After today’s General Affairs Council, the President of the Council, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, spoke about the EU’s next Multi-Annual Financial Framework:
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: What Europe needs now is certainty.
The Tánaiste said, "I think that there is an appreciation in Member States and EU institutions on the importance of concluding an agreement on the next 7 year EU budget – for the signal that sends to Europe itself, to its citizens, political institutions and the wider world. There is a very big prize to be achieved. Failure to reach agreement creates an additional problem that Europe can do without. There is a sense in Europe that we need to move on and to make progress. Europe cannot continue to be just bogged down in crisis discussion. Getting agreement on MFF is hugely important in that context. It will create certainty, stability and confidence in Europe that, in turn, will encourage investment and growth."
The General Affairs Council today also focussed on trade and external relations.
On trade, the Tánaiste said:
“We agreed today to energetically pursue trade opportunities. This is a priority for the Irish Presidency. In particular we aim to make progress on an EU-US Free Trade Agreement. I hope that we will soon see the publication of the High Level Working Group report on this”.
On external relations, the General Affairs Council focussed on relations with the Southern Neighbourhood since the Arab Spring. The Tánaiste said
"We agreed today to remain committed to our partnership with our Southern Neighbours, to support them in their political and economic transition."