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Debate on the state of the Union and the Commission Work Programme

(last update: 01.12.2023)

In 2010 the European Commission introduced a new programming cycle, initiated by the Political Guidelines (point 4) and set out in the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission (point 5).

Annual Commission Work Programme remained a basic programming document, nevertheless, since 2010, it contains also elements of Annual Policy Strategies. It points among others areas where policy initiatives need to be developed to realise the long-term policy strategies required to carry out the EU's goals.

Moreover, since 2010, the Commission’s President in the first part-session of September delivers a State of the Union address in the EP, setting main priorities and strategic goals for the following year. In parallel he sets out in writing to Parliament the main elements guiding the Commission Work Programme for the following year.

State of play on given initiatives within individual EC priorities may be followed-up on Legislative Train Schedule created by the EP in October 2016 (points 7 and 8).

On 13 April 2016 the EC, the EP and the Council signed an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making (point 2), where among others principles of multiannual and annual programming were specified. The Agreement stipulates that:

  • in the EC work programme – apart from the most significant new legal acts – repeals, recasts, simplifications and withdrawals will be included,
  • the Commission will engage in a dialogue with the EP and the Council, both before and after the adoption of its annual Work Programme, based on the rules specified in point 6 of the Agreement.

It shall be underlined that following the adoption of the Commission Work Programme and drawing on it, the three institutions agree on a joint declaration on annual interinstitutional programming setting out broad objectives and priorities for the following year and items of major political importance which should receive priority treatment in the legislative process. The first joint declaration was signed on 13 December 2016. Moreover in 2020 the EP, teh Councila and the EC adopted for the first time Joint Conclusions on policy objectives and priorities for an entire legislative cycle.

Moreover the Commission should provide regular updates on its planning throughout the year and give reasons for any delay. The Commission is supposed to regularly report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of its Work Programme.



  1. Ursula von der Leyen, A Union that strives for more. My agenda for Europe , 15.07.2014
  2. Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making, 13.04.2016, OJ 2016 L 123, p. 1.
  3. Council practical arrangements on annual programming. Timeline and steps, 6879/16, 11.03.2016.
  4. Strategy documentsEC website
  5. Legislative Train Schedule – EP website
  6. EP Legislative Train Schedule – Legislacyjny rozkład jazdy PE [PL] – OIDE Note


Debate on the state of the Union and Commission Work Programme (2011-2019)

EC Programming Documents (until 2010)