Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, this week welcomed the start of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union which runs from 1 January to 31 June 2013.
The Presidency is responsible for setting the agenda and ensuring the smooth operation of the Council of Ministers. Ireland last held the Presidency in 2004 but under new rules will not hold it again until after 2020.
Speaking this week, Ms. Prendergast said “I think the Irish Presidency is a remarkable opportunity for Ireland to set a pro-growth agenda in Europe over the course of the next six months.
“This agenda needs to move away from austerity measures, and focus instead on job creation and growth, so that we may grow our way out of this recession which has been plaguing not just Ireland, but all peripheral Member States of the EU.
“I am delighted to see the inclusion of a range of programmes with this in mind over the course of the six months, including proposals to advance a Youth Unemployment and Youth Guarantee scheme, to promote job-friendly investment and to restore Ireland’s reputation in Europe.
“However, most importantly, Ireland needs to use the platform of the Presidency to fight for a deal on banking debt as part of the proposals for banking union in Europe. An agreement on banking debt will aid both Ireland and the European Union’s recovery, and will ease the unbearable burden on the Irish and European taxpayer.
“This will be my number one priority over the course of the six months and one which I feel will have a dramatic effect on Ireland’s ability to emerge from this recession and to start creating local jobs once more.”