Juncker tests waters on withdrawing Barroso proposals
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Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the European Commission, has begun preparations for his 2015 Commission work programme by testing commissioners’ reaction to withdrawing some unapproved legislative proposals from the previous Commission administration.
The letter, co-signed by Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and seen by European Voice, was sent to the 26 other European commissioners on Friday. It includes possible new initiatives for 2015 and possible withdrawals of pending proposals “applying the principle of ‘political discontinuity’, as appropriate”.
The Commission plans to adopt the final 2015 work programme on 16 December.
This principle was spelled out in Juncker’s mission statement to Timmermans, sent in September. It is common practice in most member states, where legislative proposals that have not been adopted can lapse at the end of a legislature unless the institution that proposed them explicitly re-endorses them. Member states have in the past refused to accept that the principle should apply to the European Commission, but they may be more accepting of the idea in a time when the amount of EU legislation is unpopular in national capitals.
Items listed for “review” with the possibility of withdrawal are packages on air pollution and waste management, a recast of legislation covering classification and labelling of dangerous substances, and an energy tax directive.
The document also lists for a review proposals on investor compensation schemes, aviation security charges, a compensation fund for oil pollution, food hygiene, rates of excise duty on alcohol and a common system of value added tax (VAT). A proposal covering plant reproductive material is also listed for possible review, but with the caveat that it would be replaced by a new proposal.
A review of the existing eco-design and energy labelling directives is also foreseen in the first quarter of 2015.
The new commissioners will respond to the letter and indicate which ideas they disagree with. Juncker and Timmermans have asked each commissioner to “examine all pending proposals in your area and to signal those which we should review together, for example because they have no realistic chance of being adopted in the near future or because the degree of ambition achievable does not match the objectives sought”.
Possible new initiatives in 2015 floated by the letter include a digital single market package, a proposal on copyright reform, a blueprint towards a capital market union, a labour mobility package and a package to deepen EU economic and monetary union.