Brussels – Today the Irish government laid out plans for its presidency of the Council of the European Union, which is due to begin on 1 January 2013. Statements today by Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and foreign minister Eamon Gilmore highlighted the need to focus on ‘jobs and growth’, but Greenpeace is concerned that the plans as outlined today still lack direction and fail to address the drain on the economy from expensive imports of natural resources. They also fail to recognise the opportunity for greater prosperity from the greening of the European economy across all sectors, warned Greenpeace.
The six-month presidency will allow Ireland to direct much of the policy focus of the Union for the first half of next year, within an 18-month joint 'trio' programme with the subsequent presidencies of Lithuania and Greece.
Greenpeace welcomes that the Irish presidency, as part of the trio programme, recognises that "the challenges posed by the current economic and financial situation cannot be addressed effectively in the long term without a continuing emphasis on green growth and resource efficiency" .
However, in a letter to Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny last week, Greenpeace joined nine other leading environmental NGOs in expressing concern about the lack of focus on how greening the economy can shape Europe's recovery and highlighting some of the areas where the Irish government needs to focus special attention . Europe's energy policy is central to its economic future – the EU currently spends €1 billion a day on fossil fuel imports from places like the Middle East and Russia, despite the fact that the OECD and the EU's own 2020 strategy specifically underline the need for greater energy efficiency and independence if the EU is to stabilise its economic position. The recent EU Energy Revolution report from Greenpeace highlights the potential for 1.5 million jobs in a new, modern European energy system based on renewables, energy efficiency and sustainable, independent energy .
Greenpeace adviser for the Irish presidency Dónall Geoghegan said: "What Ireland promotes as its themes and priorities for the presidency is important. There needs to be focus on a more sustainable direction for Europe's economy. We hope that as detailed plans are worked out by the Irish presidency, emphasis will go into ways to pursue lasting economic benefits and sustainable employment from clean and efficient economic systems that produce sustainable jobs. There is a risk that without such focus, EU countries would once again subsidise old polluting technologies that will do nothing to solve the underlying problems in the European economy. The Irish presidency needs to focus on things that work and benefit everyone, not just the banks: paying less for fuel, saving energy and creating jobs with better insulation, and cutting food and resource waste."
Notes to editors:
Dónall Geoghegan - Greenpeace adviser for the Irish presidency: +353 87 222 5691
Greenpeace EU pressdesk: +32 (0)2 2741911,
This press comment is also available on: www.greenpeace.eu
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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.