Französische EU-Ratspräsidentschaft © Pexels/Rosivan Morais

French Presidency: Macron's Roadmap for Europe

The French Council Presidency has begun in January. With the publication of the agenda, it has become clear how ambitious President Emmanuel Macron's plans for the EU are. At the same time, a number of risk factors threaten to thwart these political plans. What can be expected from the next six months?

At the beginning of January 2022, France took over the rotating six-month presidency of the EU Council. Even before the agenda was published, it was clear that this presidency would be a special one. In addition to the viral Omicron and the new German federal government, the French presidential and parliamentary elections fall in the upcoming six-months period. There are therefore concerns in Brussels that the Presidency will be influenced by the election campaign in the neighbouring country when Emmanuel Macron announces his candidacy. The possibility of a change of government is also not ruled out.

Strengthening Europe's Sovereignty

The presidency can be divided into two phases - before and after the election. Many suspect that President Macron has chosen an agenda for Brussels with which he can, among other objectives, score points with French voters. The first hints of what the priorities of the Council Presidency will be were heard in a speech in December 2021 and have now been confirmed. The three overarching aims are the strengthening of Europe's sovereignty, a new growth model for the Union and the creation of a more humane Europe. Specifically, Macron wants to tackle the issues of fiscal rules, migration, climate protection measures and the regulation of technology corporations, including their taxation. Social policy, the recovery fund, a banking union, the rule of law, defence and the "Conference on the Future of Europe" are also high on the agenda. It is no coincidence that these priorities relate to the concerns and problems of many French people, because France is not spared of growing Euroscepticism either. A case in point is the topic of migration, which is one of the central election campaign issues in France.