Brussels (Brussels Morning) France took over the EU helm from Slovenia at the start of the year and is to preside over the EU Council until the end of June.
France has chosen “recovery, power and belonging” as the slogan for its presidential term at the head of the EU Council.
President Emmanuel Macron had previously announced plans to tackle issues concerning migration control and the EU’s budgetary framework. However, according to RFI reporting, his critics claim his agenda is designed to promote his re-election bid.
The campaign got off to a rocky start when the right wing forced the authorities to remove a giant EU flag from the Arc de Triomphe, which had been put there in place of the French flag on New Year’s Eve
Macron’s critics stressed that the President was insulting the memory of fallen French soldiers and erasing French identity.
“We should move from a Europe of internal cooperation to a Europe that is powerful in the world, fully sovereign and free to make its own choices and master its destiny”, Macron declared last month.
He has been called upon to delay France’s presiding over the EU Council. Critics maintain that doing so creates a conflict of interest at a time when France is preparing for presidential elections in April.
They insist that taking the helm of the EU Council provides Macron with a platform that can be used in the presidential race.
Macron’s plans for EU
Commenting on his plans for the EU, Macron has called for the reform of the Schengen Area rules to “prevent the right of asylum… from being misused.”
French MEP David Cormand said it worried him “to hear a French president talking about migration as a problem in need of a repressive response.” He believed that migration was not a “concrete” issue and argued that France should focus on fair taxation and agriculture.
Frédéric Allemand, a European studies researcher at the University of Luxembourg, noted that France will have to implement the decisions of the previous EU Council head, “including achieving a 55-percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.”
Allemand dismissed fears that Macron would abuse his position at the helm of the EU Council in pursuit of his goals for France as being exaggerated.