François Hollande positive at the european summit

Article published on July 2, 2014
Article published on July 2, 2014

At 6.30 p.m. on 27th June, Fran­çois Hol­lande held a press con­fer­ence to take stock of the Eu­ro­pean sum­mit which named Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion. He gives his thoughts on the topic, explaining this nom­i­na­tion and the man­date which has been en­trusted to the new head of the EU ex­ec­u­tive.

"This is an im­por­tant Coun­cil"; so be­gins Fran­çois Hol­lande's speech. After al­lud­ing to the peace that is now  reign­ing on the Eu­ro­pean con­ti­nent, he stresses the im­por­tance of Jean-Claude Juncker's nom­i­na­tion, draw­ing at­ten­tion to the man­date with which he has been en­trusted. In ad­di­tion, the dif­fer­ent heads of State also dis­cussed other sub­jects such as the prepa­ra­tion un­der­way for the cli­mate con­fer­ence which will take place in Paris at the end of 2015 and the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine, as well as the de­sire to launch a global im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy 'to pro­tect Eu­rope's bor­ders.'  

Let's start by re­vis­it­ing Ukraine: the French Pres­i­dent drew at­ten­tion to the progress achieved by the sum­mit as well as the im­por­tant role played by the the French-Ger­man partern­ship in the de­ci­sion mak­ing process, in par­tic­u­lar by cre­at­ing 'guar­an­tees on ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion'. François Hol­lan­de has given himself a pat on the back on nu­mer­ous oc­cas­sions and seems de­ter­mined to take charge of de­fus­ing the Ukraine sit­u­a­tion and to see this pro­ject though to the end. 

As re­gards the nom­i­na­tion of Jean-Claude Juncker,  it is, in the eyes of François Hol­lande, a com­pletely log­i­cal choice; 'we re­spected the let­ter and the spirit of the the treaties'. He goes on to stress that 'David Cameron was in a del­i­cate po­si­tion', and the French Pres­i­dent does not mince his words: 'there was no choice when it came to the can­di­date; the party which came first would have the right to name the can­di­ate of the next Com­mis­sion'. He is there­fore in­di­rectly con­demn­ing the po­si­tion of the British Prime Min­is­ter by stress­ing that it was not a le­git­i­mate one. In terms of the ma­ndate with which the new pres­i­dent has been en­trusted, François Hol­lande is of the opin­ion that it is the most im­por­tant point of the Coun­cil. In his speech, he no­tably went on to un­der­line the dif­fer­ent tar­get pri­or­i­ties: in first place, growth and em­ploy­ment, with the French Pres­i­dent count­ing on 'the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the SGP (Sta­bil­ity and Growth Pact) and its full flexibility'. The sec­ond pri­or­ity is sup­port for in­vest­ments: The Eu­ro­pean Union must 'mo­bilise its fi­nan­cial re­sources to in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture, in sup­port for SMEs', which would re­quire mak­ing use of the EIB (Eu­ro­pean In­vest­ment Bank), Struc­tural Funds and pro­ject bonds. Thirdly, Fran­çois Hol­lande fo­cused on em­ploy­ment for young peo­ple, with a good num­ber of promises such as, for ex­am­ple, greater fi­nan­cial com­mitt­ment. Let's just hope that this turns out to be the case. Next up was com­mon en­ergy pol­icy, con­sid­ered es­sen­tial in today's climate in light of com­pet­i­tivity con­straints. Fi­nally, the most del­i­cate sub­ject of all: im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. The Coun­cil wants a truly global im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, 'more co­or­di­na­tion and a proac­tive ap­proach are needed', stresses Fran­çois Hol­lande. He ap­pears sat­is­fied with the man­date and op­ti­mistic about these pri­or­i­ties; it re­mains to be seen whether this pos­i­tive at­ti­tude will last.  

The speech comes to an end with a mes­sage in­tended for David Cameron, touching upon his vi­sion of Eu­rope. Fran­çois Hol­lande seems un­der­stand­ing of the fact that Eu­rope must evolve and become multi-speed in na­ture, but at the same time he con­demns the United King­dom's de­sire to dis­tance it­self from the Eu­ro­pean Union, point­ing out that even if the for­mer's in­ter­ests have 'not (been) re­spected' this time, there is no right to a veto, and no fun­da­men­tal in­ter­est. Fi­nally, his clos­ing words are again marked by the same op­ti­mism: 'A more ac­tive, more pro­tec­tive, more united Eu­rope; this mes­sage has been in­cor­po­rated into the man­date.'

Now it's over to the jour­nal­ists, get ready Mon­sieur Hol­lande! Even though the Pres­i­dent got away with pro­ducing some high-class waf­fle in an­swer to most of the ques­tions put to him by the jour­nal­ists, some in­for­ma­tion nev­er­the­less man­aged to slip out. Be­tween the promises about the fight against un­em­ploy­ment, the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship be­tween the EU and the United King­dom, the flex­i­bil­ity of the SGP, the issue of a 'super com­mis­sioner' and the fu­ture make-up of the Com­mis­sion, the jour­nal­ists had a field day. We can be sure that the com­po­si­tion of the Com­mis­sion is being kept se­cret, and will re­main so until the last minute. The jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion can there­fore begin to de­ter­mine who will have the main Gen­eral Del­e­ga­tions. But we also know that 'the bat­tle against un­em­ploy­ment is the only pri­or­ity that can be un­der­stood to be a major one', and that "there will never be talk of the le­gal­i­sa­tion of sur­ro­gacy dur­ing my pres­i­dency'. Be­cause, of course, these is­sues re­main cen­tral dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil.