Macron calls on EU to focus on climate and tech challenges

19 Jan 2022

Emmanuel Macron. Image: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Thanachaiary

Emmanuel Macron has called for action on climate and tech challenges, as France takes over presidency of the EU Council.

French president Emmanuel Macron said EU countries need to unite and focus on the climate crisis and digital transformation, which he cited as two of the main challenges facing the bloc.

Macron spoke about his priorities to the European Parliament today (19 January) as France took over the rotating presidency of the EU Council for the next six months.

Future Human

Describing the climate crisis as the “first challenge”, Macron urged the EU to put clauses in trade agreements and to implement a law banning imports that contribute to deforestation. He also called for the protection of the environment to be added to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“We have to move from words to deeds, transforming our industries, investing in new technologies,” Macron said. He also noted that Europe was where the world came together in 2015 to sign the Paris Agreement.

However, French MEP Yannick Jadot responded to Macron by saying he will go down in history as the “president of climate inaction”.

“You prefer to sign armistices with the lobbies rather than wage wars on climate change,” Jadot said.

Digital revolution

The second challenge Macron noted is the “digital revolution”, calling on the EU to build a “single digital market so we can create European flagships and champions”. He said there is a need to for the EU to “simplify its laws” in order to “build a single digital market that is huge in scale”.

This isn’t the first time Macron has pushed for European tech champions. Speaking at a Scale-Up Europe event last June, he shared his hopes to see 10 European tech companies valued at €100bn by 2030.

EU lawmakers will vote on the Digital Services Act tomorrow (20 January), designed to regulate online platforms on issues such as illegal content and algorithms. Last month, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Digital Markets Act, the proposed law that seeks to impose stricter rules around tech competition in Europe.

“In the next few months we can see the emergence of a European digital model which simultaneously will provide for free and fair competition between stakeholders and stop platforms killing innovation and making sure they protect citizens,” Macron said in his speech today.

On other issues, Macron assured MEPs that priority will be given to legislation that improves quality of employment, ensures decent wages, reduces the gender pay gap, gives rights to platform workers, combats discrimination and ensures gender balance on business boards.

Special address by Emmanuel Macron, 24 January 2018. Image: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Thanachaiary via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com