Quick recap: Five key take-aways from the Commission´s Work Programme 2022
In my previous blog, I was writing about the State of the Union speech and the reflections that it brings, and today we take a look at the next most-awaited development every autumn – the Commission´s Work Programme for next year.
The Work Programme for next year follows the same framework as in the previous two, highlighting policy actions (42 new initiatives this time) across its six priority areas in a perhaps slightly less heavy agenda compared to the one from last year. Half-way into the mandate of this institutional setting, the political environment surrounding the proposal is certainly an uneasy one, with inflation, energy prices, pandemic, Brexit and sustainability issues making the headlines. On top of that, all three countries forming the next Trio Presidency are either navigating the outcomes of or holding elections during next year, which could add to the complexity of the EU work environment.
´Making Europe Stronger Together´
Under this slogan, 2022 promises to be a year of youth, but also a year where equality and women´s rights-related discussions will be opened. In parallel to that, the work with the European Green Deal will continue, so will the actions foreseen with the Capital Markets Union (CMU), as well as the follow-up with the pandemic recovery. Initiatives covering the digital agenda, including cyber-security issues will also be in the spotlight.
What are the top five key areas we will keep an eye on in the year to come?
1 – New initiative on Instant Payments: one clear conclusion from the pandemic has been the increase in digital transactions, with reports showing changes in both e-commerce transactions and contactless payments. The Commission will further examine this area with a proposal coming in the spring 2022.
2 – Capital Markets Union deepened and Banking Union (almost) complete: the Commission will look at the possibility to harmonize insolvency proceedings, aiming to reduce burden and facilitate cross-border operations. At the same time, easing up access to capital for SMEs will also be on the agenda in the autumn. Finally, the infamous European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) proposal is lifted as a priority again – with the Commission aiming for changing the status quo while in mandate.
3 – Social dialogue: the Commission will release a communication aiming to strengthen social dialogue on EU and national level and to support the key role of social partners in both fair recovery and just transition. It is positive to see the initial recognition that this proposal, expected in the second half of 2022, would bring.
Connected to it, in the social field, the Commission is set to follow up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (and mark its fifth anniversary next year), as well as to discuss minimum income – in a non-legislative manner.
4 – Think global tax, act EU: following up to the OECD global tax deal, whose main target are large multinational enterprises (MNEs), the Commission will make a proposal on how to go about the re-allocation of taxing rights. This is because the OECD-level agreement introduces a global minimum 15% tax rate, as well as changes to where MNEs pay their taxes, effectively re-directing a portion of their profits to be taxed where they generate sales.
5 – Last but definitely not least, the Commission is re-launching the public debate on the fiscal rules and the economic governance framework. While being a topic up in fiscal policy, it is met with a wide spectrum of different opinions and views back when it was first launched in February 2020 and with the activation of the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A matter of principle(s)
On a general note, the Commission has emphasized that the underlying premise of its work for 2022 will be the ´one-in-one-out´principle, aiming to reduce regulatory burden. At the same time, the other guiding principles would be ´do no significant harm´ and ´digital by default´ while also ensuring equality for all and strong anchoring with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Despite the different orientation compared to previous years, it seems that we are ahead of an interesting 2022 – and we are ready for what the year and work programme will have to offer.
Head of EU affairs at NFU
 2022 is set to be the European Year of Youth
 Some of the actions foreseen are revisions to the Barcelona targets (on childcare), combating violence against women, strengthening the role of equality bodies, and more.