Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (226)

Gerry Adams


226. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his meeting with the College of Commissioners in Dublin Castle on 10 January. [2389/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The visit to Dublin by President Barroso and the College of Commissioners on 10 January was an important opportunity for the Irish Presidency to outline its priorities and to consult with the Commission on how best these could be advanced. The visit opened with a plenary meeting between the Government and the College which confirmed a high level of support for the Presidency priorities of Stability, Jobs and Growth, and for the specific measures we are advancing to realise those objectives.

At the meeting I spoke about the urgent need for action by the EU on tackling youth unemployment and the priorities set out in the Irish Presidency programme to address the issue including the Youth Employment Package and the Youth Guarantee, improved skills and training and removing barriers to worker mobility. I also highlighted the prospects for job creation in policy areas such as the Single Market, Digital Single Market and the research and innovation sector which the Irish Presidency is prioritising. As Chairman of the General Affairs Council I spoke about the urgent need to reach a decision of an adequately funded budget for the EU from 2014-2020 (Multiannual Financial Framework/MFF) to underpin economic recovery and job creation. I also outlined the Presidency’s objectives in relation to the PEACE programme, developing new markets for the EU’s exporters through enhanced foreign trade agreements. I highlighted the issue of EU-US Trade at that time and we are very satisfied to now see that work underway.

On the external relations agenda facing the Union I undertook to give full support to the work of HRVP Ashton and indicated that the Irish Presidency priorities would include human rights, development aid and enlargement.

Following the plenary, Ministers met with their Commission counterparts in a number of smaller thematic meetings to review and discuss policy aspects of the Irish Presidency programme in greater detail. As chair of the General Affairs Council I met with Commissioners Almunia, Rehn, Lewandowski. Šefovi, and Hahn with Ministers Noonan and Howlin. The issues discussed included the need for a timely deal on the MFF, to allow the Irish Presidency to seek agreement on the range of programmes of the Union that will create stability and drive growth and job creation in Europe for the remainder of the decade. We also exchanged views on the related issue of cohesion funding. We discussed the Presidency’s objectives in relation to the Banking Union and the agenda of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council and the broader Presidency growth agenda.