The French prepare for the EU Presidency with plenty on the table

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The French prepare for the EU Presidency with plenty on the table

The French prepare for the EU Presidency with plenty on the table
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Jean-Pierre Jouyet is the French Minister for European affairs. He is currently preparing for when France takes over the EU’s rotating presidency on the 1st of July. It is a crucial time for the French and the EU as it will be France that guides the union through the ratification process of the Treaty of Lisbon. There are a number of issues on the agenda, apart from the environment and energy issues, the EU will have to deal with the important and difficult issues of agriculture, trade, immigration and Turkey.

EuroNews: “Minister welcome to EuroNews, what do you feel are the priorities of the French presidency…in terms of European policy and do you feel the Treaty of Lisbon will be ratified?”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “Hello, firstly, thank you for inviting me onto EuroNews it is an important European channel. What we would like is to get Europe into a position to be able to answer the challenges , which are common to all 27 member states, improving the environment , energy security and an immigration policy, which takes into account Europe’s immigration deficit, while also ensuring better border controls. We know that there is a crunch referendum in Ireland in June. We have every confidence in the Irish leaders and the Irish people.

EuroNews: “Is there a plan B?”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “There is no plan B. If the Irish vote “no” we go back to the point of departure…I mean we have a sound base that allows us to govern Europe effectively.”

EuroNews: “So the agenda you talk about requires a Europe with a treaty that allows it to function smoothly. What about the Common Agricultural Policy do intend to reform it?”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “I believe it is our ambition to modernise it…we feel the Common Agricultural Policy is essential for the future of Europe and to address the inbalances between supply and demand. We will let the market take its course, but we will ensure the essentials are protected.”

EuroNews: And what are the community preferences.

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “We’d prefer to talk about new preferences…what we want is an equal playing field for European products compared to US products or products from Australia and New Zealand.”

EuroNews: “Is there a willingness to unblock Doha, you spoke of poor countries, but there are emerging economies everywhere.”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “Yes, yes, you are right there is a willingness to unblock Doha, for the moment we have a balanced agreement we cannot move on Doha if we only talk about agriculture, this is fear of the Irish, it is not possible to have an agreement that just talks about sacrifice in terms of agriculture. And from this point of view France and Ireland hold the same views.”

EuroNews: “You already have relationships with emerging nations and less developed countries..what do you feel about the Mediterranean Union?”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “Myself, I welcome this new agreement it is important that all 27 states agree to it and we will do nothing in the south or the east that divides Europe. However, what happens in the East or Central Asia or south of the Mediterranean is also important for European stability..therefore we must have the policies for enhanced cooperation with countries East of the Mediterranean… geo-politically it is very important, as you know..we also have neighbourhood policy that are proving effective in the East.”

EuroNews: “Do you think the issue of immigration is fundamental for the Mediterranean and especially the Mediterranean countries…do you think it has caused tensions in the EU between the north and the south as a result?”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “It is true that immigration is an important issue for the Mediterranean, but these days the Maghreb countries are seeing African immigrants crossing their land to get to Tangier or Gibraltar..but there are other problems connected to immigration.”

EuroNews: “In your opinion do we need a supranational Europe or an intergovernmental one?

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “We have to find the balance between European intergration and cooperation between governments…We must preserve the diversity of Europe while at the same time forge a European identity…Europe thrives on its differences..we cannot be to dogmatic therefore I believe the Treaty of Lisbon strikes a good balance.”

EuroNews: “Yet many of the challenges spoken about here need to be taken at a community level and less so at national or regional levels.”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “No, but the community method is a good method it has proved its worth and we must continue to strengthen it. The fact that in the Treaty of Lisbon you have enlargement decisions taken by qualified majority develops community spirit. The general rule is anything that is economic and social reinforces that spirit, but in areas of sovereignty, which is related to defence or foreign policy, then one must take care it could mean peace or war then you have to take into account the sensitivities of individual governments.”

EuroNews: “What about Turkey will they have problems during the French presidency from the point of view of entry negotiations.”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “No absolutely not, you know France’s position, but France will assume its duty as EU president as it relates to Turkey we will be objective, impartial, fair and balanced.”

EuroNews: “And yet the Turks fear the French presidency because of the negative statements about their membership coming from Paris and Berlin.”

Jean-Pierre Jouyet: “I have just returned from Ankara and I think I have made the role of the French presidency clear and have reassured our Turkish friends.”