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France took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Momchil Baev

What about France's priorities in the areas of climate, health, geopolitics and their implementation in Bulgaria?

The priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Bulgarian perspective were discussed at a conference organized by PanEurope Bulgaria and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation – Bulgaria in partnership with the Embassy of France in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute and the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria. The event was held on January 20, 2022 in Sofia.

The Ambassador of France H.R. Florence Robin presented the Presidency’s vision in the areas of climate and ecology, health and social policy, geopolitics and security, as well as the European model for economic growth and competitiveness.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodora Genchovska emphasized the challenges facing the Union and the readiness of the Bulgarian side for a constructive dialogue with the partners and the Presidency on the upcoming reforms.

The traditional presentation of the priorities of the rotating Presidency of the Council was symbolically enriched with illumination of the National Palace of Justice with the colors of the flags of Bulgaria, France and the EU.

Photo from the event, credit: PanEuropa

In the conference took part Theodora Genchovska Minister of Foreign Affairs; Tsvetan Kyulanov – Prof. Chairman of the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria; H.E. Florence Robin – Ambassador of France to Bulgaria; Andrzej Franges – Ambassador of Slovenia to Bulgaria, Gergana Passy, President of PanEurope – Bulgaria Foundation and Thorsten Giessler, Chair of the Bureau of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Bulgaria;

France, the Czech Republic and Sweden, who take over the Presidency in the next year and a half, have agreed a common agenda to overcome Europe’s shock by implementing the Recovery and Development Plan and investing in the green and digital transition. They are also determined to uphold the rights of EU citizens, common values, the rule of law and fundamental rights of all.

“The pandemic is entering a new phase, which will be very difficult. The question remains whether the weather will be peaceful,” Thorston Geisler said in his welcome. He added that France has always been an advocate for people’s rights, democracy and the rule of law.

In his address, H.E. Florence Robin stressed that the French Presidency is coming into a complex health situation with the coronavirus, but with which the EU has managed to cope collectively. The important numbers are: 70% of the EU population is vaccinated, 80% of adults in the EU are vaccinated. The EU has shown solidarity in this task, not only within the borders of the Union, but beyond by exporting more than EUR 1 billion. within the CoVax mechanism. Faced with this crisis, the EU has proposed an unprecedented solidarity solution to tackle – the Next Generation EU Recovery and Economic Support Plan, which is a real opportunity to transform European economies and make them resilient to crises, especially against climate challenges.

“I can’t help but highlight the worrying geopolitical situation we are in and we will have to deal with it in the coming months and years,” Ambassador Robin concluded in his opening speech, then detailed the priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU

SLOGAN: Upsurge, Strength, Affiliation

  1. UPTURN – creating a new European growth model . A more competitive and social European Union. “We are convinced that the EU must offer its own economic and social model, as we do not have the same history and culture as our major international partners. The way we realize our economies while also protecting our social model, personal data and our environment is unique. This model must not only be preserved and protected from external attacks, but must also be strengthened. In this regard, climate transition, digital transition and strengthening social protection will be the main objectives of our Presidency”, said Ambassador Robin. 
  2. A more sovereign Europe. A Europe that has control over its borders and which is capable of acting on defence and security issues. “We will contribute to the stability and prosperity of our neighbors, especially through our engagement in the Western Balkans and our renewed relations with Africa, as well as with the future in the Indo-Pacific region in mind,” Ambassador Robin continued.
  3. MEMBERSHIP – the third pillar of the Presidency. “This is a human Europe that promotes its humanistic values underpithe foundations of our model. a Europe that is close to its citizens, which will be a topic of conference on the future of Europe”. The rule of law, freedom of speech, combating violence against women and youth are also part of the objectives. The European Year of Youth 2022 will work on introducing a 6-month European Civil Service open to all young people up to 25 years old, whatever their situation. A path of youth mobility will be opened to mark the 35th anniversary of the Erasmus programme and european universities will also be promoted. 

Focus on key issues and important legislative texts

Climate and environment

Climate issues: Fit for 55Carbon border adjustment mechanism, EU ETC.

“Our goal is (and we are convinced that this is realistic and even necessary) to match true environmental ambition with economic development and social justice. The European Union is the first economic and political bloc in the world to set climate neutrality for a target by 2050.”, ambassador Robin said, adding that progress will be made within the Presidency on texts that are bound by the Fit for 55 package and in particular on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism,  EU ETC). Work will also be carried out on the issue of decarbonisation of transport and housing, ensure that climate and biodiversity targets are better incorporated into EU trade policy, and pursue progress in the fight against imported deforestation, biodiversity and oceans.

United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) - Credit: EPA-EFE / ROBERT PERRY

Здраве и социална политика

On health as a priority of the French Presidency, Ambassador Robin said: “For two years now, the COVID-19 crisis  has shown us that we  need to be united on the issue of health. Our desire is to build a European Health Union by promoting speed of response, coordination and solidarity.” In this direction, the establishment of the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority will be supported.  “

With regard to the COVID-19 crisis, surprisingly,  the French Presidency does not propose any concrete initiatives or measures, which would be expected to be a central priority given the scale of the consequences of   the pandemic.  these indicators.

