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:
- 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)
- Investing in sustainable jobs and growth (including deepening the single market, tackling youth unemployment and encouraging smart and sustainable growth)
- 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:
— Blaine Gaffney (@blainesligonew) June 19, 2013