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The priorities of the French presidency of the EU


Latest update : 2008-06-30

Among the top priorities of the French presidency of the European Union: energy, immigration, CAP and a Mediterranean Union.


Energy and climate deal


If France manages to conclude an agreement over a 20% reduction in EU emissions pollutants by 2020 before the end of its presidency, it will have scored a major victory. This would allow the EU to take on the world leadership when negotiating the “post-Kyoto” agreement in Copenhagen at the end of 2009. The 1997 so-called Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions expires in 2012.


But it’s far from being a done deal.


The energy ministers of the 27 member countries were able to reach an agreement about the liberalization of the European energy market that spares big production and distribution companies, like the French EDF, despite the desire of European Parliament, who shares decision power, to dismantle them.


However the country by country objectives proposed by the Commission are extremely ambitious. At least for the industry and certain governments who are worried about having to defend an unpopular rise in electricity prices resulting from it. The cost is estimated at 0.5% of EU GDP of the EU, or 60 million Euros. The new energy deal plans for a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared to 1990. European countries are expected to produce at least 20% of renewable energy and bring up the part of biofuels to 10% of the total fuel consumption.  


Increasingly criticized because they take up farming land previously used for crop growing, biofuels are part of an ongoing controversy as are carbon exchange schemes.


Click on the video links on the right hand side to view a France 24 report on the EU climate package



The European commission estimates that there are up to eight million illegal immigrants in the European Union.  

Nicolas Sarkozy’s objective is to push forward  a European pact on immigration to both fight against illegal immigration and promote the integration of legal immigrants at the EU’s next summit in October. Some proposals will be examined during an informal meeting of interior and justice ministers due to take place in Cannes on July 7 and 8.

The pact plans for legal action against employers who hire illegal immigrants, as well as the 'Returns Directive' making it possible to detain illegal immigrants for up to 18 months before sending them back to their homelands. Sarkozy would like his neighbours to commit to refusing further regularizations of illegal immigrants, as happened in Spain (700,000 in 2005) or Italy (500,000 in 2007.)


Click on the video links on the right hand side to view a France 24 report on France's push for a European immigration pact


Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

France intends to reach an agreement on a limited reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during its EU presidency to counter countries who would like to dismantle it — notably the UK. The revision would happen within the same budget, some 42 billion Euros -- an amount protected until 2013.
In a context of low food supply and rising prices across the world, the CAP ‘health check’ should help European farmers to better adjust their production to market fluctuations.


Click on the video links on the right hand side to view a France 24 report on the CAP's health check


Union for the Mediterranean



Nicolas Sarkozy has had to scale back ambitions for his pet project after Germany and the Commission’s intervention. It’s now merely an extension of the Barcelona Process launched in 2005. As a result, Southern Mediterranean countries are showing much less interest. The participation of Israel makes more than one Arab leader uncomfortable and Lybian leader Muammar Gaddafi or Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika could refuse to be seated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


There are many candidates but few positions available at the future Mediterranean Union. President Sarkozy is expected to hold a press conference with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, which is rumoured to be the co-presiding country. 


Turkey is considering its options, careful not to rush into the trap set by Sarkozy, who has never showed support for Turkey’s integration in the EU.


Forty-four heads of state have been invited to discuss the structure of the future Mediterranean Union in Paris on July 13. Now, who’s coming?


Click on the video links on the right hand side to view a France 24 report on President Sarkozy's pet project, the Union for the Mediterranean


Date created : 2008-06-29