Cuddle stain with hot sauce. Two hot meetings are taking place in Luxembourg at the end of France’s EU presidency: the Council of Energy Ministers on June 27 and the Council of Environment Ministers on June 28. And this in an uncertain national context, after Head of State Emmanuel Macron – aka Jupiter – received a real electoral slap last Sunday.
If you travel to Luxembourg and want to try the most typical of all gastronomies, you should sit down at the table in a good traditional restaurant and order Kuddelfleck. It is better not to know what it is made of (as it is fried cow stomach with breadcrumbs). Just trust the good work of the cooks. By the way, it is an ideal dish to fight against harsh winters.
And Europeans will need hefty dishes to get them through the coming months. “Preparing for winter will put a lot of pressure on the European energy agenda and the political agenda of the Czech presidency,” reports a person familiar with European politics. And it is in this context that the French presidency is coming to an end as it prepares to pass the baton to Prague.
Last chance for the French Chairmanship
European energy and environment ministers will meet in Luxembourg on June 27 and 28. Energy ministers could adopt the new targets of the RePowerEU plan to increase the share of renewable energy to 45 percent (instead of 40 percent) by 2030 and reduce energy consumption by 13 percent (instead of nine percent) by 2030 through increasing energy efficiency.
The environment ministers will deal with three dossiers: the end of sales of new combustion vehicles by 2035, the phasing out of free allowances in the emissions trading scheme, and the climate social fund. The two dates are the last chance for the French presidency to reach an agreement among the 27 member states on the Fit for 55 climate package. Prague will then have the task of overseeing the trilogues with the European Parliament. Which is anything but an easy task.
The two dates are all the more important because the French Council presidency has tried to bypass the European Council, where individual governments use the required unanimity for blackmail attempts. Instead, Paris is relying on the Permanent Representatives Committee and the rounds of ministers.
At the two councils next week, the presidency wants to make a whole series of compromises. Our expert speaks of the institutional equivalent of doing a triple somersault on the trapeze without a safety net: “If it works out, it’s very good; if it doesn’t, you’ll land right in the dust”.
In Paris government circles, however, there is a sobering realization that the dynamics of the negotiations are difficult. “We are in the home stretch and we see a certain hardening of the position of some member states, especially Germany. This is problematic because we should be in a phase where compromises are made.”
Political confusion in Paris
With his characteristic grandeur, Emmanuel Macron had promised at the beginning of the French presidency to reach an agreement on the 14 texts of the energy and climate package. But achieving the goal has not become any easier following the results of last Sunday’s parliamentary election.
The government will send a new minister to the negotiating table to lead the negotiations at both Councils: Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the minister in charge of the energy transition. She must try to bring to a general direction the dossiers prepared by her predecessor Barbara Pompili since January 2022.
Pannier-Runacher is part of the environmental triptych Macron announced between the two rounds of parliamentary elections. But Amélie de Montchalin, who was appointed minister for the ecological transition, leaves her post vacant after losing her seat in the National Assembly last Sunday. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne is now directly responsible for “ecological and energy planning.”
The appointment of former Industry Minister Pannier-Runacher to a key position for environmental and climate protection had led to an outcry in France, especially from the left and environmental associations. She rejects this: “I am for the ecology of solutions, not the ecology of illusions.” Pannier-Runacher describes herself as a “technician”: “I profess to work a lot because these are complicated issues that cannot be entrusted to people who only have slogans.” In Luxembourg she now has to put her skills to the test .