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Enda Kenny tells parliament that he is 'truly, madly, deeply European'

The Taoiseach also acknowledged European tensions as the Irish presidency comes to an end.

IN HIS FINAL job as part of Ireland’s presidency of the Council of Europe, Enda Kenny made an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, highlighting the achievements of the past six months.

However, the Taoiseach also acknowledged the pressures of inter-European negotiations.

Commenting on a vote by Parliament tomorrow on the MMF (Multi-annual Financial Framework) agreement, he said:

“You know that the negotiations to this point were long and difficult and highly sensitive for both Council and Parliament. The result identifies the best way to ensure that the almost €1 trillion for MFF is released as soon as possible into the real economy.”

There were times when the council and parliament “differed sharply”, he added.

Times when it was so very difficult to make progress in the negotiations. Times when there was frustration and disappointment on both sides.

“But we refused to be daunted or remain divided. We built on the trust we had nurtured, on the relationships we had developed. We didn’t give up.  We kept at it. And because we did, we got there.”

According to Kenny, the outcome struck a balance of what was heard during negotiations.

“Not everyone in the Council was happy – something of an under-statement. But not everyone in the Parliament is 100% satisfied either!” he claimed.

Hitting more positive notes, the Taoiseach said he believes the Irish presidency bolstered the credibility of the European Union. Citing the banking union, CAP reform, digital agreements and youth unemployment initiatives, the Irish leader said Ireland followed through on its commitments and objectives.

“The signal that we now send to our struggling peoples, our struggling businesses and especially to our young men and women, is that yes – Europe is capable, Europe is competent, it is worthy your trust, it is deserving of our confidence,” he continued. “Because it can and does decide. It can and does deliver.”

Winding down his address, Kenny thanked Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton for her “invaluable contribution”, adding that the presidency had been “good for Ireland”.

Today I am proud to say to the Parliament that I am – as the saying goes – truly, madly, deeply, European.

“I believe in the idea of Europe as ‘home’. And because I do, I believe as Europeans we do ourselves an injustice by failing to marvel at what we have made, and above all, what we have made together from the wreckage of war, atrocity, chaos.”

“Today we Europeans are what we must strive to be, very much a whole, very much one family. Our shared identity exists beyond the realm of mere economics or currency or money. It is in our literature, our music, our culture and above all our people. For we are the early generations lucky enough to be not merely ‘Europeans’ but European.”

Ireland now hands the presidency to Lithuania and Kenny is due to hold a bilateral meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, ahead of a press conference this afternoon. He then returns to Dublin for the fist vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013.

Earlier: Taoiseach to boast about Irish presidency in Strasbourg today

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