A great fillip for Ireland's upcoming presidency of council, says Gilmore


THE AWARDING of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU provided a “great fillip” to Ireland’s forthcoming presidency of the European Council in the first half of next year, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

“I very warmly welcome the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union,” he told reporters in Dublin.

“The European Union has been the most successful peace process in our lifetime and indeed in our living memory. When you think of the fact that Europe, in the first half of the 20th century, tore itself apart, slaughtered its young in two great wars and that the protagonists in those wars came together, worked to develop the EU. The wars of the 20th century that occurred in Europe would be unthinkable now.

“When you look as well at the role the European Union has played in reaching out to parts of the European continent, like the Balkans, where only 20 years ago we saw slaughter and genocide, now some of those countries are already members or about to be members of the European Union and others, there are enlargement negotiations going on with them.

“Indeed, the role that the EU has played in supporting peace processes and peace efforts in different parts of our Continent, including the financial support that the EU has provided for the peace process in Ireland. I think it’s a great recognition of the peaceful role and the role in contributing to peace that the European Union has made.

Asked if it provided a good springboard for Ireland’s EU presidency, he said: “Yes indeed it does. Ireland will be taking on the presidency of the EU at a time which is very challenging for the EU. We all know the economic difficulties that we have to address, we will be addressing the EU budget, we will be seeking to press ahead with the jobs and growth agenda in Europe and deal with some difficult trading issues that will be on our agenda in the early part of next year.”

On speculation that current holder Cyprus and Ireland holder of the incoming presidency, might be jointly presented with the prize, the Tánaiste said: “Those arrangements are matters that will have to be decided over time.”