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Published: 2 january 2013 08:43

Irish Ambassador: Ireland's EU presidency will focus on stability and fighting unemployment

Philomena Murnaghan
BFL/Tomo Lukšio nuotr. / Philomena Murnaghan

After assuming the presidency over the European Union (EU) on 1 January, Ireland will seek to guarantee stability and creation of new jobs, says Irish Ambassador to Lithuania Philomena Murnaghan.

Murnaghan said in an interview to BNS that 2013 would mark a new phase in EU efforts to recover. In her words, the pace of the European economic recovery is slow, and the unemployment levels are “unacceptably high”, therefore, addressing these problems is among the priorities of EU presidency worked out by the Irish government.

"The Irish presidency of the Council of the European Union has as its main focus for everything we do in the next six months and that is stability, jobs, and growth. That is the slogan we've chosen, which is actually very much in resonance with what we're doing at home, nationally and what EU is trying to do at that level. We will be doing everything to secure stability within the European Union but also ensuring that this leads to jobs. So you will hear that slogan very often. We generally mean it will dictate everything we do at every sectoral level," said the ambassador.

According to her, small- and medium-sized businesses in the community give jobs to millions of people, therefore, their interests should be taken into consideration when creating the European banking union and thus seeking to promote general economic development in Europe.

"The whole issue of the banking union must lead to freeing up of credits for small-medium enterprises which really is a driver for national economies," Murnaghan said.

"We need to take forward the whole completion of the economic and monetary union. A very important excellent first step was an agreement on the Single supervisory mechanism. During the Irish presidency we will be taking forward the implementation of that," the diplomat added.

Speaking about one of the key matters on the EU economic agenda – adoption of the 2014-2020 budget, the ambassador expressed hope that consensus would be achieved in February. At the same time, she noted that a bigger role in the process will be played by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and his team rather than the presiding country.

"At the moment, the process is in the hands of president van Rompuy so he is the main driver at the moment. Unfortunately, the EU Council didn't reach agreement in November on the package but I think our minister for European affairs is confident that there is enough drive there to reach an agreement very soon. The role of the presidency at this phase of the process is small and limited. Where Ireland tends to play stronger is in taking the agreed budget through the whole legislative process," Murnaghan said.

"We obviously would like to see an agreement as early as possible. We hope that would come at the February European Council," said the head of the Irish Embassy to Vilnius.

Ireland will preside over the Council of the European Union for six months until Lithuania takes over on 1 July.

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