On 1 July, France took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, following Slovenia.
For the next six months, France will organise and manage the meetings of working parties, committees, Coreper (the Permanent Representatives Committee, which consists of ambassadors to the European Union from the Member States, and is responsible for preparing for the Council's proceedings), as well as the Council in its various configurations, and the European Council.
The Presidency is a complex task. That is why the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU assists the Presidency in office.
The French Presidency's priorities are asylum and immigration, climate change, agriculture and defence. The President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, announced the details of the work programme in Paris.
On the subject of asylum and immigration, France is going to present a "European pact on immigration and asylum" which will be adopted during the French Presidency, to establish a European immigration policy. The aim is to regulate legal immigration and the return of illegal immigrants.
In the environment and energy supply area, during the French Presidency the Council will have to lay the foundations for a global agreement on climate change post-2012, which will be the subject of a UN Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.
The common agricultural policy will be reviewed in a "health check", made even more important by the worldwide food crisis and the rise in agricultural prices.
As regards defence, the French Presidency's main aim will be to strengthen the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
For more information:
French Presidency website
ECOFIN Council, 8 July 2008