Every year, the Commission adopts its annual work programme setting out a list of the most important actions it will take in the coming year. On 17 October, the Commission published its 2024 Work Programme and Annexes presenting 18 policy initiatives and 26 proposals and initiatives to rationalise reporting requirements for businesses. It additionally proposes 6 withdrawal and 16 evaluation and fitness checks. Finally, the Commission calls for swift approval of the 154 pending proposals before parliamentary recess in June, and the subsequent end of this mandate. In terms of timeline, inter-institutional negotiations need to be closed by mid-February at the latest in order to get approval during the Parliament’s last plenary in April, and aim for adoption.
Implementation and enforcement of EU law
At this particular stage of the mandate, thorough implementation and enforcement are key priorities highlighted in the work programme. Harmonised implementation of EU law across Member States remains a significant barrier to cross-border trade in the single market. In that regard, the Commission reaffirms its intent to work together with Member States to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on businesses and citizens when transposing EU directives into national law. It also underlines its efforts in engaging with Member States to remedy potential problems which may obstruct the implementation of important EU policy objectives. Therefore, the Commission is now implementing the findings of the stocktaking exercise it conducted with Member States in 2022, and intends to carry more systematic monitoring of the implementation of legislations in the year ahead.
Better Regulation, burden reduction and rationalisation of reporting requirements
In order to maintain the competitiveness of European businesses, the Commission underlines its ambition to reduce administrative burdens associated with reporting requirements by 25%. Progress made towards this goal will be reported in the annual burden survey, starting with the 2023 edition, to be published next year. As part of its efforts to achieve this goal, the European Commission already mentions examples such as the reform the Union Customs Code, as well as additional measures including postponing the deadline for adoption of the European Sustainability reporting standards, or adjusting the thresholds of the accounting directive.
The Commission also intends to appoint a European SME envoy who will participate in Regulatory Scrutiny Board hearings on initiatives that have a high impact on SMEs. A series of consultations with relevant stakeholders will be launched, in addition with a call for evidence to gather feedback on burdensome reporting requirements. The Commission announces that it will carry out evaluations and fitness checks to assess how legislation can be simplified and made less burdensome.
Key files for e-commerce in 2024
The work programme underlines the amount of work still needed in 2024 to close many open files still under discussion. On circular economy, proposals that still needs to be finalised include the ecodesign requirements for sustainable products (ESPR), the green claims directive, the waste framework directive (WFD), the packaging and packaging waste regulation (PPWR), and the repair of goods directive.
The Commission also announced that it will launch the process to establish a 2040 climate target, to keep the EU on course towards climate neutrality by 2050. On digital policy, a lot has already been achieved with adoption and current implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA). However, efforts are still needed to agree on pending initiatives such as the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act.
The work programme also announces a new initiative to open European supercomputer capacity to ethical and responsible artificial intelligence start-ups. Furthermore, the adoption of the upcoming Cyber Resilience Act and Cyber Solidarity Act proposal will play a big role in reinforcing cybersecurity. Work is still needed on tax and customs, especially to reach an agreement on VAT in the Digital Age, and achieve progress on the reform of the EU Customs Union. Finally, on digital finance, the Commission have put forward a package of legislative proposals to revise the payment services directive II (PSDII), and a proposal establishing the legal framework for a digital euro, which are undergoing negotiations.