French EU Council Presidency programme puts the spotlight on digitalisation and smart mobility

For the next six months, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be held by France, which took office on 1 January. The Hexagon succeeds Slovenia and will lead the new trio of presidencies, including the Czech Republic and Sweden, which will head the next two presidencies. On mobility topics, France’s programme highlights aspects related to connected and autonomous driving.

On digital technology, the priorities set focus on the economic regulation and accountability of platforms, with the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act at the top of the agenda. On 16 and 17 February the “High-Level Meeting on Connected and Autonomous Driving” will bring together high-level representatives and experts on connected and automated driving from the different institutions, industries and academia, for a review on national and European policies. These high-level meetings began in 2016 and France, like Germany, has recently passed legislation to regulate autonomous driving. The interest at this stage is therefore more on the actual deployment of this technology, which will be the focus of the two-day event in February.

On artificial intelligence (AI), France has announced a new stage in its national AI strategy that includes a fund of €2 billion to support the work of SMEs. A recent AI discussion in the AIDA Committee involving French national representatives highlighted that the EU must be an AI leader if it wishes to be a major global power. This would mean that the AI Act remains high on the new Presidency’s priority list.

France will also work on proposals by the Commission for the European Chips Act, which is led by Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. This is also the case for the Data Act, which was due to be published in early December 2021, and now likely to be released in Q1 of 2022.

In the context of the ‘Fit for 55’ regulatory package and its transport-related proposals, France intends to accelerate towards sustainable mobility in line with the European Green Deal. “The transport sector is crucial to achieving climate neutrality in the Union by 2050 and to the Union’s recovery. The Presidency is convinced of the need to create a timeline that is both ambitious and tenable in order to decarbonise our various modes of transport”, stated the French programme. The general expectation is that more attention will be paid to the draft regulation on the deployment of infrastructure for alternative fuels (AFIR).

Regarding the green transition, the French Presidency will be focused, in particular, on the establishment of carbon pricing at the EU borders for imported products. Also, at this moment, it seems that France fully supports the European Commission’s proposal to include nuclear power in the taxonomy list.

“The French Presidency must be a moment of truth for the regulation and accountability of digital platforms, the carbon pricing at European borders on imported products, minimum wages, and our relationship with Africa”, stated French President Emmanuel Macron.

Three main ambitions inspire France’s programme and will guide its actions in the coming months:

1. A more sovereign Europe, in particular with regard to border management and the strengthening of the Schengen area.
2. A new European model for growth, to promote economic recovery.
3. A humane Europe, to be closer to the demands of citizens.

This will be the 13th presidency for France and its first since the Lisbon treaty came into force in 2009.


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