On 25 October the European Commission presented its 2017 work programme ‘Delivering a Europe that protects, empowers and defends.’ In line with the philosophy underpinning previous work programmes the EU Commission is focusing its efforts (21 initiatives) on delivering the 10 priorities outlined in the Political Guidelines that were set out at the beginning of the mandate. 2017 will be the year the still to be defined European Pillar of Social Rights is established, and the year that sees new regulations on issues including work life balance and interpretative guidance on the implementing the Working Time Directive.

Basic Social Pillar. The document includes the affirmation that “The Commission is committed to promoting social upwards convergence and strengthening the social dimension of European integration.” “Drawing on the evidence gathered by this year’s public consultation, we will propose a European Pillar of Social Rights setting out principles for a Union built on social fairness,” which will set out “a framework of principles to foster a fair playing field in a European social market economy.” The principles “will offer a policy compass for fair and dynamic labour markets, in which everyone has a chance to put their talent to use, and for well-functioning and sustainable welfare systems which reflect today’s fast-changing realities.”

The EU Commission also announced ‘related initiatives’ that would address “challenges of work-life balance faced by working families”, the deadline for which is Q1 2017. Both legislative and non-legislative initiatives are intended to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families as well as others treating access to social protection. A non-legislative initiative is proposed for implementing the Working Time Directive and here the EU Commission mentions an interpretative guidance document on current provisions catering to new forms of working organization. In addition the Member States will publish an implementation report. Within the EU Commission’s REFIT framework, Directive 91/533 (the Written Statement Directive) establishing the employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship will be revised.

Information and Consultation. Within the context of streamlining EU legislation, i.e. the REFIT programme, the Executive announced it would focus on Directive 2003/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 July 2003 on the initial qualification and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles for the carriage of goods or passengers. As regards EU Directives on information and consultation (Directives 98/59 on collective redundancies, 2001/23 on transfers of undertakings, and 2002/14 on a general framework relating to information and consultation of workers), which underwent efficacy assessments in 2014, the EU Commission repeated its belief that they need to be consolidated and that it is currently analyzing the economic impact of such a reform.