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Priorities of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012 - News - Young Fine Gael

Priorities of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012

Young Fine Gael International Committee

"Priorities of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012"

European Parliament Offices, Molesworth St., Dublin 2.

Thursday 23rd February 8pm.

Hosted by Gay Mitchell MEP

with Guest Speakers:

H.E. The Danish Ambassador, Niels Pultz

Former Taoiseach and EU Ambassador to the United States, John Bruton

Former Senator, Eugene Regan

Embassy Liaison Officer, John Kennedy, opened the meeting with introductory remarks. He briefly outlined the credentials of each guest speaker. He conveyed a message from Colm Lauder imparting best wishes to the Danish Government for their seventh term as President of the Council of the European Union from the Board of the Youth of the EPP. He concluded his remarks as follows:

"Ireland is due to host the EU Presidency in 2013 and this committee would certdanish_eventainly intend to be very active participants in this.

In addition, it is hoped that this talk will impart valuable insight into the current state of the European Union and its immediate future objectives. One aspect of particular prominence in recent times has been an almost existential crisis afflicting the Euro currency. As one Prince of Denmark may have put it, some commentators may have had the attitude along the lines of "To be, or not to be - that is the question" regarding the future survival and viability of the single currency.

This evening is also an opportunity to hear the perspective of a fellow member state of similar size and population to our own country. Ireland and Denmark, for example, both have strong worldwide reputations for their respective agricultural sectors, and one question will be on the future of such industry within Europe. Denmark has had its own banking sector issues to address in some comparison with our own and one method it has attempted to adopt by way of this has been the bank specific 'Supervisory Diamond", and it was recommended by a recent OECD Economic Survey on Ireland that the Irish financial regulator should consider aspects of this tool for implementation in Ireland. This perhaps may be of very strong interest for Irish public representatives to consider, given the OECD recommendation."

Gay Mitchell MEP gave his address, as host. He outlined that the Danish and upcoming Irish presidencies present an opportunity to rescue Europe from intergovernmentalism. He expressed the view that the European People's Party now had an onerous obligation to take leadership of a renewal of Europe. He said it was time to admit the failures of the market system and its lack of oversight of lawmakers and regulators. He said that it was time to vigorously re-state the principles on which the social market economy is based.

With specific reference to the Danish Presidency, he said that he hoped that the Danish Presidency can strive to build bridges between member states where differences arise.

He outlined that Denmark has made the economic situation its main priority, though at the same time, the Presidency is striving for results in other key policy areas such as environmental protection, development of the single market and the strengthening of the Schengen system. The Danish Presidency theme of "Europe at Work", was very apt, he said.

H.E. Ambassador Niels Pultz gave a presentation. His overview consisted of the following:

1. The organisation of the Presidency

2. The role of the Presidency

3. The priorities of the Presidency

He said that the Presidency would be measured on its ability to deliver concrete results and by working as an honest broker. He highlighted that Denmark was a firm believer in the European project. He said that the Presidency was being held at a time when the EU was facing perhaps its biggest challenge ever, and there was a risk that crisis could hijack the agenda.

Under the remit of the "Europe at Work" philosophy, the Ambassador categorized the priorities of the Presidency under these headings:

1. A responsible Europe

2. A dynamic Europe

3. A green Europe

4. A safe Europe

On the Fiscal Compact, he outlined that Denmark participates in all aspects compatible with Euro opt-out. He made reference to the speech given by Danish European Minister, Nicolai Wammen, in Dublin at the Institute of International and European Affairs on 10th February, where the Minister said that the Fiscal Compact was being strongly supported by Denmark.

In relation to the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, he highlighted that development of this was a strong aim of the Presidency, with particular examples of this being with respect to Agricultural Policy and a Research and Development Programme.

A part of a Dynamic Europe, the Presidency would aim to stimulate long-term growth and job creation across Europe. Denmark would seek to promote the Single Market and the Ambassador mentioned in particular the unfulfilled potential of the Digital Single Market which could reap benefits.

In the promotion of a "green" Europe, the Presidency will work for: Energy and climate roadmaps; establishment of a single market for energy; expansion of European energy infrastructure; a strong European voice at UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development; Cross-cutting energy, climate and environmental considerations in EU policies. The Ambassador made reference to the huge potential for new climate-related solutions and, accordingly, new jobs related to this area.

In relation to a "safe Europe", reference was made to the need to finalise a common European Asylum System. He also made reference to the fact that the Presidency supports a stronger voice for the EU in global affairs, i.e., for a common European approach. Denmark will support and assist the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. There are also Enlargement negotiations with Iceland, Turkey and possibly FYROM to be conducted, with possible consideration of future negotiations in relation to Montenegro and on possible candidate status for Serbia.

The Ambassador (separate to the Danish Presidency) also outlined details of the Danish "Supervisory Diamond" for banks introduced in 2010. The five limit values for banks under the "Supervisory Diamond" were given as follows:

- Sum of large exposures (less than 125% of total capital)

- Lending growth (less than 20% per year)

- Commercial property exposure (less than 25% of total loans)

- Stable funding (lending/working capital - less bond issuance with remaining maturity less than 1 year). Limit value, less than 1.

- Excess liquidity coverage (greater than 50%)

John Bruton gave an address. He said that he agreed with Gay Mitchell MEP when he said that there was a need for competition and solidarity within the social market economy that must not be mutually exclusive.

He outlined a number of challenges facing Europe. By 2050, it is predicted that the number of retired persons in the population will have dramatically increased. He said that the financial crisis had woken up the markets.

He expressed views along the lines that greater US and European co-operation on the greater challenges facing the World would be of benefit. He noted that 23rd February recorded the highest ever price for oil and energy remained a huge challenge required strong global co-operation. There were 27 different energy markets to deal with in this respect.

He raised points with respect to the Fiscal Compact. Current EU policies in general could be said to favour savers over borrowers in that the ECB is reluctant to engage in "quantitative easing" for fear of fuelling inflation. He observed, that, typically, people over the age of 55 are spending just as much as ever but that there was a trend that a younger generation have become more conservative in this respect.

He outlined his view that the Europe faced very significant challenges, almost akin to an "existential crisis" due to issues surrounding intergovernmentalism. He said there was strong need for public, Europe-wide elections for the Presidency of the Commission and that also of the Council.

Eugene Regan gave an address. He praised Young Fine Gael for the positive role it plays within the Fine Gael organisation. He said that his speech would focus upon the areas of justice and home affairs.

He noted that Denmark intended to hold two referendums on two Danish opt-outs in relation to defence and justice.

He raised the subject of the Copenhagen Principle as adopted in 1993 and more expressly set out in the Amsterdam Treaty.

He said it was important to underline the role played by John Bruton as Chair of the JHA

Working Group of the Convention on the Future of Europe, which had previously, in a report, suggested a system of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in certain criminal justice matters.

He mentioned points in relation to a Common European Asylum system and also in an European Arrest Warrant.

He made reference also to the previous agreement that Ireland would review, after three years after adoption by other member states, its opt-out on

new EU procedures aimed at a common approach to cross-border crime.

A Questions and Answers session followed.

The President of Young Fine Gael, Patrick Molloy gave a brief address and thanked the International Committee, Gay Mitchell MEP, H.E. Ambassador Niels Pultz, John Bruton, Eugene Regan and John Kennedy.

John Kennedy closed the meeting by making a presentation to the four speakers.

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