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France Assumes The EU Presidency On January 1st, Amidst Political Turmoil In The Country.

Paris and London, Thursday, 30 December 2021 -

France will take over the rotating EU presidency on January 1st, amid presidential challengers accusing Macron of breaking campaign rules ahead of the April elections.

"If I had to sum up in one sentence the goal of this presidency, which will run from 1 January to 30 June, I would say that we must move from a Europe of cooperation within our borders to a powerful Europe in the world, fully sovereign, free of its choices, and master of its destiny," Macron said, outlining France's objectives.

Earlier in the month

Candidates for the French presidency were urging President Emmanuel Macron to declare his candidacy, accusing him of abusing his office to campaign while breaking the law.

The candidate for the mainstream right-wing Les Republicains party, Valérie Pecresse, filed a protest with the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) on Monday regarding a forthcoming broadcast interview with Macron.

The president's hour-and-a-half interview headlined "Where is France Heading?" will run in primetime on TF1 and LCI on Wednesday evening.

"we cannot have a candidate president who has the television channels open on demand and spends hours campaigning, while his opponents have to make do with five minutes of duplex to respond to him", Pécressed told reporters, explaining why she filed the complaint with the regulator, which monitors politicians' and parties' speaking time to ensure none are given more coverage on radio or television.

"This is not my conception of democracy" and "I ask the CSA to restore equality of speaking time and democratic fair play", she added. Her spokesman, Geoffroy Didier, wrote on Twitter that the CSA should subtract Macron's interview from his campaign speaking time: "We all understand that the outgoing president is already a candidate, stop the pretence!"

The government is allotted a third of political speaking time under CSA regulations, with political parties, including the ruling party, sharing the other two-thirds.

With just four months until the first round of the election, Macron's party, La Republique en Marche (LREM), is the only major organization that has yet to name an official candidate, but Macron is widely expected to run. According to the Elysée, the interview, which was taped earlier this week, is identical to one he gave around the same time last year to explain his presidency thus far and what he plans to accomplish in the coming months as the country takes up the rotating six-month EU presidency.

Pécresse, who earned her party's candidacy in a primary earlier this month, isn't the only contender who is unhappy. Boris Vallaud, a Socialist Party spokesman, expressed his displeasure with the interview on Twitter on Tuesday: "French men and women should not be summoned by the President for his campaign without being told so."

"In a democracy, the rules must be clear and the same for everyone," he added, describing Macron's presidency as "a five-year period of muddled democracy."

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right, has urged Macron to remove the uncertainty as soon as possible: "The French expect frankness, transparency, all that needs to be said is 'I will be candidate for re-election'," she stated on RMC.

A spokesman for Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the left-wing populist La France Insoumise, also called Macron to overcome the deadlock of an "open secret."

The CSA decided in September to start counting Eric Zemmour's speaking time as if he were a politician. The radical right figure was a news anchor and analyst on CNEWS at the time. He has since declared his bid for the country's highest office.

(Reporting by: The Decision Maker – International Relations editors in Paris and London)


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