France takes over EU presidency with one eye on April elections

Paris, Jan 1 (EFE).- France on Saturday took over the rotational presidency of the Council of the European Union, a position it will use to push for a more sovereign bloc and green economics all the while keeping on eye on looming presidential elections in April.

The ambitious targets set by French president Emmanuel Macron are made even more challenging by soaring Covid-19 cases that have prompted a raft of nations to introduce fresh restrictions, casting a shadow on early 2022.

Macron has yet to officially announce his candidacy in the presidential polls although it is just a matter of time. It makes for a busy four months for the 44-year-old, who is odds on to clear the first round of the vote and win the second, according to recent pollings.

The president is likely to use his country’s EU presidency to further strengthen his image as a devout believer in the common European project during the campaign, while his opponents will rally against Macronism.

Today Macronism has come to symbolize those who defend multilateralism and the European alliance over identity politics.

At the stroke of midnight the Elysee Palace, the Eiffel Tower and other French monuments were lit up with the flag of the EU, which will be projected onto other buildings across the country this week.

The last time France took on the rotational presidency was with Nicolas Sarkozy back in 2008.

At the time, before the signing of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, the role was to guide the European Council and its foreign affairs, two areas that are now covered by EU Council president Charles Michel and top diplomat Josep Borrell.

Macron’s role now will be to guide discussions at the Council of the EU, which brings together representatives of the bloc’s 27 member states.

The presidency now offers more opportunities to host informal meetings for countries to discuss issues. France already has 400 such encounters on the agenda.

Under France’s leadership, the EU will push for legislation changes to boost the regulation of tech giants in the bloc as well as projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. EFE


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