Priorities for the Maltese Presidency- What areas are important for Irish business?

Jan 26, 2017

Emma Kerins, International Affairs Executive, Chambers Ireland attended the recent European Movement Ireland briefing on the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU. Read her report below on the areas of importance for Irish business

As the business community looks towards 2017, many challenges loom on the horizon. The consequences of Brexit have yet to become clear, the issues of migration and the subsequent integration of migrants is becoming ever more important across the EU and unemployment is still a major issue, where European Commission statistics record  a 10% rate overall and a 20.8% rate when it comes to youth unemployment. Furthermore, growth across the Eurozone is still slow, although Ireland continues to be the fastest growing economy in the EU.

These challenges make for a difficult year ahead for both the business community and the European Union. Malta takes over the European Council Presidency for the first half of 2017, to be followed by Estonia in the second half of the year. Earlier this week, Chambers Ireland attended the European Movement Ireland briefing on the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU. The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. During this 6-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council. This briefing hosted in Government Buildings and was addressed by HE Ambassador Hamilton and Minister for EU Affairs Dara Murphy.

When outlining the priorities for the presidency, the Maltese Ambassador said the presidency’s overarching objective is to restore trust in the EU. Speaking about a “crisis of confidence” in the EU and its institutions, Ambassador Hamilton said that the task for the Presidency is  make a convincing argument to its citizens that the European Union can make a positive impact on the their daily lives.

Also addressing attendees, Minister Murphy welcomed the emphasis of the Maltese Presidency on the Single Market, particularly the Digital Single Market. Minister Murphy also emphasised that Government must do more to show how the EU benefits lives and get better at communicating what the EU institutions do and how their work benefits all member states. Additionally, Minister Murphy also noted that with the departure of the UK from the European Union likely to take place in the coming 2-3 years, the Irish government must clearly set out the political and economic implications for the island of Ireland following Brexit, particularly with respect to the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Agreement. While there will be consequences for trade for many members states, Ireland will be uniquely affected by the above issues and addressing these matters must be a priority focus of the negotiations.

From the perspective of Chambers Ireland and the Irish Chamber Network, our own focus will be to prepare Irish business for the consequences of a UK exit from the EU. Our objective is to work with chambers and policy makers across the EU and in Brussels to ensure that Irish business interests are taken into consideration when the EU begins negotiations with the UK after the triggering of Article 50 in 2017.

For more information on our work, visit our website here or follow us on Twitter at @ChambersIreland

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