France to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU starting from January 2022

Giorgia Termini

From 1 January to 30 June 2022, France will be taking over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, succeeding Slovenia.

Last week, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša presented during the European Council summit of 16-17 December the achievements of the Slovenian Presidency. During the conference, that saw the participation of European Council President Michel and President von der Leyen, Janša argued that EU resilience and recovery was one of the top priorities of his team and that important contributions have been made by the Slovenian Presidency in terms of EU resilience and preparedness for future health crisis, cybersecurity challenges, natural disasters and other possible threats.

Earlier on 9 December, France presented the priorities of its upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU. During the press conference, French President Emmanuel Macron recalled that many important pieces of legislation will be negotiated or adopted during the next 6 months. He also argued that in the digital realm, the priority will be the economic regulation and accountability of platforms through legislation on digital services and markets (DSA and DMA). Concerning the green transition, he reiterated the importance of the establishment of carbon pricing at the EU borders for imported products, while on social policy he stressed the importance of adopting European legislation on minimum wages.

Central to the new Presidency would be working towards a more sovereign Europe, initiating a reform of the Schengen area, putting in place a political architecture for carrying it out and creating a border emergency support mechanism to handle crises. Further prerogatives for European sovereignty would concern migration and border protection, defence policies and the stability of EU neighbouring countries.

Beyond this, the French Presidency aims to pave the way for further changes by proposing a new growth and investment model within the Euro zone, incentivising culture through the creation of the Europe Academy, expanding the Erasmus programme, and creating a joint research agency for Alzheimer’s.

In addition, 2022 will be a delicate year for France as, in mid-April, presidential elections will also be held and Emmanuel Macron will probably be running for his second term – even if a formal announcement is only expected at the beginning of January. With respect to this, some argue that thanks to the overlapping of the two presidencies, many timely legislative dossiers would be pushed to be negotiated or adopted during the first trimester of the Presidency, in the attempt to turn results at EU level into electoral consensus at national level, to the benefit of the Macron’s presidency run.