Jean-Pierre Jouyet intent on a “citizenship Presidency”
By Célia Sampol | Wednesday 02 July 2008
He said it once, and he has said it again: France would like citizens to debate issues in an open and transparent manner. With this in mind, the French Secretary of State for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, has insisted that the programme established for the French Presidency of the EU contain a chapter on “citizenship”. This has become all the more topical in the context of the Irish ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty.
According to a diplomatic source, it is believed that Jouyet’s interest in this area first developed in November 2007 when, together with Commissioner Margot Wallström (institutional relations and communication strategy), he attended the first ‘Citizen’s Agora’ organised by the European Parliament. Since that time he has shown a keen interest in these subjects and a desire to strengthen contacts with civil society. In April 2008, after a further meeting with Wallström, he even went so far as to announce that France may become the first member state to organise a ‘civil society summit’. A strong desire for the second half of 2008 to be a “citizenship Presidency” is definitely present.
In March, a series of big ‘debates for Europeans’ were launched in the eight electoral constituencies of French members of the European Parliament. They are scheduled to continue until August. In addition, after the debates in Marseilles and Lyon in June, two further meetings entitled ‘Paroles d’Européens’ will be held in La Rochelle on 4-6 September and Nantes on 10-11 October. Once again, the idea will be to “give voice” to Europe and to make the French people aware of what is at risk for the future.
Jouyet’s natural inclination would be to reflect behind closed doors with members of the EU’s administration and small groups.