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Strategic Planning and Programming

28 September 2009
by inadim -- last modified 29 September 2009

The European Commission’s work is planned and reported on in a new annual strategic planning and programming, and reporting cycle. The work programme sets out the concrete actions at the core of the Commission's political delivery - the strategic priorities. In addition, the Commission commits to develop a series of priority initiatives, to be adopted over the next 12 to 18 months depending on the depth and intensity of preparation needed to meet the quality standards of better regulation.


In practical terms, the EU Commission’s work is planned and reported on in a new annual strategic planning and programming, and reporting cycle.

  • The orientation debate held amongst the College of Commissioners initiates the strategic planning and programming cycle (SPP) and defines priorities and strategic objectives of the Commission for the following year. The Secretary-General informs the services of the conclusions of the College and services make proposals to convert College orientations into specific operations.
  • Based on the orientation debate and the subsequent proposals of the services, the Commission decides upon its annual policy strategy which sets out the political priorities for the year to come and orientations for the allocation of human and financial resources. The annual strategy provides the framework for the preliminary draft budget and for the Commission’s annual work programme.
  • Upon entering into office the Commission establishes its five-year strategic objectives which would mark its political project over the duration of its term of office.
  • The President of the Commission presents the annual policy strategy to the European Parliament and the Council. The three institutions then engage in a structured dialogue and each Commissioner has a discussion with the relevant Parliamentary committee. The result of this dialogue is a stock taking document which is used to prepare the Commission work programme for the following year. The Commission work programme translates policy strategy into a concrete action plan and a set of deliverables.
  • Each Commission department (directorate-general) then develops its annual management plan. These describe how departments plan their activities and how they contribute to the priorities set by the Commission, including the allocation of human and financial resources to the activities. Since the introduction of activity-based management, these plans have to set clear, specific, measurable and verifiable objectives for each activity as well as indicators for the monitoring and reporting on the progress made and the impact of the activities to the EU citizens.
  • At an operational, day-to-day level, the Commission has also introduced an 'agenda planning' system in order to provide reliable programming of initiatives foreseen for adoption. A list of planned Commission initiatives is updated every month and sent to other EU institutions in order to help them organise their own activities. It is accompanied by a list of adopted Commission initiatives.
  • A new procedure to assess the impact of a given initiative in the economic, environmental and social area was adopted in 2002. The Commission services prepare an impact assessment of all major work programme initiatives. Impact assessment is an aid to political decision, not a substitute for it. It informs decision-makers of the likely impacts of proposals, but it leaves it up to them to take the decisions.
  • Once the budgetary year is ending, all directorates-general have to report on the degree of achievement of the objectives that were set in their annual management plans. They establish an annual activity report. The Commission collects the main conclusions of the different annual activities reports in a synthesis report which is presented to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Source: European Commission