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Ireland’s Council presidency promises stability and growth

Ireland took over the presidency of the Council of Ministers on 1 January, pledging to bring “stability, jobs, and growth” over the next six months.

Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Eamon Gilmore and minister of state for European affairs Lucinda Creighton announced the presidency’s priorities in December.

Creighton said they would “proceed quickly with negotiations” on the budget for Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme for 2014-2020. The Horizon 2020 budget has been a source of significant disagreement among the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers over the past year. The Commission initially proposed a budget of €80 billion, the Parliament asked for €100bn, while the Council wants to see a budget smaller than the Commission’s original proposal

The other priorities will be tackling youth unemployment and pushing for economic growth, the ministers said. Citing measures to boost economic growth, Gilmore said: “We are prioritising several measures that will help our [small and medium-sized enterprises] tap into more public procurement opportunities and get better access to credit and research funding.”

He added that to support small businesses, it would be important to reach agreement on the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme.

Gilmore also said that “the digital sector offers real potential for growth and job creation, particularly for young people”. He said the Irish presidency has a “significant legislative package” on its agenda in this area and wants to focus on reforming EU data protection and privacy rules.

This is Ireland’s seventh Council presidency. On 1 July 2013, the position will rotate to Lithuania, which will take on the role for the first time.