France took over the six-month rotating presidency of the Eu Union on Saturday with an formidable programme for a “tough” and “sovereign” Europe, however that is more likely to be disrupted by way of the brand new outbreak of COVID-19 and the April presidential elections.
At the hours of darkness (23:00 GMT on Friday), France took over from Slovenia, which had held the presidency of the EU Council since 1 July, and can be changed in the second one part of the 12 months by way of the Czech Republic.
As an emblem of this handover, the Eiffel Tower and the Elysée Palace had been lit up on the identical time in blue, the color of Europe.
However the set up of the Eu flag underneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris additionally prompted an argument.
A ways-right presidential applicants Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour mentioned they had been “outraged” that the French flag have been changed by way of the EU flag “over the tomb of the unknown soldier”.
“The French flag will clearly be reinstalled,” spoke back the Secretary of State for Eu Affairs, Clément Beaune, denouncing “sterile polemics”.
President Emmanuel Macron is promising an formidable programme for France’s six-month tenure.
“You’ll rely on my general dedication,” he mentioned in his New Yr’s cope with. “To make this second, which handiest happens as soon as each and every 13 years, a time of growth: a time of growth for the regulate of our borders, our defence, local weather transition, equality between men and women, the development of a brand new alliance with the African continent, supervision of the foremost platforms of the web, and tradition in Europe.”
‘A Eu turning level’
For 6 months, France will due to this fact have substantial affect to push ahead sure problems and in finding compromises for the 27 Member States, even though the workout, which may be very intently supervised, calls for neutrality and tact.
Macron has set the bar very prime: “2022 will have to be the 12 months of a Eu turning level,” he mentioned.
This can be a query of creating “Europe tough on the earth, absolutely sovereign, freed from its alternatives and grasp of its future”, he defined on 9 December.
The French presidency of the Eu Union (FPEU) has set 3 precedence spaces: the creation of minimal wages all over the EU, the legislation of virtual giants and the introduction of a carbon tax on merchandise imported into Europe in keeping with their environmental affect.
Macron additionally advocates a reform of the Schengen space to raised “offer protection to Europe’s borders” within the face of migratory crises, a subject matter that can be on the middle of the French presidential marketing campaign.
He additionally intends to place at the desk a revision of the budgetary regulations – the well-known Maastricht standards – which govern Eu deficits, so as so to finance extra Eu investments and expansion.
And to proceed to make growth on Eu defence, in spite of the reluctance of sure companions who’re above all hooked up to the safety of NATO.
Those are ambitions that he has now not ceased to show since his election in 2017, however now not with out inflicting rigidity amongst a few of his companions, specifically in Japanese Europe.
On the other hand, he can rely at the toughen of the brand new German chancellor, the social democrat Olaf Scholz, who will preside over the G7 in 2022 and who additionally advocates a “extra sovereign and powerful Europe”.
“In combination, we will be able to paintings for a extra virtual, ecological and social Europe, whose voice is heard on the earth,” Eu Fee President Ursula von der Leyen additionally tweeted on Saturday.
The council presidency coincides with France’s presidential election – it confers at the holder a possibility to persuade priorities at the Eu time table.
The EU is at a crossroads on quite a few problems, from safety in Europe – tens of 1000’s of Russian troops are massed on the gates of Ukraine – to the well being disaster this is as soon as once more clouding the industrial horizon.
On the other hand, the presidential election in Would possibly and the legislative elections in June in France will hit the rustic’s EU presidency arduous, decreasing the time to be had for motion.
The surge of the Omicron variant will even disappointed the time table, a minimum of in January when many conferences can be held remotely.
The opposition denounces an instrumentalisation of the “PFUE” by way of Emmanuel Macron, an overly most probably candidate for re-election even though he has up to now avoided making any announcement.
“It may be an asset for the French president (…) but additionally a possibility” if his political combatants select to assault him head-on on his Eu coverage, summarised Thierry Chopin, professor of political science on the Catholic College of Lille (north).