Ireland’s EU presidency will be ‘realistic but optimistic’ - Eamon Gilmore
IRELAND’S European Union presidency will focus on getting the economy on back on track and striking a deal on bank debt, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.
At a Brussels launch to mark the new year changeover, Mr Gilmore said the motto for the six months will be "stability, jobs and growth".
"I might start by saying that the Irish presidency will be one of realism but also of optimism. For us the glass is half-full and not half-empty," the Tanaiste said.
"Responding effectively to the financial and economic crisis remains a central concern for the European Union. The attention must now focus on the challenge of getting the European economy back on track by improving the EU's global competitiveness, promoting economic growth and creating jobs."
The Government also launched the presidency's dedicated website www.eu2013.ie as the Tanaiste outlined its focus.
Ireland takes over from Cyprus in January for six months.
A series of engagements will see Irish ministers chair 11 meetings with ministers from other member states on issues such as finance, environment, justice and trade.
There will be about 1,600 meetings during the six months with more than 180 in Ireland.
The presidency will cost about 60 million euro, down from Ireland's 2004 presidency which cost 110 million euro.
In an attempt to keep costs down, meeting venues are state-owned and operated by the Office of Public Works, with the headquarters in Dublin Castle.
Buses will be the main transport with cars restricted to heads of delegation for the 11 ministerial meetings and a handful of high-level events.
Book printing will be kept to a minimum and, like the Danish presidency, tap water will be used at meetings rather than bottled water.
The Tanaiste also spoke about the need to bring stability to the euro area.
"Last June we all agreed that we need to break the link between banks and sovereigns. And last week we achieved a major step forward, with agreement on the single supervisory mechanism," he said.
"The Irish presidency will build on this momentum toward banking union, working on deposit guarantee schemes and bank resolution and recovery. This will be key to moving to the next phase: allowing the European Stability Mechanism to directly recapitalise banks.
"It is imperative that we move ahead as quickly as possible with this. This is a priority both for Ireland nationally and as presidency of the EU."
Lucinda Creighton, minister for European affairs, who also attended the Brussels launch, said Ireland is an enthusiastic advocate of enlarging the EU.