EU Parliament: France takes over the Council Presidency

Status: 01/19/2022 03:41 a.m

French President Macron has already achieved that nuclear energy in the EU will be considered sustainable in the future. Observers expect that he will also use the EU Council Presidency as an election campaign platform.

By Helga Schmidt, ARD Studio Brussels

Emmanuel Macron has big plans for his presidency. When he presents his ambitious program in the European Parliament this afternoon, he will not only be speaking to the MEPs, but also to his compatriots at home. Macron has to win presidential elections, which will take place in April, right in the middle of the presidency. For the election campaign, the French President will use the European stage, many in Parliament expect that.

Helga Schmidt
ARD studio Brussels

And he has already had great success. The fact that nuclear energy in the EU will be considered sustainable in the future and could attract billions in investment with the Commission’s seal of approval was a start entirely to the taste of the French President. “Basically, Macron has become the chief lobbyist for the nuclear industry,” says Daniel Freund, a Greens MP. He represented their interests in the circle of heads of state and government. “It couldn’t be any better for the lobby.”

Freund criticizes too little resistance from Germany

According to the Green politician, there was not enough resistance from Germany when Macron organized the billions in investments for France’s outdated nuclear industry. Germany was busy with the election campaign, then came the coalition negotiations.

Freund also missed setting the course that would be necessary for the implementation of the so-called Green Deal. “Climate has not been given its own chapter in the program of the Council Presidency.” And in the French election campaign, the topic of renewable energies played “almost no role at all”.

Macron wants “strategic autonomy”

Foreign and security policy will play a major role in Macron’s speech. The French President has been demanding that Europeans do more for their own security for years. Strategic autonomy is the keyword – for this he can count on the support of Europe’s conservatives.So far we have been spending our defense budgets very inefficiently,” criticizes CDU security politician Michael Gahler. “There is not enough joint planning, not enough joint research, procurement and practice.”

Macron wants to implement the strategic compass that has been planned for some time, a white paper for improved European defense capabilities. In the centre: a rapid deployment force of 5000 soldiers from the various EU member states. The troops already exist on paper, now they should be operational. “I think it’s right,” affirms Gahler, “that we are moving more together in Europe in the area of ​​security and defense policy, including armaments policy.”

For a long time, the French president had called for more willingness to engage in dialogue with Putin, and he stood closely by Angela Merkel’s side. The European Parliament is curious to see which course Macron is proposing today in view of the escalating Ukraine crisis.

Left support reform of debt rules

Macron will certainly bring up Europe’s finances. The reform of the strict debt rules is the core project of his presidency. Reform, which means in French: relaxation of the limits for new borrowing. The French President no longer wants investments in digital and in the green conversion of the economy to be counted towards the three percent limit for the deficit. There is praise for this in Parliament, especially left of center.

“I think that the Stability and Growth Pact, i.e. the European debt brake, is a very harmful instrument,” says Martin Schirdewan, co-chair of the Left Party in the European Parliament. Harmful because the strict limitation of new borrowing has proven to be a brake on future investments, investments for example in climate protection, digitization, public services. “Because states simply have their hands tied to make meaningful investments.”

While support for Macron’s economic plans is coming from the left, enthusiasm among the German FDP MPs is limited. Relaxed debt rules and a renaissance of the idea of ​​the state as the best economic leader – not to their liking. Which is piquant, because the German FDP MPs sit in the European Parliament in the Liberal group – and that means: in a party family together with the MPs from Macron’s liberal République en Marche.

It will be worth taking a close look at who is applauding when during the speech.

Macron in the EU Parliament – What do European MPs expect?

Helga Schmidt, ARD Brussels, 18.1.2022 9:49 p.m

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