A global success with a few weaknesses

Belgium
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles
 
The French Presidency was overwhelmingly considered a success, mainly because of the charismatic French President Sarkozy, who was largely covered by the press.[1] The Czech Presidency in comparison is debated less and the expectations are generally rather low and ambiguous. The French Presidency was globally associated on the one hand with three major “dossier” and on the other hand, with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
 
First of all, the three main “dossiers” highlighted during the semester were defense policy, climate and energy, and Congo. Concerning the defense policy, it was recognized as a priority for the French Presidency, but that was considered as far too ambitious.[2] Moreover, the Belgian political elite were rather divided on that area. Some parties, such as the Flemish-speaking socialists (SPA-VL.Pro) consider that defense is not a priority for many member states and certainly not a priority for Belgium.[3] While others, such as the French-speaking liberals (MR), claimed that the EU should progress in terms of a common defense policy.[4]
 
Climate and energy package
 

Criticising the lack of harmony in the European reaction

Belgium
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles

During the first days after the outbreak of the financial crisis, various Belgian political actors criticized the individual management of the events and the lack of harmony in the European reaction. The Belgian government expressed its dissatisfaction on this topic to the French President during the Eurogroup meeting on 12 October 2008. In addition, the Belgian Prime Minister denounced the lack of an answer from the EU at the beginning of the crisis, with the exception of the European Central Bank, while the parliamentary opposition particularly stressed the absence of the European Commission and of its President.[1]
 

More about the personality of Obama than about political priorities

Belgium
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles

The presidential elections in the United States of America were extensively covered by the Belgian press, however, it must be noted that the focus was on Obama’s personality, career and the USA electoral system and not on the impact for transatlantic relations.[1] Nevertheless, if we have to define the three main elements relevant for the EU-US relationship, it would be NATO, the place of Europe in the world after the inauguration and finally, climate change and human rights.
 
NATO
 

Hope for an early second Irish referendum but no major concern about the future of the EU

Belgium                                                                                                                                                                                         Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles