France has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the EU for 6 months, starting from 1 January 2022. The priorities of the French Presidency revolve around 3 main areas:
- Digital technology: economic regulation and accountability of platforms, namely with regard to hate speech, with legislation on digital services and markets;
- Ecological transition: establishment of carbon pricing at the EU borders for imported products;
- Social: establishment of European legislation on minimum wages and on working conditions on digital platforms.
The social agenda of the French Presidency focuses on the issues of:
- Gender equality
A particular attention will be paid to the economic empowerment of women and the effective achievement of gender equality, which will be the topic of a ministerial conference on 31 January. It will seek to advance the issue of gender equality by leading the inter-institutional negotiations on the proposal for a directive to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women.
It will also propose conclusions to the Council on gender-based violence, as part of the European Union’s monitoring of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
The Presidency will organise a ministerial conference at the beginning of March, to reflect on the means of action to strengthen the socio-economic participation and access to rights of people with disabilities. This initiative will be held in the framework of the European strategy for people with disabilities 2021-2030.
The French Presidency wishes to consolidate the Europe of health. To that end, it will support the debate towards a genuine Public Health Union building on the legislative package “Building a Europe of Health”, presented in November 2020 by the European Commission.
The prevention and fight against cancer, antibiotic resistance, and mental health are all subjects that France wishes to address during its presidency and which will be covered during ministerial conferences.
Aware that social policies must address all ages of life, the French Presidency will encourage exchanges on children’s access to essential services, on the mental health of vulnerable young people and on the prevention of loss of autonomy.
A ministerial conference “Preventing the loss of autonomy: for a better cooperation on the issue of falls of senior citizens” will be organized on 27 January, to which AGE Secretary General, Maciej Kucharczyk, has been invited to speak. We will take the opportunity of the conference to place the theme of autonomy and independent living for older people in a broader context of promoting age equality throughout life.
Finally, the French Presidency will address the issues of lifelong learning on the occasion of the Tripartite Social Summit, to support the changes linked to the digital and climate transitions.
Start of a new Trio Presidency
After France, the Czech Republic will take up the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2022, followed by Sweden in the first half of 2023. These three countries form a trio of presidencies, which agreed on a shared programme for the next 18 months.
The thematic priorities of this shared programme include a focus on a greener and more socially equitable Europe that better protects the health of Europeans. The programme also reiterates the European Union’s commitment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social consequences. Other priorities are:
- Protect citizens and freedoms, by focusing on respecting and protecting European values – democracy, rule of law, gender equality, etc. – and on strengthening both the Schengen area and our common asylum and migration policy;
- Promote a new growth and investment model for Europe, based on sustainable green growth and on strengthening the EU’s industrial and digital sovereignty;
- A global Europe that promotes multilateralism and renewed international partnerships, while adopting a shared vision among the 27 Member States regarding strategic threats.
We hope this new EU Trio Presidency will build on the achievements of the previous German, Portuguese, and Slovenian Trio and will pursue their commitment to addressing ageing through the lens of human rights and mainstreaming it across EU policies.