Vaccination Center - Lyon, France - Credit: Nicolas Liponne - Hans LucasGetty Images

The other priority of the Presidency will be the socialist politician.  “The model we support should also promote our social model by giving skilled and well-paid jobs. This Presidency will allow us to advance many different projects in this area. First, finalising the Minimum Wage Directive in Europe. We will also work for gender equality, thanks, in particular, to the Pay Transparency Directive and the Directive on the introduction of quotas for women on the boards of large enterprises. ” Said Ambassador Robin in this regard.

Geopolitics and Security

With regard to EU security, Ambassador Robin presented the actions envisaged under the Presidency, which are:

  • Reform of the Schengen area. “Various crises have weakened this area, which is at the heart of the European project.  The reform includes political management of external border controls, but also the establishment of an intergovernmental mechanism for border support in the event of a crisis. We would like to continue our work in the fight against channel networks and work with countries  of origin and transit under the Migration and Asylum Pact. ” said N. Pr.  Robin.
  • defence and strategic autonomy of the Union. “Very important legislative texts will be discussed during these six months. First and for all is the EU Strategic Compass, which is a White Paper on European Defence and Security, which will present the state of threats to our countries.  This strategic compass will be the subject of discussions in March and will be an occasion to create a common European position with a view to the next Summit in    because we believe that it underpins Europe’s strategic (including technological) autonomy. We would like to develop a common culture of intervention, so we will continue to work on the European Intervention Initiative. “
  • Partnerships with Africa, western Balkans, Indo-Pacific region. “Faced with new tensions that already exist in the Western Balkans region, we are convinced of the need for stronger EU engagement in the region if we are to build a Europe of peace in the coming years. This will be the theme of the conference we are organising in June, 2022 and which will be preparatory for the Czech Presidency  Summit (e. From June to December 2022) This conference will be an opportunity to promote the economic integration of this region, to develop people-to-people contacts, especially among the young, and to work for security in the Western Balkans. In the same vein, we would like to renew our alliance with Africa. This continent is so close to us – on the other side of the Mediterranean and is so important for security. That is why we would like to highlight ambitious and structural projects,  based on new investments – a real new deal between Africa and the EU. The French Presidency is fully committed to the implementation of the European strategy, which has been adopted for the Indo-Pacific region. ” said Ambassador Robin.


Another priority of the current French Presidency will be the digital transition, whose “aim is to make the EU a true global digital power to be shaped according to our own rules and values”, according to N. Pr. Robin. “We will promote innovation while confronting participants and platforms with their responsibilities. Therefore, we would like to create a European market regulation model known as DMA and DSA – the Digital Markets Regulation Act and the Digital Services Regulation Act. They will be part of the EU agenda in the coming months.”

The European agenda in the coming months

The One Ocean Summit in Brest (France), to be held on 11 and 12 February 2022, is due to take place in the coming months.

Other events are the Forum “A New European Model for Development and Investment” in Brest (France) on 10 and 11 March 2022.  and the Western Balkans Conference to be held in June 2022.

The French Presidency and Bulgaria

Environment and Climate

In connection with the French Presidency, two seminars on air quality are organized in Bulgaria, organized together with the Bulgarian municipalities. The first will be divided into two parts, the first taking place in March and dealing with political and strategic issues, and the second, later in the spring, with pragmatic and specific issues. The events will be organized together with the Bulgarian municipalities.

The second seminar will examine the green urban areas in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Sofia Municipality. “This will allow you to explore the possibilities of building a green city in the future.”, commented Ambassador Robin.

With regard to other strategic issues, the French Presidency organized in Bulgaria a seminar on “Europe of Security” in partnership with the Sofia Security Forum.


In the field of culture and public life, together with the French Institute in Bulgaria, the event “Night of Ideas” is held on 27.01.2022 under the motto “(Re)construire ensemble”. Events on freedom of the press are also being prepared, one of which is on 15 February 2022 on the topic “Is there European journalism”, again at the French Institute. On April 10, an event will be held on the topic “Balance of power in a democratic society between media, political power and finance”.

On 5 March, the “Coffee Europe” event is being prepared, which will be held in all EU countries. It will present coffees as historical places in French and European culture. They are places for reading the press and so the two themes will be tied in the context of different historical cafes that are part of modern history. In Sofia the event will be held in “Pero” in the National Palace of Culture.

Ambassador Robin concluded his statement with an excerpt from a speech by Victor Hugo to the Congress of Peace on August 21, 1849: “There will come a day when the weapons will fall out of your hands. There will come a day when all of you peoples on the continent, without losing your distinctive qualities and glorious individuality, will merge into one and make up the European brotherhood. There will come a day when there will be no battlefields other than markets open to trade and minds open to ideas. There will come a day when grenades and bombs will be replaced by the voices of the electorate and universal suffrage.”

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