How France intends to meet all those EU presidency expectations

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The French EU Presidency will concentrate on a common approach to migration, climate change, energy policy and security and defence as its key areas, writes French EU Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet for the summer edition of Europe’s World.

Jouyet says France will propose a “European pact on immigration and asylum,” meaning countries will have to agree on a widespread approach towards migrants’ countries of origin. Additionally, he says, more scrutiny should be given to control of the EU’s external borders. 

There should be “common standards on the criteria” for issuing visas, argues Jouyet, and therefore domestic laws will “need to be converged in the field of asylum laws”. As one of the reasons for immigration is the favourable economic situation in Europe, Jouyet proposes that the EU should have a “fully-balanced approach”, including a broader aid development policy. Giving an example, he suggests Europe should assist “fund transfers in migrants’ countries of origin” as well as provide “aid to poorer countries in new areas like health, education and governance”.

Jouyet hopes to achieve an EU-wide political agreement on the recent energy and climate packages under the French Presidency. 

France will promote a sustainable form of economic growth by endorsing sustainable development and ecologically-friendly agriculture production and urging industry to be “more sensitive to the needs of the environment”, he says. 

On energy policy, Jouyet believes Europe needs to “bring about a managed liberalisation of the energy market”. He believes that France’s recently proposed ‘third way’ will “offer an escape route from the apparent impasse” on the issue. “Market liberalisation cannot take place without there first being a strategic vision of energy supply policy in the EU,” he argues. 

Commenting on energy supply to the EU, Jouyet believes Europe needs “to set clear objectives regarding more diversified energy sources, while at the same time face up to the nuclear energy issue”. 

On defence, he calls for European defence capacity to be equipped with “military tools commensurate with Europe’s economic and commercial strength”. Jouyet claims European defence forces need to be better mobilised, stating that the European Defence Agency needs a “re-launch”. 

He confirms the CAP health check will be carried out under the French Presidency, laying the foundations for fuller reform after 2013. 

France will try to boost SMEs through the European Small Business Act, as well as concentrate on climate change, “flexicurity” and providing more support for research and innovation as part of the wider Lisbon Strategy, says Jouyet. 

He concludes by highlighting the importance of the social agenda, where France will look to promote the mobility of workers inside the internal market, fight against all forms of discrimination, promote equal opportunities and social cohesion and lastly push for an “enlarged and upgraded ERASMUS exchange programme”. 

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