Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (201)

Tom Fleming

Question:

201. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the main priorities for Ireland during the Irish Presidency of the EU Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8128/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

During our Presidency, the Irish Government is focusing on measures to restore Europe’s financial stability, stimulate sustainable economic growth and, above all, to promote jobs. Ireland’s Presidency agenda reflects very closely our domestic priorities. The opening phase of Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU is now over. Our Presidency Programme “for Stability, Jobs and Growth” has been well received and work is now well under way to deliver on Ireland’s key Presidency priorities. The Presidency has actively supported the President of the European Council in securing agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) which is essential to underpin Europe’s economic recovery, future growth and social cohesion. We are engaging intensively with the European Parliament in order to secure its formal assent to the MFF regulation and accompanying Inter-Institutional Agreement. We will be chairing discussions on almost 70 separate sectoral regulations (including on Common Agricultural Policy reform) related to the MFF proposal and negotiating their passage through the Parliament.

One of the most pressing problems in Europe today is high level of unemployment, in particular of young people. Ireland’s Presidency has placed the spotlight on youth unemployment and is taking the necessary measures to secure significant progress on related legislative dossiers such as the youth employment and social investment packages and the youth guarantee file. We will be seeking to make good progress in this area at the Employment and Social Affairs Council at the end of February. External trade is also a key driver for jobs and growth. This is why Ireland’s Presidency is focusing substantively on the EU external trade agenda, in particular EU-US relations and with the rapidly growing markets in Asia. Recent statements by the President of the United States and by EU leaders have given us an additional impetus for working on a mandate necessary for launching negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States.

Ireland is seeking to manage the effective implementation of economic governance measures that have been agreed at EU level, in particular the European Semester process of budgetary and economic co-ordination, and the Banking Union proposals. In order to foster growth and boost job creation across the Union, Ireland is paying special attention to unlocking the potential of the European Single Market and, in particular, of the Digital Agenda. The Presidency is working to advance proposals on intellectual property, cyber-security, e-Signatures/e-Identification, Data Protection, web accessibility and high-speed broadband roll-out. Enlargement is also a high priority for our Presidency, seeing this not only as a historical responsibility but also as fundamental for the peace and security of our continent. The Irish Government is continuously monitoring progress in fulfilling our Presidency Programme. We have had a good start but there is a lot of work ahead. During our Presidency, we are strongly committed to achieving tangible results for our citizens.

Questions Nos. 202 and 203 answered with Question No. 200.