Incoming French EU Council Presidency Pushes Forward Digital, Climate & Social Policy
From 1 January until 30 June 2022, France is holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). During its six-months term, France seeks to push for joint EU responses to the major societal challenges, in particular the public health crisis, climate change, the digital transition and global geopolitics. All this with a focus on a current EU buzzword: Making the EU more assertive on the world stage and achieving greater “strategic autonomy”.
The 76-pages programme of the Presidency details three priority ambitions that may appear rather vague and cryptical: “Recovery, Strength and a Sense of Belonging”. Under these headlines, however, the French intend to broker progress on EU policy and regulatory files that will have significant impact on European companies, as well businesses and governments outside the EU.
A (non-exhaustive) list of highlights in different policy fields is provided below.
Should you require assistance in assessing the impact of specific policy and regulatory initiatives on your organisation and in considering your options to have your interests represented, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers and policy advisors at Acquis EU Law & Policy.
- GENERAL AFFAIRS
- Regulate online political advertising.
- ECONOMICS & FINANCE
Recovery & Growth
- Ensure full deployment of the recovery plan throughout Member States.
- Continue work on a coordinated strategy for investment and structural reforms.
- Advance review of the EU’s economic governance framework (green and digital transitions).
- Launch discussions on the targeted revision of the EU Financial Regulation.
- Steer creation of new own resources geared towards climate transition.
Financing Future Growth
- Advance Council negotiations on banking and insurance prudential regulation (Solvency II & Basel III).
- Achieve progress on Capital Markets Union (single access point for financial and non-financial information, long-term investment funds framework & review of Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive).
- Support work on deepening the Banking Union.
Building a Responsible, Sustainable Capitalism
- Achieve progress on environmental legislative proposals presented by Commission in July 2021 (focus on Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism).
- Take forward writing into EU law the agreement on Pillar Two (taxation) reached with OECD in October 2021.
- Continue work on proposed Energy Taxation Directive.
- Prepare a first appraisal of the reform of e-commerce VAT
- Make Europe a leader in sustainable finance (including by adopting green bond standard).
- Prioritise the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
- Achieve maximum possible progress in regulating digital finance (Regulation on Markets in Crypto-Assets/ MiCA & Digital Operational Resilience Act for the Financial Sector/ DORA).
- Push for the creation of a European supervisory authority to cover anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing & revision of rules on transfers of funds (focus on traceability of crypto-assets, due diligence and harmonised internal control requirements).
- DIGITAL, ENERGY & TRANSPORT
Digital & Technology
- Promote introduction of horizontal framework for easier access, storage and sharing of high-quality data.
- Core focus: Cybersecurity; in particular negotiations on the NIS Directive.
- Continue examining the Regulation laying down harmonised rules on Artificial Intelligence.
- Continue work on the ePrivacy Regulation (respect for private life & protection of personal data in electronic communications).
- Begin work on the Data Act.
- Continue work on creating a European digital identity.
- Begin review of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive.
- Support development of the European cloud infrastructure and services through the common European interest on next-generation cloud infrastructure.
- Strengthen EU cooperation based on the digital policy programme proposed by the Commission.
- Advance discussions on the renewable energy and energy efficiency directives.
- Begin discussions on revision of the Directive on the energy performance of buildings.
- Revise the Regulation on conditions for access to decarbonised gas transmission networks, including hydrogen.
- Revise the directive regulating decarbonised gas markets.
- Initiate discussions on the proposed regulation on methane emissions in the energy sector.
- Ensure that EU regulations remain consistent with development of nuclear energy [note: this is currently controversially discussed among the Member States].
- Continue work on the Green Deal’s “Fit for 55” package, including:
- the proposed Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR);
- the proposed “FuelEU Maritime” Regulation;
- the proposed “ReFuelEU Aviation”
- Start work on the “efficient and green mobility” legislative package.
- Begin negotiations on the review of the Regulation on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TENT).
- Revise the Intelligent Transport Systems.
- Prepare submissions to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), including proposals for medium-term measures to decarbonise shipping.
- Continue reform of the single European sky regulations.
- INTERNAL MARKET & INDUSTRY
- Advance talks on Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) in view of regulation of digital content and online marketplaces, as well as economic regulation of major digital platforms.
- Contribute to an upcoming proposal to enhance legislation on consumer information on the environmental features of products and unfair commercial practices.
- Increase the contribution of procurement to the digital and green transition.
- Continue with revision of the Consumer Credit Directive.
- Begin discussions on revision of Directive on Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services.
