France: Commentator discusses rotating EU presidency
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France 24’s Douglas Herbert has argued that France’s takeover of the rotating presidency of the European Union is perfect timing for Emmanuel Macron’s election hopes. The French President faces a likely run-off race to stay in the Champs-Elysees after April’s elections. Mr Herbert believes the EU presidency will allow President Macron to project the image that France is punching above its weight diplomatically.
Mr Herbert told France 24: “Coming at this particular time his presidency and rotating presidency for six months, it’s manna from heaven for Emmanuel Macron, a candidate who ran as a staunch europhile in 2017.
“And he is eager to do anything really where he has an opportunity to put both France front and centre on that European stage and to basically have a showcase in which he can put forward all the views that he has been become known for as president that is a proponent of a more powerful and a more sovereign Europe on the world stage.
“He believes that 2022 as we heard is going to be a turning point for Europe.
“And look, let’s you know, we have to be honest with ourselves Europe has been in many cases disarray, a lot of different policies, and there have been centrifugal forces if you will, pulling away at the seams pulling Europe apart at times.”
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He continued: “Emmanuel Macron has been trying and it’s been sort of the centrepiece of his presidency has been trying to bring Europe back together to sort of find its centre of gravity.
“He has an ambitious agenda, as he said, and it ranges from things like a block-wide that is an EU wide minimum wage, trying to institute that trying to crack down and better regulate the tech giants the so-called the gafas.
“Trying to institute a carbon tax at Europe’s borders, imposing penalties on those who would import energies or their products that are highly polluting or even moderately polluting, reforming the free movement zone, the Schengen space and Europe’s external borders.
“And even if you want to go further changing, reforming the budget rules, I mean, it is an extremely you could say over-ambitious agenda.”
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Mr Herbert added: “He obviously is not going to get all of that done, but look France always whether it’s Macron or another president love to be sort of seen or give the impression of being a country that is front and centre on the diplomatic stage.
“Having an influential some would say an outsized role in world diplomacy, even if that doesn’t gel with what a lot of people think really practice actual real-life power is on the world stage.
“France does love to be seen as being activist and go-getting when it comes to global diplomacy.
“So like you said this could not come at a better time for Emmanuel Macron as he gears up for those presidential elections, which he has all but certain to run for four months time.”
The French President said on Friday he will continue to serve France “whatever my role” after the presidential election that takes place in April 2022.
Speaking in a televised New Year’s Eve address to the nation, Mr Macron gave no clear hint on whether he would run for a second term.
Mr Macron’s aides have already unofficially launched preparations for his campaign.
During his address, the French leader said France will face “major choices” in the coming year.
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