Aiming at supporting people and businesses – whether by reducing energy prices, securing the supplies critical for our industrial competitiveness and food security, or reinforcing our social market economy
The European Commission adopted its 2023 Work Programme. It sets out a bold agenda to respond to the current set of crises affecting the everyday lives of Europeans, while doubling down on the ongoing green and digital transformations, making our European Union more resilient.
In this spirit, the Commission aims at supporting people and businesses – whether by reducing energy prices, securing the supplies critical for our industrial competitiveness and food security, or by reinforcing our social market economy.
This Commission Work Programme contains 43 new policy initiatives across all six of the headline ambitions of President von der Leyen's Political Guidelines, building on her 2022 State of the Union speech and letter of intent.
Many of the key initiatives in this Work Programme also follow up on the outcomes of the Conference on the Future of Europe. In addition, the new generation of citizens' panels will be part of the Commission's policymaking in certain key areas. The first citizens' panels will address the issues of food waste, learning mobility and virtual worlds.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “Over the last year, we have been confronted by a collision of crises, brought on by the barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine. In 2023, we will push forward an ambitious agenda for citizens - tackling high-energy prices to reduce the burden for families and businesses across Europe, while accelerating our green transition. At home and across the globe, we will defend democracy and the rule of law.”
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President in charge of Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “The next Commission Work Programme is driven by our efforts to tackle the most pressing challenges, like the energy crisis, while doubling down on the generational ones. This is also well reflected in our commitment to propose EU measures, boosting Europe's strategic autonomy on critical raw materials, because without them there is simply no green and digital transformation. As Chair of the group on health, I am also proud to say that the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe will be translated into many of our initiatives, with citizens' engagement remaining part of our policymaking. I now invite the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly come to an agreement on key legislative proposals so that we can deliver for our citizens and businesses in these testing times.”
Delivering on six headline ambitions
1. A European Green Deal
Against the backdrop of Russia's war against Ukraine, the Commission will propose in early 2023, amongst other initiatives, a comprehensive reform of the EU's electricity market, including decoupling electricity and gas prices. To help rapidly scale up our green hydrogen economy, the Commission will propose to create a new European Hydrogen Bank, which will invest €3 billion into kick-starting a hydrogen market in the EU.
In 2023, the Commission will also take action to reduce waste and the environmental impact of waste, with a focus on food and textile waste, a topic identified during the Conference on the Future of Europe. Similarly, in response to citizens' concerns, the Commission will propose overhauling EU animal welfare laws.
2. A Europe fit for the digital age
To tackle current and future risks of strategic dependencies, the Commission will propose EU measures to ensure adequate and diversified access to critical raw materials needed for Europe's digital and economic resilience.
On the 30th anniversary of the Single Market, we will showcase the significant benefits of our Single Market while identifying and addressing implementation gaps. The revision of late payment rules will help reduce burdens for SMEs in a time of economic uncertainty. Our initiative on further expanding and upgrading the use of digital tools and processes in company law will help businesses in the Single Market by simplifying administrative and judicial procedures.
The Commission will also propose a common European mobility data space to boost the digitalisation of the mobility sector, while an EU regulatory framework for hyperloop will help prepare us for emerging mobility solutions.
3. An economy that works for people
Taking into account input from the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Commission will carry out a review of our economic governance to ensure it is still fit for purpose. To further strengthen the Union budget in face of the current urgent challenges, we will also carry out a mid-term review of the EU budget for 2021-2027 and table a second set of new own resources, building on the proposal for a single set of tax rules for doing business in Europe.
To ensure the Union's common currency is fit for the digital age, we will table a proposal to lay down the principles of a digital euro before its potential issuance by the European Central Bank.
Given the social challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's war against Ukraine, we will update our framework for quality traineeships to address issues, such as fair remuneration and access to social protection, to boost Europe's social resilience.
This Work Programme has been decided upon in a time of high economic uncertainty. Therefore, we stand ready to re-evaluate after the winter, especially regarding those measures that can affect competitiveness.
4. A stronger Europe in the world
The cruel reality of war confirms the need to ramp up EU efforts in the area of security and defence. To defend our interests, our democratic principles, and peace and stability, we will present the EU space strategy for security and defence, as well as a new EU maritime security strategy. We will also update our sanctions toolbox to include corruption.
We will propose a new agenda to reinvigorate our relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. At the same time, we will continue our cooperation with candidate countries in the Western Balkans, along with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in view of their future accession to the Union.
5. Promoting our European way of life
With only 15% of young people having undertaken studies, training or apprenticeships in another EU country, the Commission will propose to update the current EU learning mobility framework, to enable students to move more easily between education systems. As 2023 will be the European Year of Skills, we want to attract highly qualified professionals to sectors where Europe experiences workforce shortages, through proposals on recognising the qualifications of non-EU nationals. A targeted initiative will promote one of the most strategically important skills, through a Cybersecurity Skills Academy.
For a resilient and secure Schengen area of borderless travel, we will propose laws on digitalising EU travel documents and facilitating travel.
To build further the European Health Union, the Commission will propose a comprehensive approach to mental health, one of the key initiatives from the Conference on the Future of Europe, as well as a revised recommendation on smoke-free environments, and a new recommendation on vaccine-preventable cancers.
6. A new push for European democracy
Democracy is the bedrock of our Union. In 2023, the Commission will put forward a defence of democracy package, including an initiative on the protection of the EU's democratic space from outside interests.
We will continue building a Union of equality by proposing a European disability card that will ensure the mutual recognition of disability status across all Member States. We will also continue our work on addressing gaps in the legal protection against discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin.
In line with our better regulation principles, the Commission will continue to identify simplification and burden reduction potential as well as to support sustainability. To complement the systematic effort to identify and remove red tape, a high-level group of stakeholders will further contribute to targeted streamlining of the acquis affecting citizens and businesses.