France's turn at holding the EU presidency began on 1 July, with the uncertain future of the Lisbon Treaty overshadowing its plans. What are the main priorities for the French EU presidency?
As an EU founder member France has a lot at stake
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to get the EU's reform treaty ratified by all 27 member states - but that is unlikely to happen during France's six-month presidency. The Republic of Ireland's rejection of the treaty in a June referendum has put the onus on France to broker a solution. But little progress is expected before Irish leaders present their ideas at an EU summit in October. Mr Sarkozy acknowledged the importance of the Lisbon problem, saying "we have to profoundly change our way of building Europe", to reassure Europe's citizens. He said his "first priority" was to "find a way to contain the problem to the Irish". The treaty is aimed at streamlining EU decision-making and giving EU foreign policy more weight and coherence. But it is now unclear when these reforms can be introduced, if at all.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
France wants to ensure that the EU is driving global efforts to combat climate change, ahead of crucial talks next year on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. France wants to conclude an ambitious EU energy efficiency package, including specific targets for each country. The EU is committed to achieving a cut of at least 20% in CO2 emissions by 2020 and boosting the use of renewable energy sources to 20% by 2020. Mr Sarkozy favours tax breaks to encourage take-up of energy-efficient appliances.
France wants to seal an EU-wide pact on immigration and asylum. The plan is to control and channel immigration flows to the EU, curbing illegal immigration and better integrating the legal migrants. French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux is set to unveil the draft pact in Cannes on 7 July. France is reported to have watered down some of its original plans, such as a central EU institution that would process asylum requests, and "integration contracts" that would commit migrants to learning the host country's language and values. France is still expected to seek a general agreement to avoid large-scale "regularisations" of illegal migrants. In 2005, Spain gave some 570,000 illegal migrants the right to stay and work legally - the kind of "regularisation" that France opposes.
A clash between President Sarkozy and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson suggests that France will not push for an ambitious reform of the controversial Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). France lists agriculture among its priorities - but it appears to have a fair deal for European farmers and consumers in mind, rather than any bold initiative to remove trade barriers. Mr Sarkozy has promised to "protect Europeans", worried as they are about high food and fuel prices. The EU is due to consider reform of the CAP - a long-standing UK demand - but France is reluctant to cut farm subsidies. Mr Sarkozy accused Mr Mandelson of pursuing a trade liberalisation deal that would cut EU food production by 20% and reduce food exports - at a time of food shortages in the developing world.
DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Mr Sarkozy wants to beef up the EU's defence capability, with a particular focus on rapid reaction forces, military transport aircraft and crisis management structures. But the UK opposes France's idea of a permanent European defence headquarters and Irish sensitivities about neutrality may force France to tread carefully. The UK and several other EU states are also wary of duplicating Nato structures.
Mr Sarkozy will launch this project on 13 July, but so far other EU members have shown little enthusiasm for it and the plans remain rather vague. France maintains strong ties with its former colonies in North Africa and it sees economic opportunities in the Mediterranean region. But it is unclear how many leaders will attend the summit - both EU and non-EU - and Arab-Israeli tensions may weaken its impact.