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France takes over EU presidency

Public Affairs
France takes over EU presidency

By Daniel Costa

Last week, Macron unveiled his vision for Europe with the announcement of the priorities for the 2022 French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (FPEU). As the EU is at a crossroads both economically and politically, this will be a key presidency that will define the strategic orientations of the EU as well as push for new social and economic growth in the coming years. Instinctif has developed a guide for the 2022 FPEU, see it here.

France will hold the FPEU for the first six months of 2022 (from January 1st until June 30th). It will be the first of a new trio of Presidencies with the Czech Republic and Sweden, and France’s first since 2008. With a founding country holding the presidency, and as expected, major pushes will be made to project the EU into the post-pandemic crisis by 2030.

Macron’s vision for Europe is accentuated in the motto of the FPEU: “Recovery, power, belonging”. And it will be structured under 3 main themes:

  • A sovereign Europe: In 2017, in the Sorbonne speech, the President of the French Republic put forward the notion of a “sovereignty agenda” to his European partners, meaning Europe’s ability to exist in the world to defend its values and interests. This will be a key priority of the FPEU. Among the key points announced there will be an aim for a reform of Schengen based on the model of the Eurozone; moving forward the European migration package; a push for a finalisation of the Strategic Compass; and further cooperation with Africa and the Balkans.
  • A new growth model: the French Presidency will help prepare the Europe of tomorrow. It will be laying the groundwork for far-reaching changes in Europe’s economic and social model. Among the proposals will be a new growth and investment model for the European Union and the euro area; the regulation of platforms through the finalisation of the DMA/DSA; the identification of European champions, particularly in the sectors of cybersecurity, AI, and the cloud; new legislation on minimum wages; and the development of European industrial sovereignty.
  • A more human Europe: France will want to renew the EU’s humanist mission by making it more effective and closer to its citizens. Among the proposals will be an expansion of the Erasmus programme; a creation of a Europe Academy that brings together some 100 academics from 27 countries in all subjects to enlighten European debate; as well as the definition of the future of the EU with the learning of the lessons of the Conference on the Future of Europe due to end in spring 2022.

Like other presidencies, this French one will see a plethora of events popping up in France and in Brussels under the FPEU label. Both official events and those led by sectoral ecosystems, including some twenty informal Council meetings and at least two European summits, will be taking place.

It must be noted that the pace of the FPEU is expected to decrease with the French campaign and elections. This election will be taking place in April 2022 (with the campaign officially starting on March 28th), and the renewal of the National Assembly will follow in its wake. This limited action margin will mean that France will have less than 3 months to make progress on its main files.

It is clear that Macron is using this presidency to boost his prospects for re-election and push his blueprint for a new French ascendancy in the bloc. Now the question is: can other countries dream as big as this French dream of Europe? We will have to see in the coming months. The bar has been set very high for the first half of 2022.

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