Pictured at an event organised by Enterprise Ireland to highlight Irish companies’ innovation capabilities to a delegation of European journalists are L to R: Eoin Bambury of Crospon Ltd and Minister Richard Bruton
On January 1 2013, Ireland started its 7th Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a fitting way to mark the 40th anniversary of our joining the European Economic Community, as it was known back in 1973.
Holding the Presidency is always a challenge for smaller countries but the Government is committed to running an effective and well managed Presidency.
Each Presidency is responsible for driving through regulations and legislation at a European level, but in a fair and impartial manner and by leading on all interactions with the European Parliament and with the Commission. However, Presidencies do have their own priorities and the Irish Presidency is being run under the banner of “Stability, Jobs and Growth”.
The economic crisis is the most important obstacle to growth in Europe today and one of the Government’s priorities is to restore banking stability. It will also work hard to get agreement on the Multi-Financial Framework which will set the budget of the European Union for the next seven years.
All of the other priorities feed into the themes of Jobs and Growth, whether through moving forward the Public Procurement directive, the Single European Patent or by tackling youth unemployment. These will help make Europe more competitive and should lead to growth.
The Presidency also provides multiple opportunities for the State Agencies as it places Ireland at the centre of things. It is an opportunity to promote Ireland and its companies, an agenda that Enterprise Ireland offices around the world will be driving strongly. It is also the reason why thousands of visitors will come here to attend one of the many meetings, seminars, workshops and conferences organised under the auspices of the Presidency. This has an important effect on the economy. Of particular note are EUROSME – developing the innovative capacity of SMEs, WIRE IV – strengthening the research and innovative capacity of European regions and EuroNanoForum – supporting the adoption of key enabling technologies.
The Ireland of the 21st century is unrecognisable from the Ireland of 1973, in particular for Irish businesses. We now have free access to a single market of over 490 million people, share a common currency with 16 other countries and have the right to move, work and reside within the territories of the other member states.
So until 30th June, when Lithuania takes over, Europe will be going a little bit greener.