Emmanuel Macron presents, Thursday, December 9, his priorities for the French presidency of the Council of the European Union which, starting on the 1er January, comes to hit head-on with the campaign for the presidential election in France. During a press conference at 4 p.m. at the Elysee Palace, the head of state planned to focus on Europe. But journalists should take this rare opportunity to question him on political issues, and in particular on his unconfirmed candidacy for the presidential election in April 2022.
“The campaign will come on time,” however, continues to hammer Gabriel Attal, the government spokesman, defending a head of state “at work” until the end of the five-year term. Before answering the questions, Emmanuel Macron will explain why he attaches so much importance to this rotating biannual presidency of the 27, the 13e exercised by France since the 1950s and the first since 2008.
Since his election in 2017, celebrated to the sound of the EU anthem, the president has posed as the leader of pro-Europeans against “nationalists” and “populists”, and praises the advances obtained at 27, such as the plan to post-Covid 19 recovery of 750 billion euros adopted in 2020. “It is the identity of Emmanuel Macron that no one, on the right or on the left, can challenge him, and that he will carry until the elections », Says a member of his entourage.
The Head of State announced on Monday that the priorities of the French presidency, known as the PFUE, revolved around three axes: “revival, power and belonging”. Economic recovery is “necessary” in “response to the crisis” of Covid-19, he detailed, before defending the need to strengthen the power of the EU by making it more autonomous, in particular militarily. For him, “European sovereignty strengthens the sovereignty of France”, which is better equipped to defend its interests in the world with its 26 partners than on its own. He regrets, however, that the “feeling of belonging” of the French to the EU has “withered” in recent years.
The question of Europe, a concern of the French
In front of the press, he should detail his ideas for reforming the Schengen agreements, advancing the “climate package” with carbon taxation, better regulating the digital giants, harmonizing the minimum wage, and rebuilding “a treaty of friendship with the ‘Africa’. For this, dozens of meetings are planned, mainly over the first three months because of the presidential election. They will begin with a speech followed by a debate in the European Parliament on January 19.
France’s room for maneuver will be limited, however, because if the rotating presidency gives momentum to certain priorities, it then remains to build consensus among the 27, which is never easy. As a result, the PFUE “may require a lot of energy” from Emmanuel Macron at a time when he will already have to manage national affairs while campaigning, warns a majority official.
“I hope that the French presidency is not going to be a moment of communication of three months”, warned, Tuesday, the president LR of the European Affairs committee of the Senate Jean-François Rapin. According to an Odoxa survey for Le Figaro, the French are twice as numerous (32% against 15%) to consider that presiding the EU will be an asset rather than a handicap for Emmanuel Macron and 63% assure that the proposals of the candidates on Europe will count in their choice to vote.
A busy schedule with European representatives
The environmental candidate Yannick Jadot regretted Wednesday “that France did not choose to change the date of its presidency […] biased and cut in two by the presidential election ”. On the far right, Eric Zemmour asks Emmanuel Macron to “impose the principle of non-admission of migrants into the European Union”. The Head of State’s European agenda will be busy until Christmas with the reception of the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who will make his first international trip to Paris on Friday.
On Monday, he will travel to Hungary to meet sovereignist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, before the European summit on December 16 and 17. In the meantime, Emmanuel Macron has prepared his press conference by exchanging with the two heads of the EU: the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Monday, before a lunch Thursday at the Elysee Palace with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.