The main stages of the cycle are:
State of the Union address by the Commission President defines priorities and strategic objectives for the following year.
- Drafting of the Commission Work Programme for the year – on basis of a dialogue between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
- Other EU institutions and national parliaments also comment on the programme.
- Commission departments (directorates-general) 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.