Government and civil society organisations have both identified energy policy and fighting climate change as priorities of the country’s upcoming EU presidency next year. But civil society groups fear that government officials may not share their growth and job creation goals, a conference hosted by EURACTIV France heard.
French Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet told his audience that the establishment of a European energy policy and the fight against climate change would be the main priorities of the French presidency.
He said France “would go as far as possible” to reach agreement on a new EU energy package before the end of its Council tenure. This would allow the Czech presidency to present legislative proposals on the issue to the European Parliament before it breaks up on 9 February 2009, in preparation for the next elections.
Jouyet declared that if France is able to go beyond the 20% target for C02 emission reductions then it would do so, suggesting that nuclear power gives the country an advantage in this regard. Nevertheless, he underlined that a more ambitious 30% goal would be “very difficult to achieve”.
The secretary of state indicated that France would seek to rejuvenate the Lisbon Strategy by “re-opening the debate to determine exactly what we are talking about” in this regard, expressing his wish for France to be more involved in the Lisbon process.
He also announced France’s intention to bolster the Erasmus student mobility scheme, saying: “Every young person, whatever their social origin, should be able to spend a term in another European country.”
Jouyet said he hoped the ‘committee of wise men’ proposed by France to address the future of Europe would “reflect upon the EU’s evolution over the next twenty years”, and explained that attitudes towards the question of Turkish accession and future enlargement in general “should not be confused”.
Highlighting the importance of involving civil society in the debate over the French EU presidency’s priorities, he said it would be a time for “reconciliation” between the French people and the Union.
The government intends to launch a series of forums bringing together all stakeholders at the end of March 2008 to further discuss these goals, he announced.