After 13 years, France Again took over rotating presidency of the EU since January 1, 2022, for six months. During the 6 months of presidency, France wants to define priorities. Presidency of this turn around is important for Macron because there is little time left to the French presidential elections on April 22,2022.
To pave the way for its presidency over the EU, France held a conference on 15-17 October of 2022 in Paris. 14 changes were outlined for Europe at the conference. 14 changes that are summarized in 6 paragraphs:
1) Efforts to cut down energy consumption and ramp up production of renewable energies,
2) Achieving political and security independence to stop taking assistance from foreign powers,
3) Strengthening industrial policy,
4) Support for Environmental policies,
5) Strengthening the EU in human rights matters,
6) Focusing on better communication for EU to play a bigger role.
Thus along this path, France has focused during its 6 month long presidency on three general pivots:1) Enforcing the enactments, 2) Power, 3) Membership.
In his speech for the 2022 new year, Mr.Macron hinted in a sentence: “the goal of European countries must shift from internal cooperation to global cooperation and converting Europe to a world power. Our goal (Europe) is reaching an independent, strong and purposed Europe.” In his speech in the Sorbonne University he also uttered a key sentence, that is the Europe was their commitment and identity. Accordingly, the French president has stressed and continues to stress the subject of “Joint European Defense” since the beginning of his presidency.
1) About the first priority “Enforcing the enactments” it has been decided that France implement the plan to inject 750 billion euros enacted by 27 member states of the EU last year1. Allocation of 750 billion euros was discussed since when corona broke out and was opposed by countries like the Netherlands, because heads of countries like the Netherlands believed in case the plan of financial assistance to the EU member states continued, these countries would get addicted to these grants. However, as a result of Germany and France efforts the plan was eventually approved.
About the Power Pivot: France intends to focus the EU’s attention on military and technological plans. Attention to the Environment must be added. Also within the Power framework, the issue of migration has been included. By virtue of the friendship agreements in place for years between Franc and African countries, the 6th two day meeting of the EU and the African Union was held in Brussels on 17-18 February of 2022. At the meeting the two sides addressed the existent shortcomings in the mutual relations between the two continents. Charles Michel along with the Senegal president Macky Sall was the president of the meeting. At the meeting, the African and European sides focused on the pivots of cooperation, security, peace, and sustainable economic development so that the results could help in improving the conditions of people and organizations.
Also at the meeting, promotion of joint priorities was stressed to secure the general and collective interests of Africa and Europe. Among the interests were observing human rights, attention to women’s conditions in all aspects of life, preserving the Environment, economic growth and fighting inequality. At the meeting, a budget of 150 billion euros was allocated for the 2030 Vision3.
2) Another topic under the “Power” subject is the subject of “Defense”. The EU pursues the “Joint European Defense Plan”. It has to be seen how France can convince other European countries within this framework to undertake commitments outside the Nato framework so that the EU-US relations are not marred4.
“Good Neighborliness” is another sub-topic of the Power subject. France intends to prioritize the infiltration and investment plan in the Balkans. Because instability in the Balkans region can damage economic integration and stability of Europe.
3) Membership: In the line of his initiatives, Mr.Macron intends to present fundamental reforms regarding membership of the EU members. Part of these reforms reflects France concerns over the termination of Merkel’s chancellorship, and part of them is included to better defend the concept of ‘Nation”.
Mr.Macron has put on his agenda the advancement of the joint European initiatives with the other European institutions (European Council, European Commission and Parliament) during his 6 month presidency over the EU. In this step, France seeks to have more consultation with the future presidents of the EU5. This subject will be included in line with the Reforms in Paragraph 3 (membership).
-In fact, making changes and defining priorities by France during its presidency are because most European people do not believe in Europe’s effective role. This pessimism began with the subject of health and hygiene in the corona period and continued with the environmental issues and the social policies applied in Europe, as well as the security of the European citizens that has been challenged by the immigrants.
- For this reason, in terms of the Environment, the EU has on its agenda non-use of carbon up to 2050, so that it has allocated a third of its budget to this matter.
- About social matters, efforts to establish equality in payments and wages and create jobs.
- In security and defense, France and Germany have assigned a joint budget for European military intervention in crisis-hit regions.
- In terms of economy, Europe tries to leverage trade tools so that it will not be lagging behind on the globalization course.
- Therefore, the EU’s 2030 Vision is focused on investments to preserve values, interests, youths, culture and health.
Masoumeh Seif Afjaei, IPIS
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)
1-Grounds for this plan were laid in the second half of 2020, during Germay’s presidency over EU
2-In his two day trip to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in December 2021, Mr.Macron tried to augment conclusion of military contracts. At present the UAE is the 5th costomer of the French military industries and between 2011 and 2020 has purchased over $5.3 military weapons from France.
3- Source: European Council
4- France joined Nato’s military branch during Sárközy’s presideny in 2007.
5- The Czech Republic will take over 6 month presidency of EU in the 2nd half of 2022, and following that, Sweden will take over in the 1st half of 2023.