THE FIRST FORMAL event of the Irish EU Presidency took place today, as the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, along with ministerial colleagues, hosted the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents in Dublin Castle.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, was welcomed at Dublin Castle this afternoon by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste. The Parliament leaders and the government are discussing the Irish Presidency’s priorities today and tomorrow for its six months in office from January-June 2013.
Following a short meeting ahead of the full plenary meeting with Ministers and parliamentary leaders, Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD welcomed Schulz and said:
I can tell you that the Irish Presidency will be in the business of solutions because that’s what the people expect and nothing less. 2013, after all, will be the European Year of Citizens. The difference we intend to make will be all about three objectives. Stability, jobs and growth.
He added: “I look forward to getting down to work, as a recovery country leading a recovery Europe. The preparations are nearly over. We’re ready to do business as Presidency, starting in just a few weeks’ time.”
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD said that with many pressing issues on the table as the country takes over the presidency, “Ireland stands ready to execute an effective and efficient Presidency”.
Gilmore said that the government is “already thinking about our role in relation to pushing for a deal on the EU budget – which is certainly high on my agenda as incoming Chair of the General Affairs Council”.
He added that securing a deal on the MFF “is a vital step towards strengthening social cohesion and fighting unemployment – especially youth joblessness”. “We’re also focused on making real progress on enlargement, and leveraging the economic benefits of the Single Market,” he added.
The Conference of Presidents will include a visit to the Oireachtas and a meeting with President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.