- Advance talks on Machinery Regulation.
- Start work on legislative proposal to establish a harmonised framework for access to in-vehicle data.
- Consider new European emissions standard for all pollutants, except CO2, for the placing on the market of new vehicles (Euro 7).
- Begin work on the European Chips Act once published by the Commission.
- Advance discussions on proposed regulation on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market.
- Institute talks on the proposed regulation on short-term rentals.
- AGRICULTURE & FORESTRY
- Encourage discussions on reciprocal environmental and health production standards for EU products and products imported from third countries.
- Launch work on the regulation on deforestation-free imports.
- Develop a mechanism to introduce EU-wide low-carbon labels and compensate climate change actions taken by farms and forestry holdings.
- Launch revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive.
- Advance revision of the EU’s agricultural product promotion policy.
Towards a Decarbonised Economy
- Advance negotiations on the “Fit for 55” package aimed at implementing in all economic sectors the ambition of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
- In particular, continue revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the Effort Sharing Regulation, and the contribution of the land sector and forestry (LULUCF).
- Continue work on implementation of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.
- Push forward the Regulation on CO2 emission performance standards for vehicles.
- Achieve maximum progress in negotiations on proposed Regulation on deforestation-free products.
- Begin discussions on draft regulation to establish a legal framework on the restoration of healthy ecosystems.
- Speed up negotiations on the Batteries Regulation.
- Continue revision of the Regulation on transboundary waste shipments.
- Begin negotiations on the Sustainable Products Initiative, including a number of legislative proposals.
- Follow up on the Commission’s Strategy for sustainable textiles.
- Beginning work on the revision of the Ozone Regulation and the Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
- Continue work on persistent organic pollutants.
- EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL AFFAIRS, HEALTH & CONSUMERS
- Conclude negotiations on the legislative package to build a “European Health Union”.
- Push for progress on building a common industrial policy for health.
- Open negotiations on the proposal for the European Health Data Space.
- Prepare the revision of the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation.
Employment, Social Affairs and Equity
- Begin negotiations on the proposed Directive on adequate minimum wages in the EU.
- Initiate discussions on proposed Directive on improving the working conditions of people working through digital labour platforms.
- Advance negotiations on the proposed Directive on strengthening the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work, or work of equal value, between men and women.
- Advance discussions on the proposed Directive on improving gender balance on company boards.
- TRADE & FOREIGN AFFAIRS
- Further strengthen the contribution of trade policy to EU prosperity and sovereignty.
- Continue work on WTO reform and on full inclusion of sustainable development in WTO rules.
- Drive forward revision of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
- Support the revision of the approach to sustainable development in trade agreements.
- Support the instrument to combat imported deforestation.
- Support the initiative on sustainable corporate governance.
- Ensure that imported products are subject to EU manufacturing standards.
- Moving forward with the Regulation on International Procurement Instrument & Regulation on Protection from Economic Coercion by third countries.
- Lead work to protect EU citizens from effects of extra-territorial application of certain legislation adopted by third countries, including by amending the Blocking Statute.
- Renew the EU-Africa partnership with a focus on public health (vaccine production, recovery), energy and digital infrastructure, trade, crisis management, mobility and migration.
- Implement the EU Strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific with a focus on defence & security, digital & connectivity (Global Gateway Initiative) and global infrastructure (health, climate, biodiversity, oceans).
- Strengthen cooperation focused on the Energy Council, Trade & Technology Council (TTC) and dialogue on China and Indo-Pacific.
- Further aim for a united & strategic EU approach towards Russia.
- Continue to implement the EU approach towards China.
- Implement agreed measures to promote a more sustainable, ecological, stable and prosperous Southern Neighbourhood.
- Reinforce resilience, stability and sustainable connectivity.
- Foster regional cooperation and stability.
- Strive for endorsement of the European Strategic Compass by EU leaders in March and ensure implementation.
- Prepare Council’s position on the initiatives within the Defence Package.
- Contribute to implementation of the roadmap on critical technologies & the reduction of strategic dependencies.
- Expand cooperation on security & defence, in particular with the UN, the US, Africa and the Indo-Pacific.
- JUSTICE & HOME AFFAIRS
Security for Citizens
- Negotiate with Parliament on the resilience of critical entities for the protection of critical infrastructure.
- Continue work on recasting the NIS Directive on the protection of digital infrastructure.
EU Values & Judicial Cooperation
- Support the proposal to extend the list of offences covered by Article 83 TFEU regarding hate speech and hate crime.
- Advance negotiations on the proposed revision of the Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law.