Whilst the Multi Annual Financial Framework (click here to see our blog regarding the MFF)is the investment plan that sets out spending between now and 2020, the “Juncker plan” as it has become known, is a shorter three year plan to mobilise €315 billion of investment focused on 10 different themes. The aim of this plan is not only to stimulate the economy, but also reduce red tape and reform out of date policy that may have been created by previous Commissions. It’s not just all about Mr Juncker and his college of Commissioner’s, some of these actions will require laws being passed by the European Parliament and more than likely involve financial assistance from the European Central Bank.
Jobs, Growth and Investment
The European Union is still in the shadow of the financial crisis, and with other areas of the world now threatening recession, the primary objective of the Juncker Commission is to get the European economy growing again. Investments will help stimulate the creation of an abundance of sustainable jobs without creating new debt.
Digital Single Market
In the digital age, it is important that the EU’s single market is fit for purpose. As it stands there are many barriers holding back Citizens, Business and Government from making use of digital tools. The main three policy areas focus on giving everyone better online access to digital goods and services, creating an environment where digital networks and services can flourish and using digital as catalyst for growth. One of the main investments will help build better high speed and secure digital infrastructure.
Energy Union and Climate
The Energy Union is policy designed to make clean and environmentally friendly energy available to all Citizens and business at an affordable price, whilst at the same time creating new jobs and stimulating sustainable growth. The European Commission has already laid down the foundations on a union wide energy policy framework between now and 2030. The primary objective of which is to achieve an integrated energy market for all EU countries.
The GDP (value of all finished goods and services within a Country, in this case the EU) is currently at 16% for the union, the Commission aims to raise this 4% back to 20% by 2020. The internal Market of the EU was put in place to assist companies compete and grow in the global economy, and combat the challenges businesses face with globalisation. This policy will also cover stricter supervision on banks (The absence of which was the primary reason for the previous financial crisis). It will also aim to achieve better worker mobility within the union which will help people move to the parts of the EU where their skills are needed.
Economic and Monetary Union
The problem is, the Euro never really recovered from the financial crisis and is facing further instability due to the situation in Greece. The Commission is working closely with the European Central Bank (ECB) to “prepare next steps on better economic governance in the euro area.”
EU-US Free Trade
Americans and Europeans are still imposing custom duties on each other’s products. President Juncker and the European Commission are working towards getting this barrier to trade eliminated. The goal being to achieve this as quickly as possible without compromising European standards in areas such as food safety, data protection and cultural diversity. A successful EU-US trade agreement will not only eliminate customs duties but also pave the way for EU/US transatlantic standards in the future. The final say on any agreement will be given by the European Parliament.
Justice and Fundamental Rights
The Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out all the personal, civic, economic and social rights citizens enjoy in the EU. They can also be found in a variety of EU treaties. The Juncker Commission has tasked itself with helping to build bridges between different national legal systems working towards a “borderless, seamless European Justice area” that ensures everyone enjoys the same rights across the continent. Other objectives include; working with the US government to ensure companies do not abuse EU citizen’s personal data, cracking down on organised crime and the creation of an EU law against discrimination.
This is definitely a political hot potato at the moment. EU policy on migration is firmly under the spotlight after the recent events in the Mediterranean. The Commission is working hard in combining internal and external policy, making good use of its agencies and involving all EU countries in an effort to address this problem. The EU is also working with the African Union on an action plan to curb human trafficking, diaspora (the movement of people from their original homeland) and remittances.
EU as a Global Actor
The current situation in the Ukraine and unrest in the Middle East has made the Union look twice at its foreign policy. It is the job of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini to take a tougher stance. The objectives of such these new policies will include; a faster response to military threats, establishing a voluntary defence force and bringing stability to the European Neighbourhood.
In a nut shell, the Commission is taking steps towards a more democratic European Union. It will implement better regulation by designing EU policies and laws that efficiently achieve their objectives. To do this the Commission has committed itself to building a better relationship with the European Parliament and working closer with National Parliaments such the UK Government.
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