French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen during the European Council on June 23, 2022, in Brussels (Belgium). POOL / REUTERS
For six months, more than a thousand diplomats and other civil servants devoted themselves tirelessly to it. With the approach of June 30 and the end of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (PFUE), a real relief was perceptible at the Elysée, at Matignon, at the Quai d’Orsay, in the administrations of the various ministries and of course at the French Embassy to the European Union (EU), where nearly 290 men and women spared no effort.
“France can be proud” of its presidency, commented Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, at the end of the European Council of June 23 and 24, at the end of which Ukraine obtained the status of candidate for entry into the EU. That same day, his counterpart in the European Council, Charles Michel, also hailed the “gigantic work carried out”.
Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Macron’s electoral setbacks cast doubt on the leadership he claims within the EU
France, whose last rotating presidency dated back to 2008, had been preparing for a long time: the first meeting bringing together the government on the subject was held in Matignon, then still occupied by Edouard Philippe, in November 2019. released a budget of 140 million euros for the occasion, which made it possible to bring Europe to life in France on the occasion of more than 400 events, including the Versailles summit, the 10 and 11 march. “It couldn’t be as much as Germany, but we wanted it to be a more flamboyant presidency than that of Finland, where everything happened in a hangar near Helsinki airport”, one comments. at Matignon.
“A united, sovereign Europe”
The stakes were high for Emmanuel Macron, who put Europe at the heart of his action: the president had wanted to maintain the PFUE calendar despite the presidential and legislative elections. Be that as it may, the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and the return of war to Europe changed the course of events. “The Europe of June 2022 is very different from that of January 2022”, commented Mr. Macron, in Brussels, on June 24. Before congratulating himself: “The war has only validated our agenda for European sovereignty”, the very one he presented in his speech at the Sorbonne in September 2017.
Since February 24, the Europeans have unanimously adopted six packages of sanctions, they have also implemented military, financial and humanitarian aid to kyiv in record time. They have also made progress on issues that are dear to Paris, which were still meeting with a great deal of resistance from the four corners of the continent. After the Covid-19 crisis which showed the Twenty-Seven the interest of setting up a Europe of health, the conflict which is taking place at the gates of the EU has convinced them to be more united against Moscow, to work together on a less embryonic foreign policy and to coordinate more effectively in matters of defence. Even if the war in Ukraine has reinforced the weight of NATO and underlined the difference between the countries of the East which are in favor of unconditional support for Ukraine and those of the West which, like Paris, did not want to cut ties with Vladimir Putin.
You have 55.87% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.