As the EU continues to deal with the impact of the pandemic, while delivering on priorities such as fighting climate change, here’s what to look out for in 2021.
Recovery plan and the EU’s long-term budget
Late last year, the Parliament reached a compromise with the Council on the EU’s budget for 2021-2027 and secured a deal on the budget for 2021 to support recovery. However, disagreements among member states over the mechanism devised to protect EU’s values slowed down the approval procedure.
MEPs will have to finalise the rules on the functioning of all programmes that are part of the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and the recovery plan, which will support people and businesses across the EU.
At the heart of the EU’s Covid-19 recovery plans, the Greel Deal will lead to the dvelopment of many initiatives to promote sustainability this year. Agriculture, the circular economy, biodiversity, forests, energy, emissions and the Emissions Trading System are among the topics MEPs will be working on.
Making the EU’s 2050 climate-neutrality goal legally binding remains one of Parliament’s priorities, as the EU concludes negotiations on the Climate law. Parliament is advocating a 60% emission reduction target by 2030.
2021 will be the year of regulating online platforms. At the end of 2020 the Commission proposed the Digital Services Act to set guidelines for the changing online landscape and ensure a better, safer digital environment for users and companies. Parliament outlined its priorities for the legislation in October 2020 ahead of the European Commission’s proposal.
In early 2021, the Commission will propose new artificial intelligence legislation aimed at dealing with the technological, ethical, legal and socio-economic aspects of AI and ensuring Europe is at the forefront of developments. Parliament wants to make sure legislation helps boost the economy, while considering the impact on people.
The European Parliament will examine legislation seeking to create a common EU asylum and migration policy. The new measures, proposed by the Commission, aim to change and improve current asylum procedures by ensuring shared responsibility and solidarity among member states, while protecting the EU’s external borders.
Conference on the Future of Europe
The Conference on the Future of Europe is a new initiative looking at what changes could be introduced to better prepare the EU for the future, with direct involvement from citizens. The Covid-19 crisis delayed the initiative’s kick-off: however, the two-year, ongoing consultation process should begin in earnest in 2021.
The Parliament, Commission and Council sare expected to conclude negotiations on reforms to the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy for the period 2022-2027, including alignment with the European Green Deal and environmental objectives. The new Farm to Fork policy, which seeks to look at food more broadly, will also be scrutinised by MEPs.
The new year will see the launch of the EU4Health programme, which aims to help EU countries to better cooperate and coordinate in times of crisis. The priorities are protecting people from serious cross-border health threats, improving the availability of medicines and creating stronger health systems. MEPs will vote in early 2021 on a provisional deal with the Council on the rules for the programme.
EU support for emergencies
Parliament wants to revamp the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to improve the Union’s crisis management and increase preparedness for large-scale emergencies such as Covid-19 and natural disasters. MEPs want to enable the EU to acquire emergency capacities autonomously and advocate more prevention. Parliament will negotiate with the Council on the upgraded system that should become operational in 2021.
This year should see the adoption of the EU space programme for 2021-2027, including expanding the scope of the current European GNSS Agency (GSA), renaming it the European Union Agency for the Space Programme.
The first day of the new year marked the official end of the transition period between the UK and EU, ushering in the start of a complex relationship between them. The Parliament will be involved in forging new ties with the UK, including the conclusion of ad hoc agreements in key fields such as aviation.