Low expectations for the French EU Presidency

Austrian Institute of International Affairs

The start of the French Council Presidency has been clearly overshadowed by the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty; therefore the expectations have been set rather low. Besides, due to the ups and downs in Austrian politics the media focused rather on the government crisis and other related topics. Therefore the main question discussed in the media was and is how the French President and the Presidency will solve the ongoing or reopened crisis in the EU. Another topic of interest was the issue of the Mediterranean Union, which Sarkozy plans to promote and intense, especially regarding Germany’s role. It has to be said that due to history and the neighbourhood, Germany has been always observed closely.
 
However, the media coverage of the priorities of the French Presidency was low, presented in short articles and rarely commented on. One was made by Austria’s Minister of European and International Affairs Ursula Plassnik, saying that the priorities named by the French Presidency were of great importance, with only one question where there is to be a quite big gap: regarding the issue of nuclear energy, which Austria does not see as an appropriate solution to the energy crisis and is not willing to support. More emphasis should be put on renewable energy solutions. For Austria’s EU parliamentarian from the FPÖ, Andreas Mölzer, the idea of creating a Mediterranean Union was somewhat senseless; in his opinion it would be more promising to engage on the Balkans. The only issue that seemed of special concern from the Austrian point of view was the possibility for former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel becoming President of the European Council.
 
Establishment of a European External Action Service
 
No position papers or comments have been found on these issues.