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European Union Stability

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Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore)

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Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore)

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Snippet Contents:

Over the past six decades, the European Union has contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. It has transformed a continent that for so long was torn apart by war and division, shattering the lives of millions. This has been achieved through an unprecedented process of political, economic and social cooperation among the countries of Europe over those decades. The history of the European Union is one of evolution and transformation as it has grown and deepened to meet the challenges of each era.
The unprecedented economic crisis that has faced the Union and, more especially, the euro zone over recent years is the challenge for our generation. With 26 million unemployed across the European Union, the crisis has undoubtedly placed many of our citizens under great pressure. As the European Union continues to respond, it is imperative that we ensure that our citizens do not become alienated or isolated from the European project, and that its core values prevail.
The need for popular understanding of and support for the European Union, is now more crucial than ever. While it is a challenge for us all, this is a particular responsibility for elected representatives at national and European level.
The European Union, in advancing plans for a strengthened Economic and Monetary Union, has acknowledged the need for a social dimension and for enhanced democratic accountability and legitimacy. As we take further steps to respond to the economic crisis, it is vital that social aspects, and democratic accountability and legitimacy are central to our efforts. They cannot be treated as an afterthought. Governments, national parliaments and the European Parliament have a key role to play in this regard. It will be important to get the balance right between the appropriate roles at national and European level.
We are also exploring the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union ahead of a report from President Van Rompuy in June. And Ireland is actively contributing to that important debate.
Democratic accountability and legitimacy are also key priorities for the Irish Presidency. These issues have been the focus of comprehensive and constructive discussions at high-level events hosted by the Presidency in Dublin recently, including the Informal Meeting of Ministers and State Secretaries for EU Affairs, as well as the COSAC Chairpersons Conference.
This year is also European Year of Citizens. Following its launch in Dublin last January, Citizen’s dialogues have been organised across Ireland and throughout the wider Union. This is an ideal opportunity to celebrate the rights and benefits we enjoy, as citizens of the European Union, and to engage in a broader debate on the future direction of our Union. Whatever course that takes, it must maintain at its heart the interest of the citizens of Europe.