With France set to take over the rotating EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2022, European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune last week launched two committees: a monitoring committee and a reflection committee. EURACTIV France reports.
“Recovery, power, belonging” is the French government’s motto for the EU presidency.
“In order to lead this presidency well, it is essential to prepare for it now and to set up a precise and rigorous organisation,” France’s Europe and foreign ministry declared last November.
This kind of “precise and rigorous organisation” is to be achieved via the cross-monitoring committee, which brings together French MPs, senators and MEPs, to ensure national representatives have their say.
The primary mission of this committee is to “gather everyone’s opinion on the priorities that should be carried forward”, MoDem MP and chairwoman of the European affairs committee at the National Assembly Sabine Thillaye told EURACTIV France. “The question now is what the prerogatives of these observers will be,” said Thillaye.
Priorities to be clarified
While many concrete themes have yet to be defined, several are already emerging, such as the revision of “budgetary rules” – a debate which has been rekindled due to the health crisis – the “digital transition”, “climate issues” and “social rights”.
Whether or not France is willing, many themes should come to fruition under the French Presidency, Thillaye added, pointing to the arrival of several major legislative texts by 2022, including the Green Deal, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and the Digital Services Act (DSA).
Bringing ‘Europe to life everywhere in France’
“I believe we need to make much more of a link between the national, European, and local levels,” said Thillaye, who called for “accelerating the Europeanisation of policies” and “keeping the debate alive”.
It is in this sense that a cultural committee – based around Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot and Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune – should soon see the light of day, the government announced recently. The committee will have the task to encourage and supervise theatrical and audiovisual creation and encourage a debate on how to “bring Europe to life everywhere in France”.
Meanwhile, the word “belonging” should occupy the roadmap of the French presidency, Thillaye said it was a debate that was talked about without anyone ever really taking part. “The question of how to begin to foster this sense of belonging has long been raised,” she noted, stressing that it is “very important (…) to promote European citizenship”.
Moreover, the French EU Presidency will also coincide with French general elections set for mid-April 2022.
“I think this is a chance to put European issues at the forefront”, said Thillaye, who dismissed possible electoral temptations due to the EU presidency’s demand for “neutrality”.
"Relance, Puissance, Appartenance" : @SabineThillaye (Dem) fait le plaidoyer de la "devise" de la présidence française du Conseil de l'Union européenne lors du premier semestre 2022. Elle interroge le Gvt sur ses axes de travail et ses priorités. #DirectAN #QAG pic.twitter.com/bsxuGkb5E3
— Assemblée nationale (@AssembleeNat) February 16, 2021
[Edited by Benjamin Fox]