Macron stresses France’s priorities during its EU presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday, on the occasion of France’s start of the European Union presidency.

During the meeting, the latest details of the French agenda for the presidency of the Union were discussed. The two sides also discussed the priorities of the French presidency, including reforms in the Schengen area and the pressing threats to the old continent, including the epidemiological situation and geopolitical tensions, especially in Ukraine.

France assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union for a period of 6 months on the first of January.

The overriding theme of the French presidency – over the next six months – will be the need for greater autonomy for the 27-nation bloc.

Macron has been championing the idea since taking power five years ago, and will use the rotating presidency of the European Union Council, which sets the region’s political agenda, to try to implement it.

Among the main topics that Paris wants to promote are the introduction of the European Union’s minimum wage, a carbon tax on imported products, and reform of the union’s fiscal rules.

Paris also wants to speed up discussions among member states to reach consensus on the stalled reform of the bloc’s asylum system.

Kazakhstan crisis

During the meeting, the two sides called for an end to the violence sweeping Kazakhstan, and von der Leyen said, “Citizens’ rights and security are essential to be guaranteed, and I call for an end to violence and restraint.”

The European official announced the EU’s readiness to “help if possible” and Macron expressed his full agreement with her comments.

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