On 27 October, the European Commission adopted its work programme for its second year in office. The plan was outlined by President Juncker in September and then negotiated with the EP and with the Council. The EC wants to deliver on all of its 10 political priorities. For 2016, this means 23 key new initiatives. These include the Digital Single Market, Circular Economy, corporate taxation, deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and a new Pillar of Social Rights. Due to the migration crisis, issues such as border management made it onto the list, too. The EC also plans to re-evaluate legislation in 40 areas (so-called REFIT actions), 13 of which will contribute to the key initiatives of 2016. Some 20 pending legislative proposals will also be withdrawn. This emphasis on smart regulation and cutting red tape makes sense if the EC wants to concentrate on the “big things”, as President Juncker calls them. In general, it is also popular with businesses and could help the British PM David Cameron to make his case for remaining in the EU in the upcoming in-out referendum. However, MEPs have started to complain – too few new legislative proposals land on their desks.
On 28 October, the Commission also presented its final roadmap for completing the Single Market, one of the cornerstones of the Union. The EU executive grouped the upcoming initiatives based on the economic player they should help into 4 groups: consumers, SMEs and startups, innovative services and professionals. Consumers should see more protection from discrimination based on country of origin – for example geo-blocking. SMEs and startups will surely benefit from EU´s investment initiatives, the upcoming Capital Markets Union should boost financing opportunities, simpler taxation rules and easier company registration should motivate people to start businesses. The EC also plans to introduce a coherent framework for innovative services which make part of the so-called shared economy. Companies such as Uber are today in a grey zone and their business receives different treatment in each EU state. Finally, professionals should benefit from better qualification recognition and easier cross-border market access. Observers see the plan as startup- and Uber-friendly, while reception by protection-minded trade unions and politicians is expected to be rather cool.
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