At the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg today there was substantive discussions on some of the most important issues facing the Irish Presidency of the EU, including enlargement and the future EU budget. EU Ministers gave Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore a clear mandate to negotiate future EU budget with European Parliament
Speaking after chairing today’s Ministerial meeting, the Tánaiste welcomed the historic agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo, under the auspices of the EU, last Friday.
The Tánaiste said:
"This is indeed an historic moment for Serbia, Kosovo as well as for Europe as a whole. I commend both Prime Minister Dacic and Prime Minister Thaci for the political courage they have shown in leading their people towards this agreement."
The Tánaiste noted the Commission’s recommendations on opening of accession negotiations with Serbia and negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo, as well as the Commission’s report in relation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
"We, the Irish Presidency, will now take forward consideration among member states of the Commission’s reports by on all three countries before coming back in June with a view to taking decisions."
The Tánaiste also received a clear mandate from Ministers to rapidly take forward negotiations with the European Parliament on the future of the EU budget, the multi annual financial framework.
The Tánaiste said:
"Having heard the Parliament’s concerns, and having listened very carefully to the views of member states, I am convinced that we can, with sufficient goodwill on all sides, find the compromises necessary to reach a satisfactory agreement on the MFF.
"We do not have any time to waste in advancing our MFF discussions. We need to be able to reassure our citizens that new EU programmes will be in place in time for the beginning of next year.
"For our part in the Irish Presidency, taking forward negotiations will be a top priority for us in the coming weeks."
At Council today, the Ministers also had a discussion on ideas to safeguard the rule of law and other values fundamental to the European Union.