Representation in Ireland

European Commission

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

On 12 September 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver the latest State of the Union speech of his presidency. 

To mark this occasion, the Institute of International and European Affairs and the European Commission Representation in Ireland will co-host a live screening of President Juncker’s address to the European Parliament, followed by discussion among an expert panel on the key messages of the speech and the outlook for the remainder of President Juncker’s tenure.

Date: 
12/09/2018 - 07:30 to 10:00

The speech will be web-streamed live below.

The Panel speakers include:

  • Dr Mary C. Murphy, Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration at University College Cork;
  • Barry Andrews, Director General of the Institute of International and European Affairs;
  • Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland.

The discussion will be moderated by Gerry Kiely, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Ireland.

The event takes place at Europe House, 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, from 7.30 to 10 am.

If you are interested in attending this event, please register in advance at: https://www.iiea.com/event/state-of-the-european-union-live-streaming-and-panel-discussion/

Finally, ‘This Time I’m Voting’ – Promoting the 2019 European Elections - In May 2019, Europeans will head to the polls and cast their vote in the 2019 European elections. From climate change to Brexit, Europe has faced numerous challenges in recent years. The European Parliament is looking to build a community of supporters to encourage people to vote in the next election. The goal is not to advocate whom people should vote for: it is to advocate the act of voting itself, the act of engaging in the democratic process; and the act of doing so in a conscious and fully informed way.

If you are interested in being part of this campaign, the European Parliament will be hosting a Welcome Event directly after the panel discussion. For further information, please contact Michael Bruton, European Parliament Liaison Office in Ireland, Tel: 01 6057922, email: michael.bruton@ep.europa.eu.

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EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Ahead of the Informal Leaders' meeting on 23 February 2018, the European Commission has presented a number of practical steps that could make the European Union's work more efficient, and improve the connection between the leaders of the EU institutions and the citizens of Europe.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "With the Bratislava Roadmap, the Rome Declaration and now the Leaders' Agenda, Europe has rightly been focused on creating a Union that delivers concrete and tangible results for its citizens on the issues that matter to them. We must continue on this path. I have always said that form should follow function – now is not the time for long discussions of institutional reform or Treaty change. There are, however, a number of steps we can take to make our work even more efficient in delivering on our key priorities. There are many options but the goal must be one and the same: creating a Europe that delivers."

14/02/2018

Lead Candidates: Building on the 2014 "Spitzenkandidaten" experience

The 2014 election process strengthened the relationship between the three EU institutions and improved the efficiency of their work. It helped them to align themselves around a common work programme for the five year mandate. This is what enabled the Juncker Commission to work in a more political way and concentrate on where the Union delivers the best results, leaving the rest to Member States.

In his 2017 State of the Union Address, President Juncker said that the 2014 'lead candidate' experiment should continue. Today, the European Commission is setting out how the process can be improved on the basis of the current Treaties while respecting the balance between the EU institutions and among the Member States. This includes calling on political parties to make an earlier choice of the lead candidates, before the end of 2018, and for an earlier start to the campaign. This would give voters more opportunity to identify with the candidates and the political programmes they stand for.

The Commission is also recommending the link between national parties and European parties be made more visible. Political parties at national level should boost transparency about the European parties they are affiliated to, for example by using their logos in campaign and ballot material. They should also position themselves clearly on important European issues and express their intention for participating in political groups in the European Parliament and their choice for European Commission President.

Composition of the European Parliament and the European Commission

Leaders in the European Council have to decide – on the basis of a proposal from the European Parliament – on the composition of the European Parliament for the 2019-2024 term and what to do with the seats left vacant by the UK. One option is to reserve a number of these seats for a transnational constituency. Whilst in a recent Resolution (from 7 February), the European Parliament voted not to call for the creation of a transnational constituency, it did leave the door open for future debates. A number of Member States have recently expressed support for this idea, whereas others have expressed their disagreement with its establishment. A transnational constituency could strengthen the European dimension of the election by giving candidates the possibility to reach more citizens across Europe. On the other hand, parliamentarians normally represent and communicate closely with the voters who elected them on a local or national level, both for reasons of accountability and to be able to raise concerns of their constituents. The Commission is sympathetic to the idea of transnational lists, but this will require unanimous agreement of the Council, and changes to electoral law in all 27 Member States in the next year to be applied for the 2019 elections.

The College of Commissioners currently consists of 28 members, one from each Member State – in line with a Decision of the European Council from 22 May 2013. Before the next European Commission is appointed, leaders will have to decide whether to maintain the principle of one Member from each Member State, or to make the Commission smaller. A smaller executive would in theory be more efficient in its operation, easier to manage and would allow a more balanced distribution of portfolios. But a smaller Commission would also mean that some Member States would not be represented at the political level of the institution, and would lose the advantage of maintaining a direct political communication channel with their citizens and national authorities.

A Double-Hatted President for the Commission and Council

In his State of the Union speech in 2017, President Juncker first suggested the idea of a double-hatted President. A single person holding the two offices of President of the European Council and President of the European Commission could make the structure of the Union more efficient. This is possible under the current Treaties. A dual appointment does not require merging the two institutions. The President of the European Commission is already a Member of the European Council, and neither of the two Presidents vote in the European Council; their role is to advise, bring input from the work of their services, help to build bridges and map out common ground.

