Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU and 40th anniversary of the EU membership
Today, Ireland begins its seventh Council presidency. This year also marks the 40th anniversary since Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom joined the EU.
This year marks an important anniversary for Ireland, as it celebrates 40 years as an EU member state. Ireland has undergone a radical transformation since 1973, developing into a modern, open economy driven by hi-tech industry and global exports. In the last 40 years, peace has returned to Northern Ireland, Irish has become the 23rd official language of the EU and the country has joined the single currency.
This year also marks 40 years since Denmark and the United Kingdom joined the European Union. I believe both countries have benefited greatly from EU membership.
As an engaged, innovative, creative and efficient country, Denmark has shown that the EU social model and competitiveness can go hand in hand. Denmark is a country that is open to the world and has a strong commitment to the European values of equality, democracy and social justice. Throughout these four decades, and particularly during the Danish presidency in 2012, Denmark has demonstrated great community spirit.
The Union we have today has been significantly shaped by the contribution of successful UK governments. The UK has been, and continues to be, a driving force behind the single market, which allows 500 million people to travel, live and do business across 27 member states. I believe that Europe with the UK at its heart is more reform-driven, more open and more international. I recognise that it has not always been an easy relationship, and that it has been bumpy at times, but acting through the European Union, the UK has a much stronger role in the world.