Monday, January 17

Why it matters. French Presidency of the EU: Macron at a press conference this Thursday, against the backdrop of the presidential election

Emmanuel Macron displays his European ambitions this Thursday. The Head of State will present his priorities for the French presidency of the Council of the European Union which, starting on January 1, will hit the presidential campaign head-on.

During this press conference, scheduled for 4 p.m., at the presidential palace of the Elysee, Emmanuel Macron plans to focus on Europe, but journalists should take this rare opportunity to question him on political issues, and in particular on his still unconfirmed candidacy for the presidential election. “The campaign will come on time,” continues to hammer Gabriel Attal, the government spokesman, defending a head of state “at work” until the end of the five-year term.

“Relaunch, power and belonging”

Before answering questions, President Macron will explain why he attaches so much importance to this rotating six-monthly presidency of the 27, the 13th exercised by France since the 1950s and the first since 2008. Since his election in 2017, celebrated at his of the EU anthem, he poses as the leader of the pro-Europeans against the “nationalists” and “populists”, and praises the advances obtained at 27, such as the post-Covid 19 recovery plan of 750 billion euros adopted in 2020. “It is the identity of Emmanuel Macron that no one, on the right or on the left, can challenge him and that he will carry until the elections,” says a member of his entourage.

The Head of State announced Monday that the priorities of the French presidency, known as the PFUE, revolved around three axes: “revival, power and belonging”. Economic recovery is “necessary” in “response to the crisis” of Covid-19, he said, before defending the need to strengthen the power of the EU by making it more autonomous, in particular militarily. For him, “European sovereignty strengthens the sovereignty of France” which is better equipped to defend its interests in the world with its 26 partners than on its own. He regrets, however, that the “feeling of belonging” of the French to the EU has “withered” in recent years, in particular because “when things get difficult, we say: it’s Europe’s fault”.

A very busy schedule

In front of the press, he should detail his ideas for reforming the Schengen agreements, advancing the “climate package” with carbon taxation, better regulating the digital giants, harmonizing the minimum wage, and rebuilding “a treaty of friendship with the ‘Africa’. For this, dozens of meetings are planned, mainly over the first three months because of the presidential election. They will begin with a speech followed by a debate in the European Parliament on January 19.

However, France’s room for maneuver will be limited because if the rotating presidency gives momentum to certain priorities, it then remains to build a consensus of 27, which is never easy. As a result, the PFUE “may require a lot of energy” from Emmanuel Macron and the government at a time when they will already have to manage national affairs while campaigning, warns a majority official, who says “strongly doubt ”That it can have“ a decisive impact ”on the electorate. “I hope that the French presidency will not be a moment of communication of three months before the presidential election”, warned Tuesday the president of the European Affairs committee of the Senate Jean-François Rapin, of the Republicans.

Emmanuel Macron’s European agenda will be busy until the end of the year with the reception of the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who will make his first international trip to Paris on Friday. “The French are delighted” because “Germany is on the march ahead of the presidency,” underlines Pascale Joannin, director general of the Robert Schuman Foundation. On Monday, Emmanuel Macron will travel to Hungary to meet in particular the sovereignist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, before the European summit on December 16 and 17. In the meantime, he prepared his press conference by exchanging with the two heads of the EU: the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen on Monday, before a lunch this Thursday at the Elysee with the President of the European Council Charles Michel .

Reference-www.leprogres.fr

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