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In her political guidelines, Ursula von der Leyen had already announced in July 2019 the convention of a Conference on the Future of Europe to bring citizens and EU institutions closer together. On 22nd January, the Commission published a communication outlining the organisation and content of the conference.

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On 14th January 2020, the EU Commission presented a communication on creating a strong social Europe for a just transition. Also launched on this day was the initial phase of the social partner consultation on the issue of fair minimum wages.

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On 1st January 2020, Croatia, the youngest member of the EU, has assumed the EU Presidency. The Croatian Presidency comes at a special time, since it also accompanies the first 100 days of the new Commission.

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The Communication from the European Commission on the Green Deal for Europe on 11th December 2019 had been awaited with much anticipation. During its presentation in the European Parliament, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that it was not the objective of the EU Commission to “find out what the costs of non-action would be”.

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On 27th November 2019, MEPs confirmed the Commission under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen with a clear majority. Hence, nothing is in the way of the official inauguration on 1st December. In her speech prior to the vote in Strasbourg, President Ursula von der Leyen again outlined her position on structure and substantive priorities of the Commission.

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On 26th November 2019, mail arrived for Council President-designate Charles Michel: a joint letter of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) addressed the lobbying by corporations to influence the Council. In this letter, the AK as co-signatory demands actual lobbying transparency, which, among other, had already been recommended by the European Ombudsman and has actually been envisioned by the guidelines of the Juncker- Commission. 

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The EU wants to use the European Semester to better coordinate the economic policy of Member States in order to be more effectively equipped against economic crises. In order to make in particular the euro states more competitive, the European Commission proposed in July 2019 an additional governance framework, which shall set the reform and investment priorities for the Eurozone. However, from the AK EUROPA’s point of view, this proposal goes into the wrong direction.

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On 22nd October, the outgoing Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addressed the European Parliament. In his farewell speech, he expressed his gratitude for the cooperation and reviewed the mandate after five years at the helm of the European Commission.

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The creation of a European Labour Authority (ELA), which shall help to intensify the fight against cross-border wage and social dumping, had been a major concern for the Chamber of Labour. On 16th October the authority took up its work with an opening ceremony attended by Commission President Juncker and a first public meeting of its Management Board. However, the authority must first pass its field test.

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On a global scale, violations of human rights, labour rights and environmental rights in a business context take place every day. Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) is a way for enterprises to manage potential adverse human rights impacts of their activities. This includes assessing actual and potential human rights impacts - including through its value chain or subsidiaries, integrating and acting upon the findings, tracking responses, and communicating how impacts are addressed.

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Sarah Bruckner

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