The Juncker Commission took office six months ago and now there has been enough time to examine its achievements, challenges and future intentions. The new Commission has set out to address the issues raised during the European Parliament elections and in doing so has opted for a jobs and growth agenda. While this is by no-means reflective of an end to austerity, there has been a clear realisation that something more is needed if the European project is to be returned to a track of growth and the anti-EU movement defeated.
Despite setting a clear agenda for its time in power, the new Executive has, like any other new government, been rapidly overtaken by a fast moving political scene and has experienced a few challenges along the way. Some of these and most notably the Luxleaks affair have resulted in personal attacks on the new Commission President and stimulated a rapid response. Likewise, the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean has led to much criticism of the failure of EU member states to find a solution.
The continuing economic and worsening social crisis in Europe has been the focus of much of the new Commission’s work and has stimulated the release of major policy packages, which are hoped to further investment, growth and jobs. In an effort to remove regulatory barriers that, the Commission claims, makes the life of SMEs and business more complicated, the REFIT agenda has also been driven forward, although this has not been without criticism.
However, it is not only policy that has seen changes as the very organisation of the new Commission with a set of guiding principles show a desire to change the way in which policy is made and has already posed new challenges for those seeking to influence Brussels policy making.
First Vice President Frans Timmermans has described the next five years as a last chance for Europe. The focus of the new Commission on jobs and growth indicate a realisation that the people of Europe will no longer accept the status quo. Whilst there have been some bumps along the way, the first six months of the new Commission show a desire to change paths.
In focusing on major policy announcements regarding increased investment and large infrastructure projects, the Commission may have successfully tracked a route to prosperity for the EU. That the ECB has now embarked on a policy of quantitative easing may feed into this process and it is possible that the EU may finally begin to turn itself around. However, implementation is as ever key and the EU may not get a second chance.
This article is an extract from a Dods Monitoring EU whitepaper.