‘From fire-fighting to stabilisation, from recovery to structural reform…..’
Brussels, 12 June 2014: Speaking at a breakfast briefing organised this morning by the Brussels Branch of independent, not-for-profit organisation, European Movement Ireland, and in association with global accountancy network BDO, European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn has urged the EU to ‘continue with the wave of reforms underway to remove long-standing obstacles to growth and employment.’
At the second in a series of major EU policy breakfast briefings organised by European Movement Ireland’s Brussels Branch to mark the 60th anniversary of the organisation’s founding in 1954, Commissioner Rehn delivered a wide-ranging speech and also responded to questions from the large audience in attendance. At the first of these breakfast events held in February, Catherine Day, the European Commission’s Secretary-General, had spoken of the major challenges facing Europe with a particular focus on the economy, employment, the promised UK referendum on its EU membership and migration.
This morning, Commissioner Rehn outlined key issues, including those highlighted at the previous event, as well as fiscal consolidation, reform, tax fraud, the digital era and Ukraine. The Commissioner underlined the high level of unemployment in Europe, which he said was ‘very worrying for social cohesion, especially for the younger generation who were worst hit. We need sustained and concrete efforts in Member States to open up opportunities for job creation and growth.’ The Commissioner also called for ‘a Europe that combines entrepreneurial drive and growth; a Europe that guarantees civil rights in the digital age.’
Chairman of EM Ireland Brussels branch, Mr Noel Clehane from sponsors, BDO, commented, ‘There is a continuing need to restore confidence in the European banking system and to deal with the very real access to finance problems faced by SMEs all over Europe, something that our firms see daily across the union.’
In response to a question from the floor, on the potential for a lack of momentum behind the reform agenda in light of the recent European Parliament election results, Commissioner Rehn answered ‘The focus should be on increasing economic reforms, not only on fiscal consolidation’. Outlining the journey to date, Commissioner Rehn stated ‘the sustained progress of economic reforms needs the support of Europe’s citizens. It cannot be simply dictated from Brussels, but must be based on partnership.’
Concluding the event, Ms Noelle O Connell, European Movement Ireland Executive Director, thanked Commissioner Rehn for his contributions. ‘We in European Movement Ireland particularly welcome the recognition of the importance of civic engagement in promoting accountability, transparency and democratic dialogue between the EU and its citizens. For sixty years and counting, EM Ireland has continued to play this constructive role in trying to enhance democratic legitimacy for Europe’s citizens and we thank Commissioner Rehn for his recognition of the importance of this work.’
Available for comment
EM Ireland’s Executive Director, Noelle O Connell, is available for interview and comment.
Contact Frances Byrne at EM Ireland on +353 1 662 5815or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About European Movement Ireland’s Brussels Branch
Established in March 2013, European Movement Ireland’s Brussels Branch, which is voluntary in nature, aims to facilitate networking and enhance collaboration opportunities between European Movement Ireland’s Brussels and Irish-based members. The Branch works to promote the organisation’s aims and priorities and seeks to become a successful and vibrant extension of European Movement Ireland based overseas. For more information, please visit our webpage on the European Movement Ireland website: www.europeanmovement.ie/brussels-branch or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EMIrelandBrussels
About European Movement Ireland
Founded in 1954 and marking its 60th anniversary this year, European Movement Ireland is an independent not-for-profit, membership organisation working to make the connection between Irish people and the European Union. Through education programmes and advocacy work, European Movement campaigns for every Irish person to get involved with the European Union and, by doing so, help shape it through reasoned, robust and informed debate. For more information, visit www.europeanmovement.ie.
 BDO is one of the largest global accounting and professional services networks with member firms in over 140 countries including all 28 EU Member States. It employs almost 60,000 partners and staff worldwide and had a global aggregate turnover in 2013 in excess of US$6.45 bn. Its International Executive Office has long been situated in Brussels, Belgium.