The French Presidency will focus on stimulating growth and employment, the future of Europe, boosting Europe's influence on the international scene and the protection of citizens, the Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet has revealed.
The priorities of the forthcoming French Presidency were outlined by Jouyet in a speech to French diplomats on August 28, building on comments made the previous day by Sarkozy (EurActiv 28/08/07).
The presidency will also seek to boost energy security and innovation and work towards shaping a "European generation".
Jouyet emphasised that France favours "collective" action and would seek to co-ordinate its work with the Czech and Swedish Presidencies, which follow in 2009.
The French Presidency will concentrate on the following main objectives:
- Growth and employment
Highlighting the continued importance of Lisbon Agenda, Jouyet again emphasised the focus on strengthening growth, competition and employment policy.
However, he declared that the Lisbon Objectives needed to be more "definite" and "binding", and called for a European economic policy that prioritises growth and employment in the eurozone, as well as increased dialogue with the European Central Bank.
The presidency will also focus on promoting active employment policies, including bringing in marginalised workers, he added.
- Europe's role in the world
Building on the work currently being undertaken by the Portuguese Presidency in this area, Jouyet said that France would concentrate on helping the Union's neighbours to develop the "same dreams" as other EU countries had before they joined.
He outlined a focus on developing closer relationships with Russia, the Balkan countries and Africa, as well as the Mediterranean countries, where he echoed Sarkozy's sentiments in alluding to the promotion of "a genuine Mediterranean Union". As a first step to achieving this goal, Jouyet said that the French Presidency intended to "enhance the effectiveness of the measures for EU-Mediterranean cooperation under the Barcelona process".
- The future Europe
Jouyet indicated that the French Presidency would work for "the Europe of the future", emphasising the need for legislation in this field.
It will focus on the environment, stimulating research and innovation and supporting small businesses by developing a risk-capital system, as well as the development of the European Institute of Technology and the Galileo project, he said.
He also alluded to a potential role for France in developing the EU’s policy priorities – and their funding – in the 2014-2020 funding period.
Jouyet spoke of raising awareness among young people of the significance of being European, which could include a 'Erasmus Plus' programme focusing on exchanging professional experience.
- Protection of citizens and immigration
Jouyet described the protection of citizens as a fundamental objective of the French Presidency, while emphasising that this fits alongside the need for business flexibility.
The French Presidency will focus on "the fight against crime and immigration", he said. He called for the introduction of new legislation to address citizens' concerns about immigration, highlighting the urgency of this matter for southern EU countries.