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On the 1st of January, France has taken over the rotating presidency of the EU Council. This six month period will coincide with the French presidential election campaign. In the run-up to the election, President Macron seems intent on using this platform to advance his own reelection agenda, rather than the needs of people in Europe.

 

 

3 ways  the next EU Council presidency risks being an election show:

1) The perfect campaign tool

Macron could have postponed this once-in-14-years opportunity until after the election. But with more than 400 events and many more media exposure opportunities to present the president as the “saviour of Europe”, the temptation to exploit it for electoral purposes was obviously too great. But, the uncertainty of the French political changeover will doom his EU Presidency to emptiness, save for a great deal of communication serving his reelection campaign.

2) A bad European record

Emmanuel Macron’s European record is abysmal. He fought behind the scenes to:

  • include gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy (the green labelling system for investors developed by the European Commission)
  • hand over the Common Agricultural Policy reform to the agro-industrial lobby,
  • limit the climate package to the mere extension of a non-functioning carbon market,
  • torpedo the directive on tax transparency for multinationals,
  • block the strengthening of parental leave.

Macron also accepted  an insufficient recovery plan, conditional on compliance with the austerity golden rule and gave in to the authoritarian excesses of Eastern governments by approving the Commission’s soft soft approach to Poland and Hungary’s challenges to justice, freedoms, LGBTIQ+ rights and abortion.

3) Real challenges dodged

Macron’s purported EU priorities, based on the triptych “recovery, power, belonging”, are in contradiction with his national choices over throughout the past four years.

Do you think that Macron will use this opportunity to attack the rules that impose austerity or competition that were suspended during the crisis? No, not even! The French presidency should be an opportunity to learn the lessons of the ongoing crisis. Its priority should be to prevent the return of the neoliberal straitjacket (austerity, competition, free trade) that has been put on hold since the beginning of the pandemic. Those policies condemn Europe to powerlessness in facing the challenges of climate change and inequality.

It is high time the EU turned the page on unfettered liberalism and started serving its people and their planet.

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