Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

EU Presidency

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his priorities for the EU presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57598/12]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union will focus on three core priorities: stability, and creating the conditions for sustainable jobs and growth. These priorities will drive work across all Council formations. Restoring stability and confidence through effective economic governance for Europe is necessary for creating the conditions necessary for employment and growth. The Presidency will work to restore stability by managing the implementation of the EU’s economic governance measures, and in particular the European Semester process, the new system of economic and budgetary policy coordination between Member States.

During our Presidency, Ireland will support the EU’s efforts to address the weaknesses in our Economic and Monetary Union exposed by the financial crisis. Much has already been achieved and we will build on the foundations laid by successive European Councils, in particular through working to advance proposals on Banking Union.

In preparing for the Presidency, the Government has identified in every sector proposals that they believe can best deliver stability, jobs and growth. These cover a wide area. There are measures to combat unemployment, particularly among our young people, through providing new skills and training and making it easier to work in other countries. There are a series of proposals to free up and develop the Single Market, from which Ireland as an export-led economy has benefitted so much. We will seek agreement on a new framework for research and innovation and progress on a number of proposals for boosting the digital economy, covering the areas of intellectual property, cyber security, e-signatures, data protection and high-speed broadband rollout. This work will be vital for creating the right environment for the jobs of the future.

Ireland will also make the case for improving Europe’s global trade relations, particularly with the United States, opening up markets across the world. Small and medium Enterprises are the backbone of the European economy and of the Irish economy; we will seek agreement on a programme to improve the competitiveness of the sector. We will also insist that the policies adopted by the European Union, whether in the field of agriculture, energy or the environment, are sustainable in the long-term.

Work on preparing for the Presidency is in the final stages and we will launch our detailed programme for the Presidency in early January. We take on the Presidency at a time of crisis and change but we are looking forward to making our contribution to resolving Europe’s difficulties and to meeting the needs of citizens in Ireland and across the European Union.


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