Preparation for the Irish Presidency of the EU started in late 2001 and is increasing in intensity as the Presidency approaches. It involves enhanced ministerial and departmental co-ordination, contacts with previous and future Presidencies and enhanced contacts at all levels with the EU institutions and with current and new member states.
Work on the development of the Presidency programme is taking place against the background of the decisions taken at the Seville European Council in June 2002 with regard to improving the functioning of the Council. In accordance with the Seville conclusions, a three year multi-annual strategic programme, drawn up by the six Presidencies concerned, will be adopted by the European Council in December. In the light of this an annual operating programme for 2004, drawn up jointly by the Irish and Netherlands Presidencies, will be adopted by GAERC in December. The Irish Presidency programme for the first six months of next year will be complimentary to these processes.