Statements on EU Presidency

29th May, 2012

Ireland will hold the Presidency of the European Union for the first six months of 2013 and as part of the preparation for our Presidency, a debate was held in the Dail to discuss some of the challenges that we might face. In that debate, I outlined my own views about the concerns I have about rise of parties in both the extreme left and right across Europe right now. The idea that anti-euro and anti-globalisation are part of mainstream political opinion following the French Presidential Election means it will be much harder to find an answer to the economic and political challenges facing Europe and the European Union at this time.

I made the point that the centre left and the centre right must set aside their differences to respond to this crisis. Both ends of the political spectrum have far more in common than not. If responsible parties cannot come together to preserve the euro and generate economic growth the political consequences will be severe and, I fear, very damaging. I pointed to the recent observation of Niall Ferguson who argued that we must now fear the political consequences of austerity more than the economic consequences.

A vital part of how we respond to this lies in ensuring the proceeds of growth in the coming years are distributed equally and fairly and those dividends must not be concentrated at the top. The stakes could not be higher.