Featured Article 02 Jan 2013

Ireland has begun its seventh Presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June 2013) and the European Year of Citizens.

Eu2013.ie  is up and running with everything you need to know about the Irish Presidency.

At the ceremony on 31st December,  launching Ireland’s Presidency, An Taoiseach said -

‘It is the year’s end and its beginning.  A time for Ireland  to commemorate and celebrate. A time for Europe to remember and re-dedicate.

Here at home, we celebrate 40 years as members of the European Union.  This is an era of new possibility, opportunity, indeed, transformation  for our country. In 1973 in Ireland, there were 26,000 people in Third-level education. Today, there are over six-times that number.   There were 280,000 women working outside the home.  Today that figure is almost three-fold.  This year, we exported 54-billion-euro worth of goods to the EU. That’s more than half of all our exports.

Since 1973 our Union has strengthened, deepened and our proud European family has grown.
Today, our Union embraces 27 countries stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals. Tomorrow, Ireland assumes the EU Presidency for the seventh time, taking over from Cyprus.

In these four decades, our relationship with Europe and the world has been transformed for the better.
Our relationship with our nearest neighbour has been transformed for the better.

And relationships within this island have been transformed for the better, through both peace and prosperity.

EU membership has provided a crucial backdrop for these economic and social transformations. Our standing as a Member State has changed beyond recognition through our place at the European table. Through our access to the European market and through our development into one of the most open and dynamic economies in the world.

Today, Europe is working hard to move beyond the recent economic crisis which has affected so many citizens’ and families’ lives.

We know all too well here in Ireland the huge sacrifices the crisis has meant. The people of Europe and Ireland need to know there is progress. That there is a next step to recovery.

That a return to growth, as this country has now achieved, will lead on to job creation.  That this recovery everyone has worked so hard for is a proper and meaningful recovery that lasts. So the Irish Presidency in 2013 will be about three simple but crucial words. Stability, Jobs and Growth.

There are real actions to back up each of those three words. We’ll be in the business of solutions – a recovery country driving recovery in Europe. Today as we raise these flags Ireland shows it keeps faith with Europe and its peoples.

Recently in Berlin, I spoke of Ireland’s particular idea - our sense of Europe. A Europe where despite our differences we know we dwell best and deepest, always in the shelter, never in the shadow of the other.

So let this New Presidency in this New Year, this European Year of the Citizen bring new hope, new possibility, new confidence to our peoples.

Above all, may it find that together as a family we are making a richer and more sustainable future for all our peoples.’


 

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