Navigation path

Key Achievements of the Irish Presidency 2013
E-mail this pageE-mail this pagePrintPrint

Logo of the Irish PresidencyFor the first six months of 2013 all eyes in Europe were firmly focused on Ireland. From January 1st to June 30th Ireland hosted the Presidency of the Council of the European Union during which important decisions were needed to help generate jobs, create stability and boost growth.

Ireland’s seventh EU Presidency coincided with the 40th anniversary of membership of the European Union, and it provided a real test of its ability to negotiate agreements and act as a trusted, ‘honest broker’ on the world stage.

The challenges to make progress in key areas like employment, finance and agriculture were considerable but because of the significant achievements of Ireland’s six previous presidencies, expectations were high.

By the end of June, Ireland had passed its Presidency test with flying colours, achieving major results that can help provide sustainable employment and financial security throughout Europe.

Big wins

MFF: Getting agreement on the multi-billion euro Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) EU budget for 2014-2020 was arguably the Irish Presidency’s greatest challenge.

European Council consensus on the MFF wasn’t reached until February 2013, leaving less than five months for the tricky task of negotiating the proposed budget with the European Parliament.

The MFF suffered a setback when it was rejected by MEPs in March and it fell on Irish shoulders to negotiate on behalf of the Council in talks with the Parliament and the European Commission.

The talks continued right up until the final week of the Presidency when an historic agreement was reached on the €960 billion budget. The budget is effectively an investment in key policy areas that will help boost growth and create jobs in all Member States.

Agriculture & Rural Affairs Commissioner Dacian Ciolos with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon CoveneyCAP: The Irish Presidency had made clear from the start its determination to secure a deal on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

Agriculture Ministers reached agreement on a common position in March 2013 during negotiations led by Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

This gave the Presidency a mandate to begin negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission where contentious issues like greening measures and the redistribution of payments were thrashed out.

The talks lasted right until the end of the Presidency before a deal was eventually secured, although there are some outstanding issues that have to be resolved before final sign off.

BANKING: Making banks safer, stronger and better regulated is an EU priority goal and it was high up on the Irish Presidency’s agenda.

During the Presidency, agreement was reached with the European Parliament on the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV) that sets rules on the amount and quality of capital banks must hold.

The Presidency also successfully brokered agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), one of three pillars in a proposed Banking Union designed to protect taxpayers from failing banks.

Agreement was also reached on a Bank Recovery and Resolution (BRR) Framework - a crucial element of another Banking Union pillar, the Single Resolution Mechanism.

Progress was also made on introducing measures restricting bankers pay to make sure that pay practices don’t lead to excessive risk-taking.

The Banking Union faces more hurdles before it can become a reality but the Irish Presidency succeeded in making significant progress on the initiative.

Investing the Budget:

President Barroso with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a meeting to discuss the MFFReaching agreement on the MFF was crucial for the Irish Presidency as it would have been difficult to make progress on major policy areas without it.

The agreement means Europe can look forward to significant investment in the following areas from January 2014.

  • €373 billion in natural resources, including agriculture and rural development 
  • €325 billion in structural funds throughout Europe
  • €70 billion in research and innovation grants for researchers throughout Europe
  • €30 billion for improving European transport, energy and digital networks
  • €19 billion for the Erasmus+ Programme to support student exchanges
  • Up to €8 billion for tackling youth unemployment

More good results

Jordan Casey, the 13 year old self-taught programmer and founder and CEO of mobile games start-up Casey Games taking part in the Digital Agenda Assembly in June 2013The programme for the Irish Presidency was built around the core priorities of jobs, stability and growth. As a Member State that was one of the hardest hit by the economic crisis, Ireland was in an ideal position to lead the way in driving forward policies and legislation to help achieve those goals.

During the Presidency, Irish ministers and officials chaired over 2,400 meetings and represented all Member States in talks with other EU institutions such as the European Parliament.

Those talks resulted in several notable successes that will help deliver real jobs, stability and growth to Irish and European citizens. These successes included:

  • An agreement on the Youth Guarantee initiative which will provide up to €8 billion for jobs, training and education for Europe’s under 25s. Ballymun in Dublin successfully applied to be a pilot area for a Youth Guarantee scheme.
  • Securing a common position between Member States on funding programmes for key policy areas such as agriculture through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Common Fisheries Policy and research and innovation through Horizon 2020.
  • Making progress on an EU trade agreement with Japan and kick-starting talks on the historic EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), both of which will help create employment in Ireland and Europe.
  • Agreement on important ‘Two-Pack’ economic governance rules, which include special measures for monitoring the budgets of countries with excessive government deficits and Member States experiencing severe financial difficulties, such as those emerging from an EU-IMF programme like Ireland.

Funding success

The Irish Presidency also delivered key funding results that will provide thousands of jobs including:

  • A €2 billion fund for SMEs through the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME)
  • Over €3 billion to fund environmental projects through a new funding instrument to follow the Life+ programme.
  • A €16 billion Erasmus+ fund for education, training, youth and sport
  • A €30 billion Connecting Europe Facility Fund (CEF) for improving transport, energy and telecoms networks throughout Europe
  • A €70 billion research and innovation fund through Horizon 2020

Benefits for Citizens

The Irish Presidency also made progress on helping ensure EU citizens will benefit from:

  • More focus on the high-potential digital sector and better data protection for Europeans doing business and socialising online
  • Recognition of professional qualifications across the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, the US and Canada
  • A new EU environment strategy
  • More opportunities for SMEs in the EU’s €2 trillion procurement market
  • Stronger employee safety measures
  • A new EU Civil Protection Order on domestic violence
  • New mortgage credit rules to protect the consumer
  • Better protection against health pandemics
  • New pet passport rules
  • New guidelines for EU transport investment
  • Stronger focus on global hunger and climate change
  • Stricter tobacco rules
  • Improving supplementary pension rights for workers moving between member states
  • A debt recovery measure which will make it easier for businesses operating across EU borders to recover money owing to them
  • Protection of fundamental rights through the draft accession agreement of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Last update: 24/07/2013  |Top