European Commission’s 2014 work programme focuses on implementation, but will they be able to deliver?

The European Commission published this week its work programme for 2014, the last year of mandate before a new Commission is appointed in the summer of next year. It might be precisely because it is the last year of work for the current Commission that so much focus was put on delivery and implementation, and in particular on the “top priority” of growth and jobs.

In launching the work programme, President Barroso was very keen on communicating his confidence that the “decisive and relentless” action of the Commission and the other EU institutions will ensure work on all the pending proposals will be finalised before the end of the mandate. This focus on delivery was highlighted by the inclusion in the work programme – a first for the Commission – of a list of legislative proposals adopted in the past by the Commission, which are currently going through the legislative procedure in the European Parliament and the Council.

The inclusion of such a list is clearly aimed at exerting pressure on the other two main EU institutions to deliver tangible results in the next few months, an approach which seems to signal a progressive shift towards a more ‘political’ and ‘governmental’ Commission. This shift will certainly become more marked if – as it seems – the next President of the Commission will be a candidate previously selected by the Parliamentary group emerging as the winner of the May 2014 elections.

The Commission’s focus on delivery and implementation is well understandable in the current context of economic crisis, and President Barroso is certainly keen on showing that his cabinet is capable of swift and decisive action, after all the criticism received for months of dithering at the height of the Eurozone financial crisis. However, ensuring the 2014 work programme is fully implemented before the new President of the Commission is elected in mid-July will not be easy. Getting complex and sometimes controversial legislative proposals through the Parliament will be a particularly arduous task, with MEPs keen to show they are responsive to their constituents’ concerns in the months leading to the May elections – something which could easily translate in much squabbling over party political considerations.

Alessandro Fusco