Cowen: European Union Must Address the Concerns of Citizens
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., has reassured the countries of central and eastern Europe that “despite difficulties with the ratification of the Treaty of Nice, Ireland will not cause any delay in their accession to the European Union.”
Speaking in Prague at a debate on the future of Europe, the Minister said that “without the European Union, Ireland could not have moved in a relatively short period from being a poor member State to being one of the richer ones. The candidate states have as much right to the benefits of EU membership as Ireland had a generation ago”.
The Minister told the audience of academics, public servants and journalists that a debate on the future of the European Union is overdue. “As Europe develops,” he said, “both in terms of enlargement and integration, it is crucial that the gap or sense of distance that is perceived to exist between the institutions and its citizens is minimised. The Union and its institutions must act in a transparent, efficient and open manner if they are to maintain the support and respect of the citizens.”
He emphasised the need to ensure that the people can have a better understanding of what is happening in Europe and a strong sense of control and influence over it. It is highly important, he said, that the people of Europe are involved in the debate over what is better decided at a local, national or European level.
Earlier the Minister had meetings with the Prime Minister, Miloš Zeman, the Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, and other representives of the Czech Government and Parliament.Top