France has officially taken over the Presidency of the Council of Europe from 23:00 GMT on 1 January 2022.
What this means is that France has taken the spotlight in the Council and is allowed to set the agenda for 6 months until the next Member State (in this case the Czech Republic) takes over. The Presidency rotates every 6 months to a different Member State, and each Member States only gets one 6-month term roughly every 13 years.
French President Emmanuel Macron has big ambitions for his 6-month term as President of the Council.
“You can count on my total commitment to make this moment, which only occurs once every 13 years, a time of progress: a time of progress for the control of our borders, our defense, climate transition, equality between women and men, the construction of a new alliance with the African continent, supervision of the major platforms of the internet, and culture in Europe,” Macron said in his New Year’s Address.
Macron has said before that “2022 must be the year of a European turning point,” eluding to the Union being at a crossroads of different ways to go.
The French Presidency of the European Union (FPEU) is expected to focus on three areas of interest: introducing EU-wide minimum wages, regulating digital giants, and creating a carbon tax on imported items that, based on their environmental impact.
Macron is also pushing reforms in the Schengen Area to “protect Europe’s borders” against current and future migration crises as well as beefing up Europe’s military defense. The idea is that European sovereignty is a top priority because a sovereign Europe is stronger and safer.
“For the past four years, President Macron and the Government have been working to build genuine European sovereignty, meaning Europe’s ability to exist in the world to defend our values and interests. The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union will continue this work for a more inclusive, sovereign and democratic Europe,” reads a French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcement of the French Council Presideny.