On January 1, France took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, for a period of six months.
On January 1, France took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, thirteen years after its last presidency.
PFUE, instructions for use
On January 1, France took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, thirteen years after its last presidency. For six months. This institution, which brings together the ministers of the Member States by field of activity, is, along with the European Parliament, the co-legislator of the EU. It has grown in importance as the EU, initially focused on baptismal fonts by six member states, has grown. It now has 27.
The missions that France will have to fulfill during this semester mainly relate to mediation and the search for compromises to settle disputes and problems between Member States. Even if the country holding the rotating presidency can take the opportunity to push its advantage on issues to which it remains particularly attached.
France will also organize and chair the meetings of the Council of the EU by field of activity (agriculture, economic affairs, education, etc.), which will take place throughout the territory during this semester.
Top start on January 19, in Strasbourg
The President of the Republic will present the priorities for the first semester of 2022 to the MEPs meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on January 19, during the plenary session in January. A necessary step that marks each start of the presidency.
In the process, the first important meeting of the French presidency will be held this time in Brussels, for the summit of the leaders of the EU and the African Union.
Finally, on March 10 and 11, the summit of 27 heads of state and government will take place on the theme of the “new European model of growth and investment”.
In addition, many events are planned, throughout the territory, during the semester of this French presidency. Apart from the meetings already indicated in the text opposite, in Toulouse or Montpellier, informal ministerial meetings and ministerial conferences will take place everywhere in France, from Tourcoing to Marseille and from La Rochelle to Strasbourg.
What challenges, what priorities?
What texts, directives or regulations could be finalized on the occasion of this French presidency? What sensitive issues could be put on the agenda to move the Union forward beyond this presidency? The answers to these questions in six months will make it possible to take stock of this semester.
The regulation of the digital giants, an agreement in principle on a carbon tax at the borders, or the minimum wage, are indeed among the priority legislation that the French executive would like to help tie up with its 26 partners during the semester. The last especially: because without going so far as to evoke a hard-to-imagine European minimum wage, convincing States to increase their own minimum wage would make it possible to strengthen the image of a more social Europe.
And it would certainly not displease the Head of State to be more or less credited with this success. And succeeding in officially including the migration policy reform dossier on the European agenda would also be seen as a great success.
What impact for Emmanuel Macron?
This is the peculiarity of this French presidency of the Council of the European Union: it will be cut in the middle by a long election sequence: the presidential election first, which, barring a huge surprise, will therefore directly concern Emmanuel Macron, and the legislative in stride. A head of state candidate for his own succession of which it remains to be seen whether this PFUE will carry him, hinder him or have a neutral effect on his campaign.
The opinion of Hubert Védrine, former Minister of Foreign Affairs: “He has already had declarations, initiatives which put forward the PFUE. If he considered that as neutral, or negative, he would not talk about it. He therefore believes that this can be largely positive. But it is a Europe of 27, and what this presidency will give also depends on the others. “
The Hérault political scientist Michel Crespy considers, “that this French presidency will have no effect” on the voters: “People are not interested in it, it is far from their concerns. And then there is not in France, if not at the margin, a very pro or anti-European feeling “. Hence the interest “in bringing the French closer to the EU”, as LREM MEP Irène Tolleret noted during this PFUE.
Seen from Montpellier, Toulouse and Nîmes
The PFUE will go through Occitania. Montpellier and the Fabre museum will welcome, on March 6 and 7, 2022, the European Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Development, for a council dedicated to foreign affairs. The regional capital, Toulouse, will have already hosted, on February 16 and 17, the Copernicus conference, horizon 2035, which will have the status of a ministerial conference, in connection with a space forum involving the main European industrial and institutional players.
But it is in Nîmes where the expectation will be the strongest, where we hope for a decision, as Franck Proust, the president of Nîmes Métropole, said recently about the “project for a European center of expertise in Civil Security at Nîmes airport, a case submitted by the French State and six other countries. “