Written by Etienne Bassot and Wolfgang Hiller,
As the European Parliament reaches the end of its 2014-2019 mandate and the European Commission approaches the end of its term, it is timely to look back at the commitments made by the Juncker Commission when it took office in 2014 and assess to what extent it has delivered. Since 2014, this biannual publication has regularly assessed, quantitatively and qualitatively, the Juncker Commission’s performance on the basis of its own standards. This final issue in the series covers the past semester and before, reporting on the Juncker Commission’s term as a whole, examining what the EU institutions have been able – or not – to collectively enact.
The 2014 priorities
Prior to his election as President of the European Commission in July 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker set out the policy priorities that would serve as the political mandate for his term in office. The aim was to make a difference and deliver concrete results for citizens, on each of the following 10 priorities:
- A new boost for jobs, growth and investment
- A connected digital single market
- A resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy
- A deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base
- A deeper and fairer economic and monetary union (EMU)
- A reasonable and balanced free trade agreement with the United States
- An area of justice and fundamental rights based on mutual trust
- Towards a new policy on migration
- Europe as a stronger global actor
- A union of democratic change.
Changes and challenges every year
Since President Juncker and the college of commissioners took office in November 2014, every year has brought its share of changes and challenges, some unexpected in their extent, others in their nature. To name just a few, 2015 started with a series of terrorist attacks that were to spread during that year and in subsequent ones and lead to a strengthened focus on security. Later that year, the record-high number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the European Union had a significant impact on both policy delivery and political balances at national and European levels. In 2016, the result of the Brexit referendum on the one hand, and the election of a new administration in the United States on the other, compelled the European Union to adapt its priorities, both internally and externally, with major impact in several key areas, from security and defence to trade. While these developments have continued to unfold, they have been joined by additional challenges – such as ensuring energy independence, guaranteeing the respect of the rule of law in each Member State, or strengthening the economic and monetary union –each affecting many, if not all, of the others, and ultimately leading to a reshuffling of the agenda.
As a political player, the European Commission was faced with two imperatives: on the one hand, continue to deliver what it had announced and committed to tabling, and on the other hand, adapt its response and initiatives to an ever-changing environment. It did so through its annual work programmes and the announcements made in the State of the Union addresses. This publication assesses the Commission’s delivery with regards to both initial and subsequent sources of commitments.
To what extent has the European Commission delivered?
Overall, this in‑depth analysis reveals that while two thirds of the proposals tabled by the European Commission were adopted by the end of the legislature, almost one third had not reached agreement and one out of ten had been withdrawn. Progress varies from one policy field to another. With regard to the tabling of proposals, the rate is the highest in areas such as internal market, migration, and the union of democratic change. As for adoption of proposals by the co‑legislators, in some priority areas, such as the digital single market, the internal market, justice and fundamental rights, and Europe as a stronger global actor, almost three quarters of the proposals submitted have been adopted; in others, such as jobs, growth and investment, or trade, progress was much slower (around one third adopted). Overall, however, evidence suggests that, step by step, the European institutions have collectively enacted the ‘Juncker plan’.
Read the complete In-depth analysis on ‘The Juncker Commission’s ten priorities: An end-of-term assessment‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.