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How priorities are set

The European Commission plans and reports on its work in a yearly cycle known as the strategic planning and programming cycle. The Commission's main priorities are set out by the Commission President every 5 years.

Overall political strategy

The EU’s overall political strategy is developed jointly by its institutions: the European Parliament, European Council, Council of the European Union, and European Commission.

In particular, the European Council (the leaders from all EU countries) provides orientations and general political priorities.

The President of the Commission also determines the political priorities for its mandate. Every 5 years, at the beginning of a new Commission term, the President of the Commission sets out the priority areas to be focused on during that term. These areas are derived from the Council's strategic agenda and from discussions with the political groups of the European Parliament.

Priorities for 2019 – 2024

The Commission's priorities for the period 2019-24 are set out in the President's political guidelines. 

6 Commission priorities for 2019-2024

State of the Union address

Every year, the President of the Commission comes to the European Parliament to present the achievements of the Commission during the previous year and the forthcoming priorities or initiatives for the year to come in the speech on the State of the Union.

State of the union addresses

How strategy is carried out

The Commission's yearly action plan

Based on the declaration of the President of the Commission in front of the European Parliament, a plan of action for the next 12 months is set out in the Commission work programme. It describes how the political priorities will be turned into concrete actions.

Other EU institutions and national parliaments also comment on the programme.

Read the Commission work programme

Planning and reporting by departments

Commission departments produce strategic and management plans showing how they will contribute to the Commission's priorities and setting clear objectives and indicators for monitoring and reporting.

For all major legislative and policy defining initiatives, Commission departments prepare an impact assessment to analyse the likely economic, environmental and social effects of the proposals.

A list of planned Commission initiatives and a list of adopted Commission initiatives is updated regularly and sent to other EU institutions to help them organise their own activities.

At the end of the budget year, all departments produce an annual activity report on their performance in achieving their objectives.

These reports are collated in a synthesis report communicated to the European Parliament and the Council. As of 2016, the synthesis report is included in the annual management and performance report for the EU budget.