Ireland's EU Presidency - A Unique Challenge: Minister Roche
Minister of State Dick Roche described the forthcoming Irish Presidency of the EU as a “unique challenge and an opportunity for Ireland to play a key part in the future of Europe.”
The Minister, who was addressing a seminar “Planning the Presidency” held at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, pointed out that from an operational point of view, Irelands' sixth Presidency of the European Union is very much upon us. The first engagement of Ireland's Presidency had already been held, when we participated in the Social Summit. In July, Ireland will become part of the “Troika” of states, which drives the Union. The formal Presidency itself is only nine months away.
Minister Roche said, “The sixth Presidency presents us with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. It will be Ireland's great privilege to preside in May 2004 over the expected accession of ten new member states.
The transition from a community of fifteen to a community of twenty-five member states will be a major challenge for Ireland. If we successfully manage this transition, it will be an enduring legacy for the continued progress and development of the European Union.
At this stage, it looks highly likely that the intergovernmental conference, which would be established in response to the work of the Convention on the future of Europe would conclude its work during the Irish Presidency. That makes the prospect of a Treaty of Dublin a very real prospect indeed. Whatever the Treaty is called, we will play a key role in its formulation.
We have already done a huge amount of work in preparation for the Presidency. Indeed, a number of member states have expressed their amazement at the amount of pre-planning work, which the Irish have already put in to the 2004 Presidency. I am very proud of the Irish team in this Presidency. I have no doubt that the team will do us proud and will do Europe proud.”