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Commission's work programme: Review of 1995 and priorities for 1996

Addressing the European Parliament on 16 November 1995, the President of the Commission, Jacques Santer, presented the Commission's report on the implementation of the 1995 work programme and the new work programme for 1996. Both documents reflect Mr. Santer's concern, express...
Addressing the European Parliament on 16 November 1995, the President of the Commission, Jacques Santer, presented the Commission's report on the implementation of the 1995 work programme and the new work programme for 1996. Both documents reflect Mr. Santer's concern, expressed at the beginning of this year, for less action but of better quality.

In the priority areas singled out in the 1995 programme - Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), employment, the internal market, external relations - much progress has been made. The same areas are highlighted in the 1996 programme. Next year the Commission will be pursuing its new approach of stimulating more and legislating less, with its plan to launch 26 major debates (nine of them by means of White or Green Papers) and 48 action plans (including ten sets of international agreements) and to present 19 new proposals for legislation (as against 43 in 1995).

Mr. Santer's view is that progress in European integration will come from focusing all available forces on the priority targets. The 1995 programme demonstrates the success of this strategy. There are two key themes to be drawn from an analysis of activity in 1995. These are:

- The rethink of Commission working methods: a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of new proposals for legislation and reform of internal management procedures geared towards greater efficiency and clarity, coupled with a booster to the fight against fraud;
- The search for transparency: the Commission now devotes a considerable portion of its attention to stimulating public debate on policy questions so as to come up with framework plans of action.

This two-pronged strategy sums up the mission that the Commission now focuses on: concentrate on stimulating action, most of it to be undertaken by the Member States, and on seeing that the accumulated body of Community law is duly applied.

The picture for 1995 can be summed up as follows:

- EMU: The Green Paper presented last May on the changeover to the single currency was the starting point for a great debate on the practical preparations and detailed timing for launching the third stage provided for by the Treaty. The clarification that resulted has substantially boosted the credibility of the EMU process. The broad economic policy guidelines for the Member States, put forward by the Commission and approved by the European Council, supply a reference framework for the process now unfolding of attaining an acceptable degree of convergence among the Member States' economies;

- Employment: The level of unemployment continues to cause concern, but acceptance of the comprehensive approach recommended by the Commission to promote job-creation and industrial competitiveness is a plus point. The Essen strategy, confirmed at the Cannes European Council, calls for joint action by the Commission and the Member States. This is a new departure. In its October report, the Commission took stock of progress in national multiannual employment programmes. The conclusions to be drawn from these are set out in a joint paper prepared with the Spanish Presidency for the Madrid European Council. The value of a Community framework for thinking on employment is now clearly accepted;

- Internal market: Three major proposals for directives on measures to remove checks on travellers at internal borders, on the travel rights of non-member country nationals within the Union, and on adaptations to secondary legislation relating to entry and residence rights have been presented;

- Intergovernmental Conference: The Commission made its views known in its report on the operation of the Treaty on European Union. Its analysis of the implementation of the Treaty has been widely echoed; a useful basis has thus been laid for reflections in the run-up to the IGC;

- External relations: There were important developments in relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe this year. There was intensive activity in the context of the pre-accession strategy. The White Paper adopted in May set out the core measures that these countries will have to take in each of the various areas of concern so as to bring their legislation gradually into line with Union legislation.

Following a comprehensive approach, the Commission established new guidelines for closer relations with a series of partners on the international scene in the bilateral context (United States, Russia, Japan, China, South Africa), the regional context (Mediterranean, Mercosur, Asia) and the multilateral context (agreement on financial services). The mid-term review of the fourth Lome Convention was the major event as regards development cooperation and an unprecedented effort was made on the humanitarian aid front, especially in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
DE

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