawn up by the Commission to drive forward the development of the European Union. There were no surprises with regard to the concerned topic either in the area of general social, economic or health policy initiatives. Nevertheless, these will be the last major political projects of the European Commission before the upcoming European elections in 2024.

The 2023 work programme comprises six overarching goals. These include, for example, the European Green Deal and digitisation. The objectives are based on the political guidelines of the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen and the Strategic Agenda of the European Council 2019-2024.The objectives are based on the political guidelines of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Strategic Agenda of the European Council 2019-2024.

What is in store for social security?

Several initiatives are relevant for social insurance, which can be derived from the overarching goals. The Green Deal in particular has shaped the last work programme of the European Commission. All major sectors of industry, business, agriculture including food and product safety as well as the world of work and, ultimately, workers are affected by climate-neutral measures.

Cleaner environment, better occupational health and safety

For example, the current version of the REACH regulation, which was announced in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, is being revised. The aim is to secure European competitive advantage and innovation by promoting sustainable chemicals, simplifying regulatory processes, reducing exposure and protecting human health and the environment. The inspection and registration of asbestos in buildings is also planned. These are to be tested for the suspected presence of asbestos. Thus, the information is to be made available to the authorities when buildings are used or maintained.

Implementation of the beating cancer plan: More prevention

In the area of health, in addition to the European Health Data Space (EHDS), the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is to be continued. The focus here is on prevention. A proposal to revise the European Council's recommendations for more smoke-free environments would include stricter measures on outdoor smoking, e.g. in parks and playgrounds, and extend the scope to include novel tobacco products. In addition, a proposal for new Council recommendations on vaccination against preventable cancers is also foreseen. This is to ensure access to vaccinations against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). The European Commission intends that at least 90 per cent of girls receive HPV vaccination by 2030 and that the vaccination rate for boys is significantly increased.

Mental health strategy, efficiency in marketing authorisation of pharmaceuticals

The European Commission also announces an EU strategy on mental health. It is not yet known what is actually behind this. Mental well-being - especially of minors - is increasingly in EU’s focus. Another project of the European Commission is the implementation of the pharmaceutical strategy and the procedures in the marketing authorisation of pharmaceuticals. A revision of the legal framework on the review of variations to the marketing authorisation of pharmaceuticals is planned. The initiative will aim to revise the current legislation and guidelines that govern how a variation of a marketing authorisation of pharmaceuticals for human use takes place.

More inclusion, more digitisation

To meet the target of increased participation and co-determination of citizens, the Conference on the Future of Europe was launched in 2020. This resulted in several initiatives as well as the desire for better inclusion of the disabled. A pan-European Disability Card is envisaged. The card is designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to get the appropriate support when they travel or move to another EU country.

In addition, it was mentioned in the work programme that in view of the ongoing work on the European Social Security Passport an initiative on the digitisation of social security systems and social safety nets to support labour mobility will be presented in 2023. We will follow all initiatives with interest.