Kenny confident on budget deal
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in Brussels for the EU budget meeting. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he remains confident agreement will be reached on a the controversial €1 trillion budget for the European Union.
Speaking following a meeting with three EU chiefs - European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz - Mr Kenny said there appeared to be a willingness to reach a conclusion by the weekend.
As president of the EU, it is Ireland’s responsibility to engage with the parliament to agree an overall seven-year budget.
It will also manage around 70 pieces of legislation needed to implement the budget across the EU's many activities.
Mr Kenny is in Brussels today for the talks, which will continue at European Council level on February 7th and 8th under the chairmanship of Mr Van Rompuy.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is also in Brussels today where he will urge ministers to reach agreement on the seven-year budget, when he chairs the first General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting of Ireland's EU presidency. The meeting will focus on the issues to be considered at the European Council later this week.
Ministers attending the GAC will also discuss Europe’s trade agenda for the Irish presidency, including progress made on free trade agreements with the US and Canada.
"This is an extremely important week for Europe and for Ireland. It is of critical importance that we get a deal on the EU budget because what Europe needs now is certainty, and securing agreement on a seven-year budget (2014 – 2020) would provide a great deal of certainty," Mr Gilmore said ahead of the meeting.
"In my role as chair of the General Affairs Council I will be stressing the need for a common approach as we work to reach agreement. We're talking about a budget that will come close to a thousand billion euro here, but I’m confident that we can get this done."
This Tánaiste is also meeting the European Parliament ’s MFF negotiation team ahead of the council meeting this morning. Mr Van Rompuy will later conduct a working lunch with the members of the General Affairs Council during which they will discuss the framework.
Ireland took up the presidency of the EU on January 1st.
This is the seventh time the country has held the post. The last term was in 2004.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Ireland joining the union. The Taoiseach has insisted he will take advantage of the post to strike a deal with Europe on the country’s crippling debt burden.