On 18 October 2022, the EU Commission launched its work programme 2023. The programme shall ambitiously respond to current crises and support people and businesses. Apart from positive and at the same time long overdue initiatives, it has to be pointed out that hardly any social sector initiatives are to be found.
The new work programme 2023 comprises a total of 43 initiatives, thereby including even one item more than the 2022 programme. This is in so far surprising as the coming EU elections are scheduled for May 2024 and that it is therefore highly unlikely to finalise negotiations on legislative proposals that where only presented in the second half of 2023. The initiatives are grouped into six priorities according to the EU Commission:
The European Green Deal
From AK’s point of view, the initiative on decoupling electricity and gas prices, which the EU Commission intends to present in early 2023, should be particularly highlighted in connection with the Green Deal. Even though EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had already announced the comprehensive reform of the EU electricity market in June 2022, it is still a long time in coming. Hence, it is even more important to ensure that the proposal will be implemented as soon as possible. Another subject, to which AK attaches great importance, concerns the new gene technologies; the Commission plans to present a relevant proposal in the second quarter. From AK’s point of view, informed consumer choices must be guaranteed under all circumstances.
A Europe for the digital age
In order to accelerate the green and digital transition, EU measures shall be proposed to ensure an adequate and diversified supply of critical raw materials, whereby priority will be given to reuse and recycling. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Single Market, benefits and implementation gaps will be outlined in a Communication. Following up on the Parliament’s legislative resolution, a proposal on asbestos screening, registering and monitoring will be put forward. In AK’s opinion, the measures to protect against asbestos are to be welcomed.
An economy that works for people
The multiannual financial framework 2021-2027 was prepared under exceptional circumstances. Its aim was to ensure that Europe would emerge from the COVID-19 crisis greener, more digital and more resilient. Positive is the planned mid-term review of the EU budget, which will be carried out in this form for the first time. It will allow the EU to adjust the budget, enabling it to better respond to new challenges by the end of 2023. The EU Commission will present an initiative for the digitalisation of social security systems to support labour mobility. Unfortunately, any other socio-political initiatives are sought in vain.
A stronger Europe in the world
The sanctions against Russia will remain in force for as long as the aggression against Ukraine continues. In future, the sanctions toolbox will also include corruption.
Promoting our European way of life
In order to make the move between different education systems easier, the learning mobility framework will be updated. Proposals on the recognition of qualifications of highly qualified third country nationals shall counteract the skills shortage in most EU countries. In the field of health, initiatives on mental health are being prepared; a revised Recommendation on smoke-free environments and a new Recommendation on vaccine-preventable cancers is also planned.
A new push for European democracy
In 2023, in order to protect European democracy against external interests, the EU Commission will put forward a defence of democracy package. Furthermore, preparations are going on to introduce a European disability card to ensure the mutual recognition of disability status across all Member States. Any gaps still existing in respect of protection against discrimination shall also be closed.