France took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January. Learn more about French MEPs’ expectations for the next six months, EU affairs.
On Wednesday 19 January, French President Emmanuel Macron discussed with MEPs the Council presidency’s political strategy and priorities. Follow the debate.
The country says it will be working for a stronger and more sovereign Europe. It will also strive to convince Europeans that a common response is the best one to address the challenges that we are facing.
Some of the priorities announced by France for its presidency are:
We asked French MEPs what they expect from their country’s presidency. Here are their answers:
François-Xavier Bellamy (EPP) said that given the presidential elections in France in the spring, it would have been necessary that the government ask for the French presidency to be moved back. “In any case, the French presidency should not be a communication exercise, but the realization of two or three clearly defined priorities to achieve a single objective: the reduction of our vulnerabilities,” he said. According to him, the presidency should focus on three concrete plans: “our energy supply, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and the reform of European migration policy”.
The French presidency should be driven in its work by the need for social and climate justice, said Sylvie Guillaume speaking for the Group of Socialists and Democrats. More specifically, she expects France to bring forward the Fit for 55 legislative climate action package at the Council and that an interinstitutional agreement could be reached on the European directive on minimum wage. About the Conference on the Future of Europe, another priority of the French presidency, Guillaume wishes that “its conclusions will be given real substance, ‘without filter’ and even if this means that treaties have to be modified”.
For Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (Renew), one of the first priorities of the French presidency will be to ensure an innovative, socially fair and economically responsible recovery. Vedrenne also believes that this presidency should be an opportunity to work for a united Europe that does not compromise on values. “We must strengthen a Europe that protects, that defends its vision of the world and that strengthens the feeling of belonging,” she said.
On behalf of the Greens/EFA, David Cormand and Michèle Rivasi said: “We have a duty to get the European Union back on track on rule of law in order to defend and protect the fundamental rights of all.” They also said the climate crisis and the protection of the environment should be priorities for the EU and the French presidency. “In view of the ecological, social and democratic crises, France will have to strengthen again Europe’s ambitions and find solutions to end the blockages which too often paralyse the EU.”
Jordan Bardella (ID) expects the French presidency to reform Schengen by reserving free movement to European nationals only. For him, the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorists that were able to enter the EU and to cross borders inside Schengen show how weak this free movement system is. The French presidency “should be the occasion to finally bring about the courageous reforms that the French and all the peoples of Europe are waiting for,” said Bardella.
Manon Aubry (The Left) said: “The French presidency should be entirely focused on the two most urgent priorities of our time: the climate crisis and the rise of inequalities.” She said France should “push and defend a more ambitious Green Deal, fight for a real European minimum wage and push for the total transformation of the current economic governance framework by putting an end to all competition and austerity”. Aubry added that corporate responsibility is an essential topic where progress should be made during the presidency.
France takes over the rotating presidency of the Council from Slovenia and is holding it for the 13th time. The next country in line is the Czech Republic starting from 1 July 2022.
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