CLEPA Newsletter Editorial September 2018: Making shipshape before the European elections
The European Commission’s ‘state of the union 2018’ presented last week by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made a point of celebrating achievements but signalled loudly as well that the work is far from over. Not for Europe—one only needs to nudge at issues such as refugees and economic migrants, illiberal democracy, or shifts in the geopolitical order—nor for the current Commission and European Parliament: policy that doesn’t make it through the institutions before the May 2019 European elections risks running severe delays at best.
First, some of the good news. Juncker underlined that Europe’s economy has now grown for 21 consecutive quarters. Almost 12 million new jobs have been created since 2014 and unemployment is at low levels, albeit with discrepancies among members states and youth unemployment still problematic in several countries.
The Commission has accomplished seven trade agreements with twelve countries including Canada, Ukraine and several African nations, bringing the overall number to 39, with 69 partners across the globe covering 40% of the world’s GDP. Every €1 billion in exports supports 14,000 jobs across the EU. Attempts to launch a new phase in the EU–US trade relationship were made as well. Juncker reaffirmed the importance of fair, rules-based trade for the EU going forward.
Modernising Europe’s transport system has been another area of focus. Stricter car emissions tests have been mandatory since September 2017. A fundamental overhaul of the type approval framework will be applicable from September 2019. Connected and automated driving has become a fixed feature in new policy.
Of the 89 proposals the Commission had made until June this year—hitting its own target—43 have also effectively been agreed by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council. From the proposals still on the table, eighteen are, so the Commission, well on track to be agreed by May 2019.
But then a warning sounds: the remaining 28 proposals “can still be agreed if there is strong political will”. The automotive supply industry is indeed affected by a number of major dossiers on this list. One is the package on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, which will be top-priority for Union leaders as well. Of particular importance here is the proposed allocation of €98 billion to the future EU research programmes under the new MMF.
Another proposal on the list of 28 is the long-awaited revision of the General Safety Regulation. The Commission has proposed new mandatory safety features such as advanced emergency braking for cars as well as blind spot and vulnerable road user detection systems for trucks. About 25,000 lives can be saved in the 16 years following the implementation of the package . However, Parliament and Council have not yet even agreed their calendar of deliberations, which is worrisome.
Much in the limelight then again are the Commission’s proposals to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, vans and trucks covering the 2020-2030 era, on which Parliament and Council aim to take position in October (see more). And there is of course Brexit, uncertainty on the outcome of which is a cause of real concern among CLEPA members.
Legislative files which are not adopted way ahead of the 2019 elections risk falling dormant until the European Parliament resumes business, a new president of the Commission is confirmed, and the new Commissioners are approved for their portfolios. This will last until winter 2019. Furthermore, the Parliament will have to decide whether or not to resume negotiations where they were left or confirm that its position is still supported by a majority of MEPs. In all, this can lead to a delay of almost a year for the files in question.
By the time of the Sibiu Summit under Romanian EU Presidency in May next year, just ahead of the elections to the European Parliament, the Commission wants show to Europe’s citizens and the world that the Union is able to deliver on a positive agenda for the EU of, soon, 27. The automotive suppliers, too, work with a positive agenda of innovation, transformation and continuous change, in support of green mobility, an inclusive society and a competitive Europe. The remaining months of the Juncker-era promise to be dense and hectic.
Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General
In: CLEPA News