Getting the European economy back on track by improving the European Union's global competitiveness, promoting economic growth and creating jobs will be the central theme of Ireland's EU Presidency. Peace, security and development, within an open and transparent rules bound system are essential for sustainable growth and job creation and my Department will focus on a range of key policy areas during our Presidency in support of our overall objectives. Among the areas that will require priority attention are:
Active support for the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to promote effectiveness and coherence in the EU's response to current foreign policy and security challenges. It is likely that the Middle East and Iran, North Africa and other issues in Africa and elsewhere will require priority attention within the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) during the Irish semester.
We will promote greater coherence in EU external policies, including at the UN and in other multilateral fora. Our priorities within the CFSP will include the promotion and protection of human rights and helping to shape the EU's position on disarmament and non-proliferation. We will work to enhance the role of the EU at the UN on human rights issues; we will also help to implement a political declaration and action plan expected under the EU Human Rights Strategy. Key areas of work in the disarmament and non-proliferation field include preparation for the Non-Proliferation Treaty review process and a major chemical weapons conference in April 2013.
We will contribute to the development of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy, taking full account of Ireland's interests and building on the experience of Ireland's 2012 Chairmanship of the OSCE in the areas of conflict prevention and resolution.
The Irish Presidency will actively support the work of the EU's permanent President of the European Council and the High Representative to strengthen the EU's relations with its strategic partners. We will support growth and employment for the EU and its partners through enhanced political engagement underpinned by strengthened commercial relations. Coordination among EU Members States and with the EU institutions on the EU's Summits and Ministerial level meetings with the US, Russia and Latin America will be an integral aspect of the Irish Presidency's work in this regard.
We will support the implementation of the incentive-based approach of the European Neighbourhood Policy. This is aimed at promoting democratic reforms and strengthening economic development in the countries to the East and South of the Union.
We will promote the integrity and universality of the International Criminal Court (ICC), encourage further ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC and seek to ensure that those indicted by the Court are brought to justice.
The Irish Presidency will engage in targeted efforts to reinforce and improve the EU's civil protection instruments.
Issues on the enlargement agenda arising during our Presidency will be shaped by progress made in the accession negotiations in the interim. It can be expected, nonetheless, that we will continue oversight of the accession negotiations with Iceland, Turkey and Montenegro. It is expected also that Croatia will accede to the European Union on 1 July 2013.
As Presidency in the lead up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Review Summit in September 2013 we will highlight areas to be considered as part of the post-2015 framework such as: human rights; equity / inclusiveness; climate change and sustainable development; economic growth and employment; agriculture and industrial development; governance, fragile states and vulnerability; and security-related issues.
We will seek to address the linkages between hunger, nutrition and climate justice by ensuring that these linkages are adequately reflected in the new international development goals post-2015. We will oversee also the EU's input to the UN General Assembly's reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment.
The Irish Presidency will champion greater links between humanitarian relief and development aid. Drawing on lessons from the Horn of Africa emergency in 2011 and input from our partners in the field, we will explore the practical application of these principles and showcase examples of best practice. We will place particular emphasis on the EU's approach to disaster risk reduction. We will progress the implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and work to develop new and innovative ways in which to ensure that the common set of humanitarian principles and commitments can be put into practice.
We must also be prepared to ensure that we are in a position to respond in an appropriate way to a range of issues that may emerge. Ireland has won a high reputation on six previous occasions for maintaining its flexibility and for managing an efficient, effective and impartial presidency, with clearly defined, realistic and achievable goals. In the post-Lisbon institutional framework, it will be even more important to work closely with partners and with all the institutions of the Union. We will seek to ensure that in the year which marks the 40th anniversary of our accession, the people of Ireland can continue to be proud of our contribution to the European Union.