Focus of presidency to be stability, jobs, growth, says Gilmore
Ireland’s priorities for its six-month presidency of the European Council will dovetail with its national agenda focusing on economic stability, jobs and growth, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore has said.
The Irish presidency begins in earnest this week with the EU’s two most senior officials and 27 commissioners due to visit Dublin over the coming days. European Council president Herman van Rompuy arrives today for a series of meetings at which the stalled EU budget talks will be discussed.
Mr Gilmore said Ireland’s priorities during the presidency include advancing issues such as banking union, financial stability, and separating sovereign and banking debt.
“We are putting a very strong emphasis on growth returning to European economy and jobs being created,” Mr Gilmore said.
“This is not just a thematic slogan for the presidency – there are a range of legislative measures . . . that will be advanced during the course of the presidency.”
Outlining Ireland’s agenda for the presidency with Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, Mr Gilmore stressed that the issue of how to tackle soaring levels of youth unemployment across Europe would also be prioritised. He said the question of the EU’s trade with international partners would also be key, with free-trade agreements with Japan, Singapore, Canada and the US expected to be finalised.
Ms Creighton, who chaired the interdepartmental committee that spent 18 months honing priorities for the presidency, described Ireland’s programme as “ambitious but realistic” in its scope.
She said this presidency would be “less on the side of show and more on the side of substance” compared with previous presidencies.
Ms Creighton noted the Lisbon Treaty had changed the nature of the presidency, particularly with the new powers granted to the European Parliament.
She said Ireland hoped for a “positive and constructive” engagement with that body over the next six months. “If our aspirations are to be transformed into concrete action, we need the co-operation of the parliament.” She also discussed how enlargement issues will feature in the Irish presidency.
Irish officials say they will continue to prioritise a credible enlargement policy based on the principle of conditionality.
Tomorrow, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Gilmore will join European Commission president José Manuel Barroso to launch the European Year of Citizens, an initiative Ms Creighton said was designed to get people to reflect on the notion of European citizenship, its benefits and how it may evolve in the future.
Ms Creighton will tomorrow join Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan to launch “Culture Connects”, a programme that will involve “Irish artists in Europe and European artists in Ireland”.