What did France's EU presidency achieve?
France handed over the rotating EU Council Presidency to the Czech Republic on Thursday. Under France's leadership, the focus was on issues such as the energy transition, the regulation of digital services and border protection, and Paris also called for a united stance on Russia's war against Ukraine. For Europe's press the results are mixed.
Le Temps underlines what it sees as the key achievement of the French Presidency:
“The maintenance and even strengthening of European unity. This was not a given in a continent torn between east and west, north and south, 'pacifists' and 'warmongers', pro-Europeans and Eurosceptics, the climate and the Covid crises, etc. This success is of course not simply the result of a French presidency. ... All the EU states contributed to it, and the actions of the EU Commission and Parliament were just as crucial. But without France's resolve, backed by Germany, would the EU have opened its doors to Ukraine, as was decided at the last summit in Brussels?”
Macron's authority weakened
The French president did not shine on every front during the six-month presidency, Le Monde comments:
“The fact that the balance sheet is positive in many areas should not prevent us from questioning the limits of Emmanuel Macron's leadership role in a Europe where the balance of power is shifting. The desire of France's head of state 'not to humiliate' Russia and his efforts to maintain an open line to the Kremlin have weakened his authority in an area of the continent - Poland and the Baltic states - that advocates continuing the war until Russia is defeated, whereas France, Germany and Italy favour a more moderate course.”
Still urgent need for reform
Paris was unable to push through one important goal, business paper Les Echos points out:
“The reform of global corporate taxation was blocked by Hungary before it could clear the last hurdle. However, this umpteenth blackmail by Viktor Orbán is also a boon for those who advocate a reform of the unanimity rule which applies in many areas and has proven impracticable, especially in matters of taxation. Continued development of the institutions will become even more necessary now that the 27 EU states will likely accept new members.”