My honourable friend the Minister for Europe (Jim Murphy) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
I will today lay before the House the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Command Paper Prospects for the European Union in 2008: French Presidency. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House. Additional copies can also be obtained from the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. A copy will also be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk.
The last White Paper was published in January 2008. It focused primarily on the priorities of the Slovenian presidency. The White Paper that I am laying before the House today looks at the priorities of the French presidency for the latter half of 2008.
The French presidency has set out a challenging agenda covering a wide range of areas, building on the positive successes of the Slovenian presidency. The presidency offers a significant opportunity to work closely together on a number of key issues.
On climate change and energy security, the presidency aims to reach agreement on the 2020 climate change package, the text of the internal market energy package and the strategic energy review. The presidency will continue work on tackling the challenge of food and oil prices and the credit crunch. These are key issues for the UK Government and ones that we will work hard with EU partners to reach agreement on. The presidency will also look to agree a way forward on the Lisbon treaty during the next six months.
In addition, the presidency will consider the way ahead on the Lisbon agenda for jobs and growth, within the context of increased economic uncertainty, climate change and competition from emerging economies. It will be important in this to focus on delivering reforms that help EU citizens to take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges presented by globalisation. We will work closely with the presidency to assist it in taking this forward, rooted in a Global Europe approach.
The EU will continue to work with international partners to address challenges such as those posed by Zimbabwe, Burma, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East peace process.