Praise for Irish presidency tempers criticism of Anglo at EU summit
Taoiseach to address European Parliament on Tuesday in final act of presidency as baton is passed to Lithuania
German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference in Brussels yesterday. “I would like to give my heartfelt thanks for an unusually successful presidency in which many dossiers were brought to a successful conclusion,” she said. Photograph: Reuters/Francois Lenoir
Biting criticism in Brussels of the Anglo tape disclosures was tempered by high praise for Ireland’s outgoing presidency of the Council of the EU.
Although German chancellor Angela Merkel took an unforgiving swipe at errant bankers after the opening session of the summit, she paid tribute yesterday to the Irish presidency.
“I would like to give my heartfelt thanks for an unusually successful presidency in which many dossiers were brought to a successful conclusion,” said Dr Merkel.
“I thank Enda Kenny and the whole Irish Government.”
For his part, the Taoiseach praised the “many thousands of hours put in by people whose names are not known publicly in the interests of moving major files across the line”.
Every minister and minister of state did their job exactly as expected, Mr Kenny said. “In that sense I have to say, while the presidency won’t come to Ireland again for many years, this has been a rewarding and challenging experience.”
The baton passes to Lithuania on Monday ahead of a key vote by MEPs on the EU budget. With both the Commission and the Parliament now into the final year of their current mandate, the Irish presidency was under pressure from the off to advance several key initiatives through a complex legislative procedure.
The final act of the presidency is on Tuesday when Mr Kenny addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg. In addition to the budget deal, he is likely to cite agreements on banking supervision and resolution, a negotiating mandate for EU-US trade talks and the reform of the agricultural and fisheries policies.
“For those who have to take up presidencies, let me assure them that it’s not a challenge that they should take lightly,” Mr Kenny said.
“It’s one that carries with it an enormous extra responsibility in the sense of running governments and running countries.”
Both European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and EU Commission chief José Manuel Barroso paid tribute to the Government.
“I want to warmly congratulate Taoiseach Enda Kenny for a more-than-excellent Irish presidency of the Council,” Mr Van Rompuy said.
“Let me stress, it was a great pleasure dear Enda, to work together with you and with your team these six months.”
Mr Barroso echoed those sentiments. “It’s really impressive, the amount of work, and the results are indeed impressive. It was a very focused presidency, as I was expecting from the beginning from Ireland and the results speak from themselves.”