European Commission adopts its Work Programme for 2017; includes focus on Digital Single Market Strategy and General Data Protection Regulation

On October 25, 2016 the European Commission (the “Commission“) adopted its 2017 Work Programme (the “Work Programme”) which sets out what the Commission intends to do over the next 12 months. The Work Programme is the third to be presented under Jean-Claude Junker’s presidency of the Commission and will also be the first Work Programme to be adopted following consultation with the European Parliament (the “Parliament“) and the European Council (the “Council“).

The ten priorities set out in President Junker’s Political Guidelines of July 2014 acted as a starting point for the Commission’s planning. The Commission split the Work Programme into five annexes addressing a number of new changes.

  • Annex I contains 21 new initiatives covering all of the ten priority areas. These initiatives include the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy, a new framework for adequacy decisions on the exchange of personal data with third countries and the alignment of rules on the protection of personal data when processed by EU institutions to the new General Data Protection Regulation.
  • Annex II contains 18 Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (“REFIT”) proposals to improve the quality of existing legislation and ensure that they are fit for purpose. The REFIT addresses topics such as the Domain Name Regulation and ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security).
  • Annex III contains 34 priority pending proposals for adoption by the Parliament and the Council. The proposals include Digital Contracts, telecoms reforms, copyright reforms and WiFi4EU voucher scheme for local authorities.
  • Annex IV contains 19 proposals which the Commission intends to withdraw within six months as they have been classed as outdated.
  • Annex V contains proposals to repeal 16 pieces of existing legislation which have become obsolete.

The Work Programme is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working Document which shows the current status of the 231 initiatives currently underway. The Commission, Parliament and Council will also look to come to an agreement on a Joint Declaration which will set out the broad objectives for 2017.