According to the European Commission Work Programme 2016 entitled 'No time for business as usual', this year the European Union is facing new challenges to which the Commission wants to respond in an ambitious and fruitful way. 

Below you will find a list of initiatives included in the Work Programme 2016 that may have an impact on the operations of your clients. Indeed, many of the new proposals and plans for 2016 are likely to influence business activities of not only companies based within the European Union, but also at a global level. 

Our team in Brussels is in an excellent position to further brief clients on the scope of the EU legislative initiatives, as well as to present the clients' views and positions to policy makers and stakeholders. 

The announced initiatives will bring changes to national and European legislation in various fields and therefore will affect companies in all EU Members States as well as non-European companies doing business in the EU. 

We have selected the main policy initiatives which may have an impact on DLA Piper's clients businesses.

A new boost for jobs, growth and investment 

One of the Commission's top priority is to boost growth and jobs. In this regard, the Commission is committed to help European companies to make the most of the opportunities of the Single Market, to grow and compete on a global scale. In order to do this, the Commission will focus on improving the investment environment and deepening the Single Market. 

Concretely, the Commission will: 

  • Boost the European Economy fostering the implementation of the €315 billion Investment Plan, including the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), and 
  • Implement the Action Plan on the Circular Economy, creating new opportunities for innovative companies and environmentally efficient businesses. 

A connected digital single market 

The Digital Single Market is considered a key element of the 10 priorities of Junker's five-year term. The Commission aims to present all relevant proposals in this area before the end of 2016 in order to achieve a fully functional Digital Single Market which is expected to generate up to €250 billion of additional growth in Europe. 

In particular, the proposals in this area will focus on: 

  • New initiatives on copyright, geo-blocking, free flow of data, the cloud and VAT, with a view to boosting the e-commerce sector
  • Reviewing in a comprehensive way the telecoms regulatory framework, and 
  • Modifying EU legislations on audio-visual and media services, on satellite and cable and on consumer protection cooperation. 

Resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy 

The Commission's Energy Union Strategy aims to secure Europe's energy supply and reduce import dependency by integrating national energy markets, moving to a de-carbonized economy, promoting energy efficiency and boosting research, innovation and competitiveness. In 2016, the Commission aims to move up most of the items foreseen in the Energy Union roadmap. 

The proposals in this area will focus on: 

  • Proposing new initiatives for sectors outside the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), such as buildings, agriculture and the de-carbonization of transport
  • Promoting the use of non-discriminatory road charging schemes based on the polluter-pays and user-pays principles
  • Creating a single European transport area in order to allow a more efficient use of the existing road infrastructure and a more flexible use of fleet capacity
  • Boosting initiatives on new energy market design, on reaching 15% electricity interconnection, on energy security supply and efficiency, and 
  • Developing an integrated strategy for the Energy Union research, innovation and competitiveness. 

A deeper and fairer internal market 

The European Commission is committed to boost the opportunities for companies generated by the Single Market by fostering the Internal Market's full potential and adapting it to the changing economic conditions. The Commission wants the European market to become a launch pad for companies and industry to thrive in the global economy. 

The proposals in this area will focus on: 

  • Promoting concrete measures in order to help start-ups to grow by releasing the potential of the new business models emerging form the collaborative economy
  • Facilitating access to finance by SMEs and start-ups and addressing regulatory obstacles to their growth
  • Adopting new initiatives on preventive restructuring procedures and on giving a second chance to entrepreneurs after bankruptcy
  • Adopting a new strategy for unleashing the full benefit of European space Programmes such as Galileo and Copernicus
  • Adopting an action plan on the defence market and delivering a follow-up to the aviation strategy
  • Presenting an action plan on VAT with further steps towards an efficient and fraud-proof definitive regime and initiatives on VAT rates and e-commerce in the context of the Digital Single Market
  • Presenting new measures to enhance transparency of the corporate tax system and fight tax avoidance. In this field, the Commission aims to make further progress towards a fair, efficient and growth-friendly corporate taxation. 

A deeper and fairer economic and monetary union 

The Commission intends to step forward towards a more resilient and prosperous Economic and Monetary Union by improving the democratic accountability of our economic governance system and enhancing the representation of the euro area within international organizations (notably the IMF). 

The proposals in this area will focus on: 

  • Promoting convergence in the economic and fiscal situation in the euro area by removing national barriers to investment, and 
  • Developing a European Pillar of social rights, addressing the gaps in existing social policy legislation and identifying social benchmarks built on best practices in the Member States with a view to upwards convergence of the labour market, skills and social protection. 

Trade: A reasonable and balanced free trade agreement with the US 

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) with the US remains a top priority for 2016. The European Commission believes that international trade and investment are key drivers for the European economic recovery. 

The proposal in this area will focus on: 

  • Negotiating a fair and balanced trade agreement between the EU and US with a new approach to investment protection. 

Other trade agreements: 

  • Stepping up cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region, in particular with Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and Indonesia
  • Implementing the application of new agreements and modernization of existing agreement in light of new economic realities, including with countries like Turkey, Mexico and Chile
  • Enforcing the new Trade and Investment Strategy in order to ensure that the opportunities created by trade agreements deliver real results, while paying particular attention to SMEs and helping workers adapt to change.