The Republic’s EU presidency could extend north of the border under plans discussed by the North/South Ministerial Council. Its plenary meeting in June discussed the possibility of hosting events in Northern Ireland and holding regular ministerial discussions of EU matters.
Running from January to June 2013, the Irish presidency is likely to oversee important decisions on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy. Officially termed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, it involves meetings between government ministers. Heads of state and heads of government meet separately through the European Council.
Cyprus took the presidency in July and will hold it until December. Separately, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced a policy review to clarify the EU’s powers in the UK. The review will begin this autumn and conclude in 2014; the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Office will both be consulted.
Anderson calls for new Commission strategies
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for the European Commission to take on extra responsibilities. She was speaking in support of a resolution tabled by her socialist GUE/NGL group on 4 July. Anderson called for a “radically new” anti-austerity approach and also listed what she wanted to see in the Commission’s 2013 work programme.
Some of the priorities that are being called for are already under discussion at an EU level e.g. CAP reform and a Peace IV funding programme. However, others such as guaranteed jobs for young people, and strategies on gay rights and violence against women, are normally dealt with by individual countries rather than the Commission.
Anderson told agendaNi that she was making “constructive suggestions” on how the Commission should focus its resources and influence.
In the same debate, Diane Dodds opposed increases in the EU budget as national governments were exercising “economic prudence”.
Cioloş visit in autumn
European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş is likely to visit Northern Ireland early in the autumn, following a personal invitation from Jim Nicholson.
The UUP MEP is the Agriculture Spokesman for the European Conservatives and Reformists group.
“The outcome of the current reform of the CAP will shape agriculture for years to come,” Nicholson said, adding that he was appreciative of the Commissioner taking time in his schedule to visit the province.
Cioloş is a former Romanian Agriculture Minister (2007-2008) and has held office as Commissioner since February 2010.
On 1 July 2013, Croatia is due to become the EU’s 28th member state and its second member from the former Yugoslavia; Slovenia joined in 2004. With a population of 4.3 million, Croatia separated from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has embassies in both London and Dublin.