European Commission releases its 2017 annual Work Programme

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On 25 October, the European Commission released its annual Work Programme for the year 2017. The Work Programme aims to inform the public and co-legislators of the Commission’s political commitments to present new initiatives, withdraw pending proposals and review existing EU legislation.

In the annual Work Programme, the Commission focuses on the delivery of the Junker presidency’s 10 priorities. In this year’s Work Programme, the Commission proposed 21 key initiatives as well as an additional 18 REFIT proposals to improve the quality of existing EU legislation and assess their continued relevance. Furthermore, the Commission also identified 34 pending priority proposals which require swift approval by co-legislators.

As a key element of the programme, the Commission reiterated its continued focus on working to unlock the full potential of the digital economy through its Digital Single Market Strategy.

Focused on moving forward in difficult times

In its 2017 Work Programme, the Commission acknowledged the difficult position Europe finds itself in 2016 and the coming year, where it will continue to be facing concerns over the unregulated migration and refugees, Brexit, and of a slow economic recovery. However, the Commission also stressed that one of its priorities was to continue moving forward with the deepening of the internal market and making it work more effectively, in terms of both economic and social outcomes.

As well as moving further with European legislation, the Commission identified a key priority as improving the quality of its existing legislative framework, through initiatives such as the regulatory and fitness check (REFIT), which is being undertaken in a number of different policy areas.

The Digital Single Market a key priority

The Commission will continue to be heavily focused on its digital single market strategy in the coming year, with it being identified as one of the ten key priorities in the Commission’s political guidelines, introduced at the start of its term in 2014.

This includes introducing the remaining proposals in its DSM strategy. Highlighted amongst these is the upcoming Commission proposal, which aims to improve the VAT system in the EU for e-commerce, e-publications and e-books. Ecommerce Europe is expecting the publication of this proposal. With, according to the 2016 Ecommerce Europe cross-border e-commerce Barometer, VAT related issues continuing to be a major barrier to cross-border e-commerce, Ecommerce Europe will work closely with the Commission and the co-legislators to advocate for a proposal that addresses the needs of the e-commerce sector.

The Commission also stressed the need to work with the European Parliament and the Council to secure the passage of the proposals it has already introduced, including proposals regarding geo-blocking, digital contracts and parcel delivery. Ecommerce Europe has been very active on these legislative files, working for the best outcomes of the e-commerce sector, and echoes the Commission in hoping that these proposals can be successfully adopted in the coming year.

Please find Ecommerce Europe’s Priority Paper setting out Ecommerce Europe’s policy recommendations here.

In 2017, the Commission will also conduct a mid-term review of the DSM strategy, assessing where goals have been reached, and what work still needs to be done in specific areas. Ecommerce Europe welcomes this mid-term review as an opportunity to ensure the DSM strategy remains focused on delivering its core objectives.

Next steps

Ecommerce Europe will continue to consult with its members and meet with key stakeholders, in order to work for legislative outcomes that help to promote the growth of the e-commerce sector in Europe.

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