Friday 19 January 2018

Kenny pays tribute to Gilmore and Creighton for EU Presidency

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Shona Murray in Strasbourg

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has paid tribute to the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton for their “invaluable contribution” to Ireland’s EU Presidency.

Mr Kenny says tackling the “horror of youth unemployment” was the “one single issue” of Ireland’s 7th Presidency of the European Union.

In his final speech of Ireland’s EU Presidency to the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning, Mr Kenny outlined the delivery of a number of key agreements during Ireland’s 6-month tenure.

Following her keynote speech on the abortion legislation yesterday, Ms Creighton accompanied the Taoiseach to Strasbourg today.

She was present at the Taoiseach’s final speech to the European Parliament but is not expected to speak at today’s session of the parliament.

Mr Kenny paid tribute to the work of Mr Gilmore and Ms Creighton, particularly for their work in securing political agreement on the EU’s 7 year budget.

The agreement was delivered just last Thursday after many months of “frustration” and ‘difference of opinion’ from all EU negotiators.

The so-called MMF – the EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework is a €960 billion investment programme across infrastructure, cohesion, education, research, agriculture which will now be reviewed again in 2016 at the behest of the European Parliament.

The Taoiseach says while it is an “understatement” to say that not everyone is happy with the deal a commitment in the final stages to frontload €8 billion euro towards initiatives tackling youth unemployment, has now “bolstered the credibility of the European Union”.

Mr Kenny described as “heartening” the commitment from all member states to provide training, education or ‘the chance of a new job’ for people under the age of 25 within four months of their becoming unemployed, under the newly created ‘Youth Guarantee’ scheme.

According to the Taoiseach, this state-wide agreement is testament to Ireland’s “absolute commitment to ending the horror of youth unemployment”, which he described as “an abomination”.

He said the scheme was “one of the most significant signals to Europe’s struggling men and women, that Europe is rising to the challenge and is a union deserving of their trust and confidence”.

Ireland is likely to benefit from these measures due to its 26.7 per cent youth unemployment rate but it is not clear by how much as of yet.

Mr Kenny said at this “difficult juncture” and “particularly torrid period” it was important the markets now saw that “Europe could solve its problems” saying Ireland’s achievements during the last 6 months have now “bolstered the credibility of our Union”.

In addition, Mr Kenny said the Presidency sought to put in place drivers for growth and jobs, the potential for which will soon be realised following a political mandate for EU-US trade talks at last month’s G8 summit.

Estimated to be worth €100 billion to the European economy, the Taoiseach says “Such agreement is essential to what should be a game-changing Transatlantic Partnership”.


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