An EK expert describes France as seeking a stronger role for the state as a supporter of industry.
France has begun its six-month term as EU presidency. As a large member, France is expected to take a strong lead.
As such, the presidency does not give extra power to dictate EU decisions, but the task is nonetheless prominent. For example, the presidency speaks at many meetings of the Council of Member States.
France has outlined the strengthening of the European Union as the overarching theme of its term. It wants to pay attention to issues such as migration, Schengen rules and border security. Defense issues are expected to be strongly present during the French period.
From the large pieces of legislation to the negotiations between the EU institutions, the Digital Markets Act is advancing. There are also numerous presentations in the wheelchair of the legislative machinery.
The fact that presidential elections will be held in France in the spring will add to its period of excitement.
Interesting is the kind of economic debate that will take place during the French period. France has painted a new model for economic growth in the EU and plans to hold an extraordinary summit on economic issues in March.
Leading expert of the Confederation of Finnish Industries Janica Ylikarjula describes that France has pursued an active industrial policy in which the state has a major role to play, for example in paying aid.
The idea is that a strong EU internal market and a well-functioning trade policy would no longer be enough to compete globally, but would require other means from states.
Ylikarjula estimates that the French view has recently resonated more than before. One reason is the resignation of Britain, which strongly defended the market liberal line, from the EU.
“This is a direction that has been going on for a long time. Now it has strengthened when the British have left and the corona situation has been on, ”says Ylikarjula.
In Finland, adherence to fair competition rules has been considered important. A small member state would quickly lose out in a business support competition to big countries with much more opportunities to pump money into their industry.
Ylikarjula anticipates that the future of EU debt rules will also be closely discussed during the French term.
The Commission has launched a consultation on the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact. The debate is expected to move forward during the spring.
Ylikarjula points out that there is a broad consensus on the need for reform, but the views of the member states differ on concrete measures.
“The current agreement has lost its credibility even before the interest rate crisis, and a full return to it would not be a good thing,” Ylikarjula sums up.
For example, increasing flexibility in the rules in the name of green investment focusing on climate action has emerged.
Under Christmas Financial Times in an interview with the Vice-President of the Commission Valdis Dombrovskis however, called for balance. According to him, in addition to encouraging green investment, credible trajectories for debt reduction should be provided.
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