On 1 July 2013, Lithuania took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Ireland. The Irish Presidency began in January 2013 and was responsible for organising and setting the agenda for the Council of the European Union (which is made up of ministers from the national governments of each EU member state).

Despite the responsibilities of the Presidency having been reduced by the Lisbon Treaty (which introduced a permanent President of the European Council, currently Mr. Herman Van Rompuy), the Presidency is still an important job, and the position rotates between EU member states every 6 months.

The Irish Presidency set itself three main priorities during its term:

  1. To secure economic stability (including putting in place a European banking union, reaching final agreement on the next EU budget and discussing the next steps for economic and monetary union)
  2. Investing in sustainable jobs and growth (including deepening the single market, tackling youth unemployment and encouraging smart and sustainable growth)
  3. Europe and the world (including fighting global hunger and poverty, renewing EU leadership on climate change and encouraging international trade)

To talk a bit about what Ireland has achieved, last week we spoke to Lucinda Creighton, Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs. Taking over the European Presidency can be a pretty grueling exercise for any country, involving long hours and lots of time away from family. However, even by these standards Creighton has been particularly active, visiting 44 countries and spending a record 11 hours in a single sitting in the European Parliament chamber in Strasbourg. Was this time well spent?

We started with a question from David sent in through Facebook, asking the classic job interview question:

How successful does she believe Ireland was in leading the Council and how could the task have been performed more effectively?

Next, we had a question sent in on Twitter from Blaine, asking Lucinda Creighton what she thought the Lithuanian Presidency could learn from Ireland’s experience:

38 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think? Was the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU a success? Do you feel it delivered on its priorities to secure economic stability, invest in sustainable jobs and growth and encourage European engagement in the world? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we'll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

  1. avatar

    Reaching agreement in the EU Budget, Achieving agreement on the CAP reforms, development of a youth guarantee, development of policies for growth and job creation, development of talks for an EU-US free trade agreement, banking union!!! All equals a successful presidency for Ireland!

  2. avatar

    There was an Irish ‘presidency’? Undoubtedly much money was wasted on 5 star hotels and 5 star lunches whilst EU politicians drove millions into unemployment through the wealth-destroying Euro. Shameless.

    • avatar
      Jack O'Neil

      Actually the Irish government aimed to keep costs at a minimum. The venues were state owned – most taking place in the single location of Dublin Castle. Delegates from each country were encouraged to use public transport and the Dublin bike scheme, with cars being reserved only for the heads of the delegations and a small number of others. Tap water was served at all meetings instead of bottled water. There are many other examples of this aswell:

  3. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Em tempos de criseãs governações são mais dificeis os paises com dificuldades ecionomicas estão na mesma a Presidência Irlandesa fez o que pode os estados da UE devem trabalhar mais e melhor para o crescimento economico é preciso ganhar o futuro é isso que não esta acontecer dentro da UE porque temos a riquesa a quase destruida e as taxas do desemprego altas

  4. avatar
    Paul Galbally

    The EU needs to become a confederation at some point, the supra-national system has been brought to the limit of what it can achieve, in my own opinion. A European Confederation based on the Eurozone is the best option for the long term stability of the continent.

    • avatar

      Can we please get out of the Eurozone before such a Confederation is made?
      The people here would prefer not to shackle ourselves to a corpse.

      The Netherlands

    • avatar
      Jack O'Neil

      People don’t want it. Europe claims to be a democracy, so it needs to focus on its peoples views of what they want Europe to be, rather than on the views of a tiny minority who want confederation or federalism.

  5. avatar

    Effective as a “global actor”? The EU has no genuine policy apart from the USA. We are just witnessing this again in observing its reaction to the NSA snooping.
    EU institution often act like being US protectorate administrations. Just watch the conduct of Barroso or Baroness Ashton, for example.

    From GALILEO to SWIFT, everything reflects more US than European interests. Experts already tell us that Transatlantic “free trade” will mainly be in the interest of the US (and maybe the UK), but it is Merkel who first suggested negotiations publicly. What a shame.

    It is still the larger nations nations (UK, DE, FR) who have potentials for being “global actors”, although in cooperation. But it is not the current EU which could help, rather a new kind of organization and, first of all, emancipation from the US.

  6. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    It is a disgrace that countries like Ireland have an EU presidency term of 6 months -just the same time period as the UK, France & Italy each with 12 TIMES the population of Ireland.

    • avatar

      That’s the whole point behind the Eurosoviet Union (EU). It was always supposed to be undemocratic. Severing the link between voter and law was the goal and they are succeeding.

    • avatar
      Jack O'Neil

      You have to consider what you mean by democracy. The EU is made up of separate member states. The reality is, each acts in its own interest. All countries naturally are only in the EU for the benefits it gives them. As we have seen in this crisis, the big countries only act in their own interest. Therefore saying that power in the EU should be proportional to size is in fact undemocratic. By your theory, should power in the UN not be based on population size? Should China and India not have a third of all power in the UN between them by your theory?
      The EU is a union of countries. As we have seen, countries who are tricked into acting in “the European interest” suffer.
      So population is irrelevant. Imagine if we voted for the Council’s President. Someone from a big nation would win every time, or the individual backed by the leaders of the big nations would.
      Your statement is the opposite of democracy, because it would only give big countries, who currently have too much power, even more.

  7. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Let’s face it.. The EU is simply a huge market, the biggest on the planet.. That’s all… Bazaar L’Europe!! But when it comes to political power and influence, the EU is a dwarf.. Because its members want it to be so… Until Europe decides to learn to speak with one voice, don’t expect any changes in that front..

    • avatar
      Jack O'Neil

      But how can we speak with one voice if it so often differs. Look at every major international conflict in recent years – EU states have all taken different views eg. Iraq, Syria (with member states contradicting individually what was agreed together at EU level), Israel- Palestine etc. To speak with a common voice we have to have a common view – which we very often don’t

  8. avatar
    Palma Muñoz Morquilla

    I wish one day all the european member states would be represented by their common authority, the President of the EU, elected democratically in the european election by the european citizens. But the story of the EU is a movement made step by step, two steps forward and one step backward, and so I am happy to see at least that both the President of the Council and the President of the European Commission are also today in the summit, saying to the world that the Eurpean Union exists and has a word to say in all these issues. I am in my forties and I dream and I wish to live enough to see one day a European President representing a strong and democratic Europe

    • avatar
      Jack O'Neil

      The problem with many who hold this view is that they often contradict democracy. They think “the people” have to be guided to Federalism, without them realising. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of “the people” don’t want federalism, the EU Institutions and bureaucrats still aim for it.
      It shows that if we ever federalise, it will be anything but democratic, because its roots will not be.

  9. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    On economic matters like WTO negotiations, absolutely. On security matters, not at all. If you take a look at how the institutions which regulate trade and commercial policy are federalized, while security and defense matters are handled by 28 different cooks in the same kitchen, it is obvious what is needed.

  10. avatar
    Jack O'Neil

    It was successful in relation to the power it had to achieve its aims. Shame that Lucinda is no longer in government, booted out for standing up for her views.

  11. avatar
    Alex Semiserios

    The EU is an artificial construct. The more we fool ourselves into believing otherwise, the more apparent it will be. There is no “European” sense of identity. The EU should focus on dialogue, fairness and consensus between its member states, and not on trying to maintain a sense of global importance while failing to keep a balance between its own member states.

  12. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    There is no place for the garden gnomes like Rumpy, Barosso or Shultz in the Premier league.

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