Presenting the Commission’s priorites for 2007, Secretary-General Catherine Day said that the EU must focus on meeting the challenges of globalisation to avoid an anti-EU backlash from citizens.
Speaking on 27 February 2007, Catherine Day said that the EU must act positively to the opportunities presented by globalisation, in order to reassure citizens that Europe’s future was being shaped as they would wish it to be.
The priorities identified by Day include:
- Creating a ‘knowledge society’ and ensuring ongoing growth by means of the Lisbon Strategy, which she said had been working “so well that it was not necessary to discuss it as part of the agenda per se at the Spring Council”;
- ensuring that the EU keeps ‘its edge’ in climate-change measures and sustainable growth;
- tackling the intertwined problems of demography and migration, and;
- continuing to focus on the 10 May 2007 twin-track approach by which greater efforts are being made to convince citizens of the EU’s relevance, so that member states will have the confidence to make much-needed institutional changes.
As regards external challenges, the secretary-general pointed to:
- The Commission’s support for a Doha agreement;
- the need to consider Kyoto post-2012 and focus, in the coming years, on “adaptation to the problems caused by climate change”, and;
- finally, on Kosovo, Day said that the Commission saw the Balkan countries as prospective members and that this goal needs to be made clear to the region.
Internally, she said that the Commission was changing the way it was working as regards better regulation, and the use of impact assessments was a culture now “well embedded in the Commission”, but which needed to be spread to the Parliament and Council.
Day added that she wanted to “scotch the myth that the Commission is not legislating”, emphasising that although the EU executive was not introducing as much harmonising legislation as in the past, it was now legislating in new areas since vast amounts of harmonising legislation had already been introduced over the past decade or more.
Finally, answering a question on whether the Commission had become weaker, Day responded that “confidence had been knocked by the ‘No’ votes and the Commission needed to take the message seriously that it need to propose policies that people can relate to”. However, she added that the “Commission is stronger in the 27 member state union because it is difficult to find consensus with 27 members and the Commission is the institution always looking for consensus”.