A new 5-year Strategic Agenda: What priorities for the EU?

May 30, 2024

The European Council’s Strategic Agenda, the key political agreement setting out the EU’s political direction for the next five years, will be adopted by the 27 heads of state and government on 27-28 June. But what will be in it?   

What is the Stategic Agenda?  

The European Council’s Strategic Agenda is a high-level statement setting out the four or five political priorities of national leaders for the EU after the European Parliament elections. As such, this very broad text is crucial as it will guide the European Commission, the European Parliament and the other EU institutions on how to deliver on these priorities. For example, the European Council’s Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024 includes a section on “building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe”, which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen translated into the European Green Deal in her priorities, stating: “I want Europe to strive for more by being the first climate-neutral continent.” 

Indeed, the Strategic Agenda strongly influences the Political Guidelines of the new President of the European Commission, a document that sets out the priority areas on which the Commission will focus and, in broad terms, the main policies and steps that the Commission intends to take to ensure that it achieves its new political objectives. However, it should be noted that while President Juncker derived his political agenda from the European Council’s Strategic Agenda, President von der Leyen prepared her work programme in cooperation with the political groups in the EP, rather than implementing the political will of the European Council. 

How is the Agenda 2024-2029 being developed? 

Negotiations in the European Council on the priorities for 2024-29 started several months ago. The informal summit in Granada in October 2023 was the first opportunity for national leaders to discuss their ideas for the future priorities of the Strategic Agenda. The summit concluded with the adoption of the Granada Declaration, which included a first set of ideas on defence, agriculture and competitiveness. At the time of writing, a recent leak of the draft Strategic Agenda shows that EU leaders are prioritising foreign policy, defence, industry, agriculture, competitiveness and migration. Unfortunately, there is very little in the text on social or climate-related issues. The Strategic Agenda will be discussed by the 27 heads of state and government of the EU countries when they meet informally in Brussels on 17 June and formally adopted at the European Council (EUCO) on 27-28 June.

SOLIDAR’s demands for the new Strategic Agenda  

SOLIDAR urges the European Council to prioritise a social and sustainable Europe. The “Building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe” section of the Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024 led to the groundbreaking European Green Deal and important progress on social issues such as the Platform Work Directive, the Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages, the Council Recommendation on adequate minimum income and the Social Economy Action Plan. However, the growing and interconnected crises we face, including the impact of climate change, geopolitical tensions and a worsening cost of living crisis, call for an even stronger response. 

More than ever, people across the continent are calling for a strong Social Europe. Recent Eurobarometer surveys show that 88% of Europeans consider a social Europe to be personally important and that the fight against poverty and social exclusion should be the main issue discussed during the European Parliament election campaign. SOLIDAR calls on the European Council to ensure that the next Strategic Agenda gives the EU a strong mandate to end growing inequalities in Europe and the rest of the world, to promote a rights and solidarity based response to migration, to ensure a digital revolution that guarantees freedom and equality, to promote education for all and with all, and to protect civic space and to guarantee civil dialogue.  

At the same time, Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world, with temperatures rising at about twice the global rate. The recent farmers’ protests across Europe have shown that climate action must be combined with equally ambitious and strong social policies to reduce poverty and ensure the well-being and good living conditions of all people in Europe and beyond. Therefore, SOLIDAR calls on the European Council to make a “just transition” to sustainable economies and societies in Europe and the rest of the world a key priority of the EU for the next 5 years.

An open letter on a fair green transition 

At the end of May, SOLIDAR joined more than 50 organisations in signing an open letter, drafted by CAN Europe, E3G and Corporate Leaders Group and addressed to EU Heads of State and Government, calling for a fair and green transition to be reinstated as a headline priority of the Strategic Agenda. In support of this, it also calls for increased funding at EU level, linked to strong eco-social conditionalities and international partnerships that not only advance the clean transition but also build social solidarity. Read the full letter below. 

Related posts