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In full: Herman van Rompuy's speech in Dublin today

The President of the European Council is in town to mark Ireland’s presidency of the Council of the EU. Here’s what he said.

Enda Kenny, Herman van Rompuy and Eamon Gilmore shake hands (awkwardly) after their meeting in Dublin Castle.
Enda Kenny, Herman van Rompuy and Eamon Gilmore shake hands (awkwardly) after their meeting in Dublin Castle.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE PRESIDENT of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, is in Ireland today having met with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste this morning.

Van Rompuy met with Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore at Dublin Castle following a meeting where they marked Ireland’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, a sister body to van Rompuy’s European Council.

The visit also marked the formal launch of Ireland’s presidency policy programme, which can be downloaded here.

Van Rompuy’s full speech is reproduced here.

Can I first of all say that I am very glad to be here in Ireland again. I should also like to convey my best wishes to all of you for the New Year, especially in your personal and family lives. And I should like to thank Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the government for their hospitality.

The start of this new year is a special moment for Ireland and its people. You joined the Union 40 years ago. Life begins at 40! You are taking over the Presidency in challenging times for Europe. And you are a good example to all on how to handle the economic crisis. Through painful but unavoidable efforts you have consistently met all your targets – and more importantly you are recreating your potential for growth and jobs.

The successful National Treasury Management bond market auction yesterday is yet another sign that confidence is back in Ireland. 2013 should be the year of a return to stronger economic growth. The economic and social situation in Europe remains, of course, on top of the European agenda.

2012 was a turning point in the crisis of the euro zone. We have to make at least three distinctions when speaking of an improved situation. Firstly and most importantly, the worst is behind us, in particular the existential threat to the euro. The uncertainty hampered consumer confidence and compromised the stability of the euro – both are prerequisites for jobs and growth. Secondly, the economic recovery comes with a time lag. We have to be fully aware that the economy is reacting with a time lag to a return to more stability. On top of this, employment is reacting with a time lag to a return to more economic growth.

Thirdly, we need more structural economic growth overall in the euro zone – without any exceptions. And we need the euro area to become more competitive compared to the rest of the world. This is a fourth distinction I want to make.

So, the situation is improving but we still have plenty of work to do. This also means improving the functioning of our Economic and Monetary Union in line with my report on the need for a genuine EMU, notably by establishing a banking union. This is one of the key areas where we will need to cooperate. And one of the key objectives is to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereign, especially for Ireland.

We need to finalise the work on the Single Supervisory Mechanism to ensure the efficient supervision of banks. We need to adopt the new rules on capital requirements for banks (CRD IV). We need to agree the Commission proposals for recovery and resolution of banks and the proposal for harmonised deposit guarantee schemes. We need to agree the operational framework for the direct recapitalisation of banks via the ESM – as soon as possible in the first semester of this year, as an implementation of the European Council conclusions of June last year. And we need to progress on a proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism still this year – with the intention of adopting it during the current parliamentary cycle. And beyond the banking union, we will also need to agree on the next seven years budget, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework – or just “MFF”. So, no doubt it will be busy for all of us – also in 2013.

The motto of the Irish Presidency, “Stability, Jobs and Growth “, precisely captures what we are all working for. Reforms, economic adjustment or however the ongoing measures are called, can never be an end itself but can only serve as a means to an end in itself: for more stability, more jobs and more growth.

Taoiseach, Tánaiste, I am glad to see that Ireland is ready and well prepared for this important Presidency. Your country has a long-standing experience in exercising the role of the EU Presidency. This is already the 7th time. I am confident that under your leadership and your ministers´ also this time the Irish Presidency will be both fruitful and successful.

Read: Free Audis ‘only used to bring ministers to hotels’ during EU Presidency

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Gavan Reilly

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