Irish EU presidency to focus on youth jobs

Ireland will use its presid-ency of the EU to fight the scourge of youth unemployment as it seeks to exit the bailout programme, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore pledged.

The Labour leader said the Irish presidency would do everything in its power to help young people who are out of work, including agreeing a package of measures with other EU members for those under 25.

Under the proposed agreement, young adults will be “guaranteed” a job offer, continued education or work experience within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

His comments came as the Government launched Ireland’s six-month term as presidency hosts yesterday at Dublin Castle. Members of the Cabinet, ambassadors, the Defence Forces, and TDs attended the low-key flag-raising ceremony.

Mr Gilmore promised the Government would work hard to restore financial stability across Europe so as to create jobs. Agreement on a banking union, a focus on trade as well as the digital sector would also form key parts of Ireland’s presidency, he said, adding: “All of these measures will play their part in tackling the most pressing problem facing all member states at this time — the scourge of youth unemployment.” It was hoped a youth unemployment package for EU states could be agreed, he said.

“As we become the first country in the eurozone to exit an EU/IMF programme, Ireland can — and will — be a success story for Europe again.”

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton said the presidency would also address the rights Irish people have as EU citizens: “This year I would like to encourage a discussion about these rights and what they mean for Ireland, and, not least, about what the European Union means to us.”

A series of nationwide meetings in the coming months would allow Irish citizens express their opinions about the EU and what they wanted for the future of the union, she said.

She said costs for the presidency — expected to cost Ireland €60m — had been reduced since Ireland last hosted it. It would be a “no-nonsense, no-frills presidency”, she said, adding: “Everything will take place in state-owned venues, mostly in Dublin, so it will be a very cost-effective presidency where we will be spending the minimum.”

The ceremony also saw children releasing 40 balloons, in celebration of Ireland’s 40 years of EU membership this year.

More than 15,000 EU officials are expected to visit over the six-month term.

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