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A Europe that acts to respond to today's challenges

© Sylvain Dubuisson/SGPFUE - photo SGAE © Sylvain Dubuisson/SGPFUE - photo SGAE
  • On: 31.12.2008

The six months of the French Presidency were primarily marked by a series of international crises (conflict in Georgia, economic and financial crises) in which the European Union was able to play a decisive role thanks to its capacity to act in a reactive, voluntary and united manner. Moreover, the Presidency also stayed the course on the priorities it had set itself at the start: combating climate change (with the adoption of the 'energy-climate package'), immigration policy (with the adoption of the European pact on immigration and asylum), the European security and defence policy (a new stimulus with a specific and operational programme). The six months were marked by major advances in all the EU's areas of activity, notably in the economic and financial domain, in the social sector, on the cultural front, and also at international level (with 8 summits between the EU and its main international partners, including the Paris summit launching the Union for the Mediterranean).

The six months of the French Presidency were marked by a series of international crises which tested the European Union's capacity to collectively respond to critical problems. The European Union was able to respond to these challenges and play a decisive role in handling these crises by acting in a united and determined fashion. From 12 August it acted decisively in Georgia to facilitate a cessation of hostilities and contribute to finding a balanced peace, which remains to be consolidated. Confronted with a global financial crisis unprecedented since the 1929 crash, it took advantage of the formidable asset represented by the euro and prevented the collapse of the banking system by pragmatically establishing a rescue plan that soon became the international reference model. In the face of the economic crisis, it quickly succeeded in defining a strategy for the 27 Member States which is a coordinated mobilisation of a single 'toolbox' using all the potential of the common European policies.

Against this very difficult background, the Presidency still stayed the course on the priorities it had set itself at the outset. It pursued them methodically working in partnership with the Commission and the European Parliament. In this way, the French Presidency committed Europe to the forefront of the fight against climate change on the basis of an historic agreement, strengthening its credibility ahead of future international negotiations. It set the reference framework with regard to migration policies for the years to come, notably through the pact on immigration and asylum. It obtained an agreement on the 'health check' of the common agricultural policy, which constitutes an essential milestone towards a common policy that will better respond to the challenges of public health, territorial equilibrium, rural development and the protection of the environment. Lastly, it gave a new stimulus to a European security and defence policy founded on a common analysis of new risks and a reinforcement of its operational capacities for responding effectively.

In addition, the six months of the Presidency were marked by major advances in all the EU's areas of activity - international, economic, financial, social and cultural. Details of this are set out in this document, which reviews the main results of the French Presidency and puts them in the context of the targets that will mark the coming months. The year 2009 should allow the work undertaken by the French Presidency to be continued as part of the trio of presidencies it constitutes along with the Czech and Swedish presidencies. These latter will, in particular, have to continue the implementation of the roadmap adopted by the Heads of State and Government for an entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon by the end of 2009. The European Council of December 2008 agreed, for one part, that if the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, a decision will be taken to allow the Commission to retain a member from each Member State. It also agreed that the necessary guarantees be issued to respond to the concerns expressed by the Irish people on taxation policy, the family, social issues and the security and defence policy. Lastly, and subject to the follow-up work stipulated for these issues being satisfactorily completed by mid-2009, the Irish government committed itself to seeking the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon between now and the end of the mandate of the current Commission.

Having successfully experimented with political and institutional practices more in line with the requirements of a new world, the European Union is well-placed to assume its global responsibilities with clarity and ambition, while defending and promoting the values that have inspired it since its inception. United, it can better protect the interests of European citizens and make Europe's voice better heard in the world.

  • Updated: 08.01.2009
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