The Commission’s 2021 work programme: from strategy to delivery

Farm to Fork Strategy


Powered by an energetic new cabinet, the Commission’s 2020 agenda has been packed with game-changing strategies and proposals – the European Green Deal, the new Climate Law, the Farm to Fork Strategy to name but a few. 2021 will be the year to deliver on the promises, and so we give you a sneak peek on what to expect in 2021 on energy, transport and environment policy.

Although the adoption of an annual work programme is a routine task, the forthcoming programme fundamentally differs from previous programmes: for the first time in the EU’s history, the Commission will put its efforts on saving the lives and livelihoods of those affected by a global pandemic. But at the same time, foresight and prevention are engrained in the Commission’s institutional DNA, and so it would be wrong to assume that the pandemic will cloud the EU’s green ambitions for 2021. Quite on the contrary – it seems like the institutions are more ambitious than ever to deliver a “green recovery”.

Amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) to implement the ambition of the new 2030 climate target

The current energy framework only foresees a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions and is therefore not fit to meet the new 2030 objective. With a strict 55% emission reduction target on the horizon, the Commission requires Member States to make additional efforts to decarbonise the energy market, for instance by speeding up the expansion of renewables. Expect a recast of REDII by June 2021 – and expect it to be exciting! Delivering on the renewable energy target is a national competence, and so major differences in the share of renewables among the Member States are likely to make the negotiations tough.

Development of post-Euro 6/VI emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses

Transitioning to low-emission mobility is critical to hitting the emission reduction target. Yet, the sector’s emissions are anything but decreasing and so the Commission is pressurized to step up its ambitions. The future post Euro-6/VI regulations provide the Commission with – perhaps the last – opportunity to eradicate pollution from road transport. And so, by Q4 2021, the Commission will present what many hope to be the final EU emission standards to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. ACEA and Co. will be all over this.

Sustainable products policy initiative, including a revision of the Ecodesign Directive

Up to 80% of a products environmental footprint is determined at the design stage, and so by December 2021, the Commission will present a sustainable products policy initiative to streamline design for circularity. Expect a lot of benchmarking and standard-setting going on behind the scenes, as the Commission’s policy makers need to come up with definitions and methodologies to assess what accounts for “sustainable design”. Companies, especially in resource-intensive sectors such as electronics and plastics, will try to have their say on the new Ecodesign measures, wishing to influence the new methodologies in their favour. These policy sneak peeks demonstrate that 2021 will be the year of delivery.

In the following weeks, the Commission will liaise with the European Parliament and the Member States in the Council to develop a list of joint priorities on which swift action will be taken.

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November 2nd, 2020 by Careen Becker