The French Presidency of 2008 - The Unexpected Agenda (2008:3op)

The French Presidency selected four priorities – immigration, defence, climate change and energy, agriculture – in line with the European agenda but also with national interests. The Union for the Mediterraneanwas later added to this list. Although the project raised strong objections from Germany, Sarkozy eventually reached an agreement.

Energy and climate change are probably the most difficult and significant issues tackled during the Presidency. Despite a particularly overloaded agenda, France showed a strong determination with a view to adopting the climate package before the end of its Presidency. Discussions over the climate package also suffered from the worldwide financial crisis that has mobilised most of the energy of the European leaders since September 2008. The financial crisis is one of the unexpected problems that modified the agenda of the Presidency.

The Irish ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008 reopened the institutional question. In response, the French strategy mainly consisted of putting pressure on Irish officials to envisage a second referendum. In August 2008, the Georgian crisis also led a vigorous Sarkozy to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia on behalf of the EU.

In the report, the authors present their assessment of the Presidency from the perspective of French EU policy.

The report was presented at the seminar The French Presidency of 2008 and is a part of the research project The EU Presidencies.

icon 2008:3op The French Presidency of 2008: The Unexpected Agenda (315.24 kB)