By the EESC Diversity Europe Group

As the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union gets going, French members of the Diversity Europe Group share their hopes about this semester, from empowering European democracy to shifting the focus from the EU to Europe's people.

Since 1 January 2022, France has been holding the six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU. One of its priorities will be strengthening European democracy. The French Presidency's programme has been built around three key objectives, including a humane Europe that listens to citizens' concerns in the framework of the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE).

Representing civil society organisations, the EESC supports this objective and is actively involved in the Conference. The French members of its Diversity Europe Group have many expectations.

Dominique Gillot (FG PEP, CNCPH) expects "the reaffirmation of the idea of an inclusive Europe, in terms of solidarity and health, full citizen participation, and special attention paid to people living with a disability and to the elderly".

Patricia Blanc (Imagine for Margo – Children without cancer) believes that COVID-19 has placed health at the heart of public concern. She urges: "Let's not forget that cancers and rare illnesses affect millions of people in Europe each year."

Joël Destom (MIAG, AG2R La Mondiale)  hopes that "the French Presidency's keywords, which are recovery, belonging, power, and social, digital and climate issues, resonate even louder in the overseas territories."

Arnaud Schwartz (FNE) wants the French Presidency to be "ambitious in its discourse but also in its actions, by correctly implementing environmental legislation".

Laurence Sellos (Chambre d’Agriculture de Seine Maritime) fears that the farming Green Deal, as it stands, will drastically lower European production. "We urge the French Presidency to review this position so that science helps agriculture to accelerate its agro-ecological transition and helps us address the challenge of climate change," Ms Sellos said.

Finally, Thierry Libaert (FNH) believes that "Europe represents a formidable ambition that has lost momentum. It seems opaque." He said: "The French Presidency of the EU is an excellent opportunity to try and reconnect citizens with Europe. So, let's talk less about Europe, and more about Europeans."

Visit the website of the Committee to learn more about the work of the Diversity Europe Group relating to the CoFoE and in the context of the French Presidency. (jk)