French EU presidency
Paris, April 4, 2008
[*Q. – [The French EU presidency] is an important presidency since it’s the last one before the Lisbon Treaty, which establishes a president of Europe, comes into force. So what strong impression do you want France to leave at the end of this presidency?*]
THE MINISTER – First of all, we’d like the treaty to be correctly implemented. It’s a treaty which includes many advances at the procedural and decision-making levels and allows the Twenty-Seven to decide and act. There’s a mixture of intergovernmental decision-making, where the member States have a power of veto, and Community decision-making [on which there’s majority voting]. I believe it’s a good compromise after the failure of the Constitution. The first thing is to have a good framework for decision-making.
The second impression we want to leave is that of a Europe developing in a radically new way. I’m referring to all the issues to do with ecology and energy, which will be our priorities. (…)
[*Q. – Starting on 1 July, six months of French presidency of the European Union. Afterwards, Europe is going to continue, but what would you already like to see headway on during these six months? France will have succeeded if she does what?*]
THE MINISTER – Firstly, if France has put new solid institutions in place, in the framework of an enlarged Europe.
If we have made Europe move forward on the environment and on the challenges of migration.
Thirdly, if we have opened up important areas of activity. Defence is a serious matter and if France doesn’t do this, no one will do it in her place. You have countries which have special responsibilities in Europe: France and the United Kingdom. If we don’t do this now with the world as it is at the moment, we’ll have failed.
We aren’t perhaps going to succeed in everything, do everything in six months, I agree, but we have to ask the right questions and must also take concrete action. We must ensure there are more things to facilitate life for our compatriots: everyone should be able to have a health card so they can get treatment in another EU country, this is also a concrete objective. We must ensure that students in Europe, apprentices, those who work can enjoy a six-month stay in any other EU country. This won’t be done overnight, but this is how we’ll build a new European generation./.