The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore this morning chaired the General Affairs Council discussion on negotiations on the EU’s €960 billion multi-annual budget for 2014-2020.
The Tánaiste took the opportunity of today’s meeting to give his Ministerial colleagues a frank assessment of the current situation.
Speaking after the meeting, the Tánaiste said
I received today the very strong backing of my Ministerial colleagues for our approach to these negotiations.
The Tánaiste outlined Irish Presidency plans to intensify discussions with the Parliament on the MFF, including meetings this week in Strasbourg. The Tánaiste will return to Brussels next week for a further political trilogue.
Speaking on the prospects for a deal in the talks, the Tánaiste said
“It is in everyone’s interest that we reach agreement on the MFF before the summer.
There is nothing extra to be gained by waiting until after the summer to reach this agreement.
On the contrary, we cannot afford to in any way call into question the continuity of EU programmes. We need predictability.”
Tánaiste - "There is nothing extra to be gained by waiting until after the summer to reach this agreement"
The Tánaiste concluded,
“The time has come for us to get down to business. We need to get down to the key issues of interest to the European Parliament. It is too late now for new elements to be introduced into the talks.
I believe we can still reach political agreement on the MFF by the end of June. But that will require the sincere cooperation of the Parliament.
For our part, as Presidency, we will not be found lacking in commitment or determination.”
The Tánaiste also chaired discussions on the tax and energy issues on the agenda of tomorrow’s European Council, being chaired by President Herman Van Rompuy.
The Tánaiste said
“Tax and energy are two key issues with a considerable contribution to make to generating growth and jobs and to improving European competitiveness. We welcome President Van Rompuy’s initiative to focus attention on these issues.”
On energy, the Tánaiste said
“High energy prices are having a real impact on competitiveness across Europe. We need to focus our efforts on the completion of the internal energy market, investment in modern energy infrastructure, as well as the challenge of high energy prices.”
The Irish Presidency has also stressed that accelerating the energy efficiency agenda has the potential to create significant jobs across the EU, while at the same time reducing and better managing energy consumption.
On tax, the Tánaiste noted that the Irish Presidency has brought forward a range of concrete proposals at EU level, both short term and long term, aimed at fighting tax evasion and tax fraud.