Citizens' Dialogues

The European Commission regularly organises Citizens' Dialogues with Members of the Commission, the European Parliament, national governments, local and regional authorities and civil society representatives. Almost 500 of these interactive public debates have been held in 160 locations since 2012, and the Commission will increase their frequency between now and the European elections in May 2019, with a target of reaching around 500 more events. The Commission also welcomes the initiatives of individual Member States to organise their own national conversations with citizens on the future of Europe and is ready to offer its support where it can, for example by linking the process to the online consultation on the future of Europe which could remain open until 9 May 2019. The Commission will share the benefits of its experience with Member States.

Background

Today's proposed ideas and options are a direct follow-up to the European Commission's report (from 8 May 2015) on the 2014 European Parliament elections which pledged to identify ways of further enhancing the European dimension and the democratic legitimacy of the EU decision-making process, and to examine further, and seek to address, the reasons for the persistently low turnout in some Member States.

For more information

Communication: A Europe that Delivers: Institutional options for making the EU's work more efficient

Recommendation: on enhancing the European nature and efficient conduct of the 2019 elections to the European Parliament

European Commission Report on the 2014 European Parliament elections

2018 report on European and municipal elections

Factsheets:

  • Options for making the European Union's work more efficient
  • The composition of the European Parliament and European Council – what to expect in 2019
  • The birth of the 'Spitzenkadidaten' and the 2014 European election campaign
  • Dialogue with citizens ahead of the European elections
  • New rules for making the 2019 European elections more transparent
  • A double-hatted President?
  • Visits and meetings of Members of the Commission with national Parliaments since the beginning of the mandate

The Irish Government’s Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the European Commission are jointly organising a conference: 'Irish as a full official and working language of the EU'. It will take place in the Aston Suite, O'Callaghan Alexander Hotel, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 on 21 October 2016 at 9.00am. The conference opens with keynote speeches from Mr Seán Kyne T.D., Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Mr Rytis Martikonis, Director General, Directorate-General for Translation, European Commission.

14/10/2016

Following Ireland's decision to make Irish a full official and working language of the EU as of January 2022, the EU institutions are preparing to implement the measures required to give effect to that decision. Successful completion of this work will require close cooperation between the EU institutions and Ireland to build up the human, technical and linguistic resources required. This conference brings together the main stakeholders in this project.

The programme will encompass many aspects of the ongoing and future work of supplying qualified professionals for the full Irish language regime, including the preparation of candidates for the competitions, building the freelance sector, developing linguistic resources, interpreting and machine technology for Irish. An interpretation service will be provided at the conference. There will be a Question and Answer session for the participants and opportunities for the press to interview speakers and participants during the breaks.

 

Annual events

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We note the media reports stating that in the event of a UK withdrawal from the EU, English would cease to be an official language of the EU.

This is incorrect. The Council of Ministers, acting unanimously, decide on the rules governing the use of languages by the European institutions. In other words, any change to the EU Institutions'  language regime is subject to a unanimous vote of the Council, including Ireland.

27/06/2016

These provisions are contained in Article 342 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
 

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EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan
EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "I regret but respect the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.  I echo the call of President Juncker for a swift and decisive negotiation, pursuant to Article 50, in the interests of both sides.  It's essential that we set in train the essential steps to bring clarity and stability to the 27 member bloc as quickly as possible."

23/06/2016

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EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

President Schulz, President Tusk and Prime Minister Rutte met this morning in Brussels upon the invitation of European Commission President Juncker. They discussed the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum and made the following joint statement:

23/06/2016

"In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it.

This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We will stand strong and uphold the EU's core values of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples. The Union of 27 Member States will continue. The Union is the framework of our common political future. We are bound together by history, geography and common interests and will develop our cooperation on this basis. Together we will address our common challenges to generate growth, increase prosperity and ensure a safe and secure environment for our citizens. The institutions will play their full role in this endeavour.

We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty. We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the European Union. We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this. According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member.

As agreed, the “New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union”, reached at the European Council on 18-19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation.

As regards the United Kingdom, we hope to have it as a close partner of the European Union in the future. We expect the United Kingdom to formulate its proposals in this respect. Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations.”

Further information

UK Referendum on Membership of the European Union: Questions & Answers

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Mayor of Galway Councillor Noel Larking accepting the Award in Ljubljana
Mayor of Galway Councillor Noel Larking accepting the Award in Ljubljana

Galway City has won the EU's prestigious European Green Leaf Environmental Award.

The City was chosen from hundreds of urban centres across Europe with populations under 100,000 as Europe's most environmentally friendly small city. The announcement was made last night in Ljubljana, Slovenia (last year's "Green Capital" winner) and the award was presented by the European Commission to the Mayor of Galway, Councillor Noel Larkin.

22/06/2016

The jury particularly appreciated Galway’s approach to green growth and support of SMEs, as well as their commitment to education and enthusiasm in becoming a Green Ambassador in 2017 and beyond.

Two-thirds of Europeans live in towns and cities. Their health and well-being depends on how well city authorities address environmental challenges. The European Green Leaf Award recognises the remarkable efforts of environmentally-friendly cities.

Winners of this award have to demonstrate well-established records of high environmental standards and a commitment to setting ambitious goals for future environmental progress, underpinned by the practical application of sustainable development. The schemes have a particular focus on green growth and job creation. Winners act as role models and inspire other cities to make their urban spaces sustainable and ultimately more enjoyable places in which to live, work and play.

The Jury was made up of experts from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, the European Environment Agency, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Covenant of Mayors Office and the European Environmental Bureau.

Green Leaf applications are assessed on the basis of six topic areas, including climate change and energy performance, mobility, biodiversity and land use, quality of air and the acoustic environment, waste management and circular economy, and water and wastewater management. Cities are judged shortlisted for both awards following a technical evaluation.

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