Written Answers. - EU Presidency.
23 Mr. M. Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the plans, programmes or proposals, if any, that will be put in place in view of Ireland's forthcoming Presidency of the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5566/96]
38 Mr. Davern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the action, if any, he proposes, during Ireland's Presidency of the EU, to make the Union more accountable and transparent to its citizens. [8313/96]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 38 together.
The production of a programme for the Presidency is well in hand and will be finalised in the light of the work done under the Italian Presidency. The Presidency is obliged to place the programme before the institutions of the Union early in July and it will be circulated to Deputies at that time.
In relation to the practical organisational issues arising from our Presidency planning, I have lodged with the Oireachtas Library for the information of Deputies the calendar of Council meetings and the list of Presidency-related meetings in Ireland during our Presidency. These are being updated regularly.
The main obligation on any Presidency is to ensure an efficient, effective and impartial approach to the discharge of the business of the European Union and this is a primary objective of our Presidency planning. Those issues which will be priorities for the European Union and for Ireland during our Presidency are set out in the White Paper on Foreign Policy. They are likely to include:
—the Intergovernmental Conference to review aspects of the EU Treaties,
—preparations for the Third Stage of Economic and Monetary Union,
—growth, competitiveness, employment and social inclusion,
—agreement on the draft Union budget for 1997,
—Third Pillar issues such as drugs, immigration, extradition and organised crime,
—implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy,
—furthering developing relations between the EU and the applicant countries in preparation for future enlargement of the Union, and
—the continuing development of relations with other countries and regions outside the Union.
The White Paper on Foreign Policy clearly indicates full Government support for the present moves within the European Union towards the introduction of greater transparency and openness in the decision making process of the Union. That support will continue during our Presidency and beyond. Transparency will also be addressed in the context of the Intergovernmental Conference.
For the Intergovernmental Conference to be a success, it must be transparent both in its conduct and its outcome. The Government, therefore, attaches importance to the transparency of the Intergovernmental Conference process, including during our Presidency, when we will chair the Intergovernmental Conference negotiations. It is also essential that the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference is clear and comprehensible and that the decisions taken at the Intergovernmental Conference result in a significant improvement in the transparency of the functioning of the Union.
The Government will support the introduction of provisions in the Treaty itself which reflect the importance of transparency.