Ireland’s 2013 EU Presidency

19/04/2012 at 2:44 pm 2 comments

In January 2013, Ireland will take over the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

As we set out in this blog post, this means that, for the first six months of 2013, Ireland will have a unique opportunity to influence the key decisions to be taken by the EU, including the new 7-year Budget for the EU, and for key policy areas such as the Common Agricultural Policy.

According to Minister for Europe, Lucinda Creighton, holding the EU presidency next year will give Ireland an opportunity to manage the EU agenda and “find ways of advancing policies that will improve the lives of people in Ireland and abroad”.

And it is clear that the Government intends to put a strong emphasis on the EU’s role abroad: the Government  is hoping to host a meeting of the EU’s Development Ministers early on in the Presidency period, and it is also planning to organise a high-level conference looking at issues relating to Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Change.

Setting new priorities for Ireland’s overseas aid

Interestingly, the Government also intends to publish its Review of the Irish Aid programme, just weeks before the start of the EU Presidency.

“The Review of the White Paper, and the Irish Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2013, presents us with an opportunity to draw from [the Busan, Rio+20 and MDG Review] processes, and – critically – to bring the various strands together – breaking down any artificial barriers that exist between sustainable development, hunger, climate change, human rights, gender and other priority issues,” said Minister for Overseas Aid, Joe Costello TD in the Oireachtas.

The EU is a big aid donor: In 2011, EU member states and institutions together contributed some €53 billion on official development assistance, almost half of the world total.

Earlier this year, the European Commission indicated that it wants to change the direction of EU aid, by publishing its “Agenda for Change” document. In addition, it has proposed that the EU’s new budget should see a 9% increase in funding for “external relations”, which includes overseas aid.

These changes will provide a backdrop for the discussions on the review of Ireland’s overseas aid programme. But, as the Minister said, “the Presidency also provides an opportunity to highlight and further Ireland’s development and humanitarian priorities.”

“A new Model of Development” – and the importance of having your say!

Dóchas is convinced that the Irish EU Presidency provides an excellent opportunity to re-think our models of Development.

The current global economic and ecological crises provide a driver – and the Rio summit, the aid reviews and the Review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide the opportunity – for change.

We will therefore use the period of the Irish Presidency to promote a nation-wide debate about the type of “Development” we want to see, in Ireland, and by extension, in the world.

And we won’t do so in a vacuum: During the Irish Presidency the EU must develop its negotiating position for a UN Summit in September 2013, which will set a new “recipe” for Development, to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015.

We will be working to ensure that the post-MDG framework does not simply articulate an extension of current practice, but rather captures an inclusive, sustainable and just set of solutions to some of the biggest global challenges that are facing mankind: economic inequality, social instability, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, climate chaos and political exclusion of vast numbers of people.

A tall order, we know, but a possibility – as well as a necessity.

Further reading:

Click on the picture to find more documents on the topic of the Future Priorities for Development:

Also check out our interactive EU Presidency time-line.

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