Rotating presidency

Three goals for France at the head of the EU Council

France holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. Photo: European Union/Archives

France holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. Photo: European Union/Archives

Revival, power and a sense of belonging are on the agenda for France’s six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union, which began on 1 January. Luxembourg will have to wait until 2029 to take over this role.

A new year means a new presidency of the Council of the European Union. France has taken on this role from 1 January until 30 June 2022. It is taking over from Slovenia and will be replaced, for the second part of the year, by the Czech Republic.

What does this position, which changes hands every six months, entail? “To give impetus to the council’s legislative work while maintaining the continuity of the European Union’s programme and ensuring the smooth running of the legislative process and good cooperation between the member states,” the Council of the European Union says on its website.

In concrete terms, the country in question plans and chairs council sessions and meetings of its preparatory bodies. It organises other formal and informal meetings. The presidency also represents the interests of the 27 member states in discussions with the European Commission and parliament.

The Council of the European Union brings together the ministers of the member states according to their areas of competence in ten thematic areas, from foreign affairs to the environment. It has legislative and budgetary powers, together with the European Parliament. This should be distinguished from the European Council, which brings together the heads of state of the 27 countries and is chaired by Charles Michel.

Sovereignty, employment and innovation

By taking over the presidency, France will nevertheless give its impetus to the agenda of the various meetings. The country has defined a programme based on three goals:

A more sovereign Europe, through “the strengthening of the Schengen area, the protection of its borders, the control of migration and an improved asylum policy”, but also through a Europe “capable of acting in terms of security and defence, through its action for the prosperity and stability of its neighbourhood, in particular through its commitment in the Western Balkans and the rebuilding of its relationship with Africa” and through “its contribution to the response to global challenges,” the presidency says on its dedicated website.

A new European growth model to “make Europe a great continent of production, job creation, innovation and technological excellence, reconciling economic development and climate ambition” and which “offers workers quality, qualified and better paid jobs.”

A Europe that is "humane, that listens to the concerns of its citizens in the Conference on the Future of Europe, that defends the rule of law and is faithful to its values, proud of its culture, confident in science and knowledge, determined to combat discrimination and committed to the future of its youth.”

These guidelines are part of the continuity of the work of the Slovenian presidency and in a broader framework, defined by trio with the future Czech and Swedish presidencies.

This is France’s 13th presidency. Luxembourg, for its part, presided over the council for the 12th time between July and December 2015. According to the schedule, it will take over the reins again between January and June 2029.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.