Priorities of the Irish EU Presidency 

On 1st January Ireland took over the EU Presidency promising a “people-centred recovery designed to last”, with youth unemployment and the Social Investment Package most likely to be in the spotlight of its social priorities.

Tackling youth unemployment in Europe is likely to be at the centre of the Presidency’s attention. In November 2012 youth unemployment averaged 23.7%, with figures in Ireland trailing above average at 29.7% and above 50% in both Greece and Spain.

The Presidency has expressed its commitment to ensure Member States reach an agreement on the Youth Guarantee Scheme as part of the EU’s proposed Youth Employment Package, when EU employment ministers meet in February. The Scheme, funded by the European Social Fund, will aim to provide further education, training and apprenticeships and jobs for young people.

During the time of the Presidency, European Commission will also be presenting its Social Investment Package, currently expected in February, which will deal with the social impact of the economic crisis on citizens as well as other issues including child well-being, social inclusion and social protection. The Presidency together with the Commission has planned to hold a high-level conference in Brussels exploring the key priorities of the Package.

The Presidency will also aim to adopt the Programme for Social Change and Innovation Regulation, which is set to provide financial support for the EU’s objectives linked to the Europe 2020 targets, including:

  • Promoting a high level of employment;
  • Guaranteeing adequate social protection;
  • Combating social exclusion and poverty

There are also a number of events during the Presidency which will deal with some of the key social issues:

  1. EU Youth Conference, 11-13 March, Dublin
  2. High Level e-Health Conference, 13-15 May, Dublin
  3. OECD Economic & Employment Development Forum on Partnerships & Local Governance, 26-27 March, Dublin
  4. Roundtable of Ministers for housing and homelessness, March, precise date & location TBC
  5. European Social Fund Conference, 22-23 May, location TBC

The Irish Presidency comes at the 40th anniversary of Ireland's accession to the EU. Lithuania will be next Member State to take over the EU presidency from 1st July.