Macron presents the priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU – EURACTIV.com
French President Emmanuel Macron gave on Thursday, December 9 an overview of the priorities that France wishes to pursue when it takes the presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2022. Reform the Schengen area without borders, pursue more European defense and a new The European model was one of the priorities he underlined. EURACTIV France reports.
From January 1, the French presidency of the EU will take place in the midst of a “health and climate crisis”, “growing global inequalities” but also in the face of “rising tensions” on the eastern border of the EU, a Macron said in his opening. Remarks.
The French presidency of the Council of the EU will also coincide with the French elections, scheduled for April 10 and 24, and for which Macron will most likely be a candidate.
Asked about the risk of taking advantage of the presidency of the Council of the EU to promote his national campaign, Macron said that Paris “had not chosen the timetable” and that it was “the fruit of the implementation of Brexit “. “We must play our role with a spirit of responsibility,” he added.
The first objective of the French presidency will be to “move from a Europe of cooperation within our borders to a powerful Europe in the world, fully sovereign, free of its choices and master of its destiny”, also indicated The head of state. noted.
In his speech, Macron said he wanted to have better “control” of Europe’s borders, which he said was an “essential condition” for meeting the challenge of migration, facing up to “hybrid” wars and avoiding “tragedies”. humans ”. In this vein, he called for a reform of the Schengen borderless area on the model of the euro zone, with the establishment of a political steering committee and regular meetings between ministers.
France will also defend the creation of an “emergency border support mechanism” in cooperation with the EU’s border agency, Frontex, which would allow the rapid deployment of law enforcement and border equipment. if needed.
“The reactions come too late. The mechanisms are set up too precisely, ”added the French leader.
The president also said he was keen to “advance the European migration package” by continuing to work with the countries of origin and transit, but also by harmonizing the rules for supporting migrants and those governing secondary flows.
Macron’s foreign policy ambitions mainly concern the defense of Europe.
He recalled “considerable progress” in this area, citing in particular the launch of a European Defense Fund in 2017. From now on, this must “enter a more operational phase” and make the presidency of the Council of ‘EU a “moment to define the Strategic Compass”.
Africa and Western Balkans
France should also take “structural initiatives” towards Africa and the Western Balkans, continued the French president.
“The link between [Africa and Europe] is the great political and geopolitical project of the decades to come, ”said Macron, showing his willingness to launch a new economic and financial New Deal with the continent.
On the Western Balkans, Macron insisted on the “very particular responsibility” towards these countries in terms of the protection of minorities and the fight against interference. He also said he wanted to “clarify their European perspectives”.
A new European model
More broadly, Macron called for “imagining a new European model” – an ambition that should be at the heart of the EU Council Presidency summit due to take place in March.
According to the French president, job creation and the fight against mass unemployment should be an “obsession” for the EU. It is also about creating “the right jobs”, he added.
EU directives on minimum wages and pay transparency – whose ultimate goals are to end the gender pay gap – will thus be at the heart of the French presidency.
Macron also called for an industrial revival in key sectors such as hydrogen, batteries, semiconductors, cloud, defense, health and culture.
“We must guarantee Europe’s position and its strength in defining the standards of tomorrow,” Macron said. “The action at the state level is not on the right scale”, he also declared, adding that France will seek to “promote European purchases”, he added.
Macron also announced that several European investment plans and new industrial alliances will be launched by March.
According to the president, this new model will also require adapted budgetary and financial rules. He called for the completion of a credible, simplified and transparent framework, and in particular a union of banking and capital in Europe.
If the fight against climate change is not among the priorities of the French presidency, the new European growth model that Macron intends to promote fully integrates environmental ambitions.
To meet the EU’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, Macron said the presidency “would not waste a minute” in pushing forward the texts.
The French leader also promised that the carbon adjustment mechanism would be adopted in the coming months in order to “preserve our competitiveness”.
The so-called “mirror clauses” which will ensure “coherence” between trade policy and climate and biodiversity preservation policy, as well as a European instrument to combat imported deforestation, will also see the light of day, he added. .
On the digital front, France hopes to see the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) completed.
“When we know how to organize, we create standards on an international scale,” said the French president with reference to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Head of State also reaffirmed his desire to bring out increasingly strong players while supporting innovation and growth – a strategy “which has shown its effectiveness”, he declared.
Macron called on the bloc – which already has “technological dependencies” – to “act like Europeans” so that it can catch up with its competitors. Paying special attention to talent and building an “integrated digital market” to attract funding and help tech companies so they don’t have to look elsewhere for money will also be essential, he added. .
A more “human” Europe
In his speech, Macron said he wanted to take advantage of the presidency to renew the “humanist vocation” of the EU by making it “more efficient” and “closer to our fellow citizens”.
The Conference on the future of Europe which ends in May should, according to him, mark the “beginning of this re-founding dynamic”.
The French Head of State also expressed his desire to find “new instruments to bring our democratic freedom to life” and to work a lot on the history of Europe in the light of the “revisionism” which is taking hold in some. parts of Europe.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]