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Brussels points way to greener, more digital economy post-COVID

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Brussels points way to greener, more digital economy post-COVID

Ursula von der Leyen - Photo © European Union 2020

(BRUSSELS) - A more healthy and fairer Europe is promised in the EU Commission's 2021 work programme, published Monday with the aim of accelerating a long-term transformation to a greener economy, fit for the digital age.

The Commission says it will continue to put all its efforts into managing the crisis, and into making Europe's economies and societies more resilient.

"Our utmost priority will continue being to save lives and livelihoods threatened by the coronavirus pandemic," said EC president Ursula von der Leyen.

With the second wave of the pandemic hitting hard across Europe, she added: "We must remain vigilant and step up, all of us. The European Commission will continue its efforts to secure a future vaccine for Europeans and to help our economies recover, through the green and digital transition."

The 2021 Commission work programme has six broad priorities.

Green Deal: to achieve a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, the Commission will table a Fit for 55 package to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030. This will cover wide-ranging policy areas – from renewables to energy efficiency first, energy performance of buildings, as well as land use, energy taxation, effort sharing and emissions trading. A Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will help reduce the risk of carbon leakage and ensure a level-playing field by encouraging EU partners to raise their climate ambition. In addition, there will be measures to implement the 'circular economy' action plan, the EU biodiversity strategy and the farm to fork strategy.

Digital age: the Commission intends to put forward a roadmap of clearly defined 2030 digital targets, related to connectivity, skills and digital public services. The focus will be on the right to privacy and connectivity, freedom of speech, free flow of data and cybersecurity. The Commission will legislate in areas covering safety, liability, fundamental rights and data aspects of artificial intelligence. It will also propose a European e-ID. And there will be a legislative proposal to improve the working conditions of platform workers.

Economy: a new action plan will implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, making sure that no one is left behind in Europe's recovery. The Commission will also come forward with a new European child guarantee, ensuring access to basic services like health and education for all children. It will revise the framework for handling EU bank failures, take measures to boost cross-border investment in the EU, and step up the fight against money laundering.

Europe in the world: the Commission will propose a Joint Communication on strengthening the EU's contribution to a rules-based multilateralism, a renewed partnership with our Southern neighbourhood and a Communication on the Arctic. A new strategic approach to support disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants will also be presented.

Way of life: in the face of COVID-19, the Commission will propose to strengthen the role of existing agencies and establishing a new agency for biomedical advanced research and development. A new strategy for the future of Schengen will be tabled.

Democracy: the Commission will present new strategies on rights of the child and for persons with disabilities, as well as a proposal to combat gender-based violence. It will also propose to extend the list of euro-crimes to include all forms of hate crime and hate speech. The Commission will take action to protect journalists and civil society against abusive litigation.

2021 Commission work programme, annexes and factsheets

Adjusted 2020 Commission work programme

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