Ireland will be closely watched by its European counterparts for signs that its close relationship with the US will lead to a “Google presidency” of the EU.
It is expected that negotiations on the long-awaited EU-US free trade agreement will begin during the six-month Irish presidency, which begins next week.
Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly issued a statement yesterday urging the EU to “press ahead with plans to deepen trade” and said: “Ireland would greatly benefit from improved trade links with the US given our historic, solid relationship.”
However, sources close to French President François Hollande said Ireland must use its “very close and significant relationship with the Americans” to act in the interests of all of Europe.
A senior official in the Hollande government told the Irish Examiner the administration expects that opening up these talks would be “a priority of the Irish presidency”.
He added that it “may be” in the interests of the US to start these talks while Ireland is at the helm.
“The presidency has to be impartial, so not biased in any way,” said the official.
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