Brussels (Brussels Morning) France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced his country’s plans for presiding over the Council of the EU on Thursday.
He stressed the importance of a “sovereign” EU, noting that France would push to reform the Schengen Area, strengthen border control and rethink environmental rules, RFI reports.
“We should move from a Europe of co-operation within our frontiers to a Europe powerful in the world, fully sovereign, free to make its own choices and master of its destiny”, he declared.
France takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU at the start of 2022.
“Faced with all these crises that are hitting Europe, many people would like to rely only on the nation state”, Macron observed, noting that “these nations are our strength, our pride, but European unity is their indispensable complement.”
Tougher border protection
Commenting on the migrant crisis, he pointed to the thousands gathering on thed EU’s eastern borders, citing in particular the situation on Poland’s border with Belarus.
The EU “needs to ensure the protection of its borders”, he stressed, and France planned to push for a reform of the Schengen Area during its six-month presidency, he said.
“Schengen is an area that has become fragmented”, he added, “because of the terrorist threat, because of migration tensions and because of the health panic.”
Macron said France would push for a reform of the EU rules that keep deficits below 3% of GDP, pointing out how EU member states are spending a lot on economic measures to cushion the blow of the health restrictions they have been forced to impose.
Turning to environmental issues, he announced plans to propose new rules aimed at preventing export of deforestation.
“We will also advance negotiations on the creation of a European instrument to fight against imported deforestation, which will aim to ban imports to the European Union of soy, beef, palm oil, cocoa and coffee when they have contributed to deforestation”, he declared.Commenting on the fishing spat with the UK, Macron criticised the British government for failing to keep its Brexit promises, but noted that progress had been made in recent weeks, stating that France wants to cooperate and re-engage in good faith.