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Minister for European Affairs calls for greater democratic accountability in the European Union

Minister Creighton calls for rededication of Europe to its citizens, given that only 33% feel their voice counts in the EU . Dublin meeting to also discuss EU enlargement.

The Irish Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD, will host a meeting of the 27 Ministers for European Affairs, plus Croatia (which is due to join on 1st July), in Dublin on 20-21 January.

With a special Eurobarometer survey published last year (Eurobarometer 379 on the Future of Europe) recording that just 33% of Europeans agree that their voice is heard in the EU, a particular focus of the meeting will be democratic legitimacy and accountability. This issue is a core element of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy’s work on Economic and Monetary Union.

As a basis for this discussion, Minister Creighton has commissioned a paper by Brigid Laffan, Professor of European Politics at University College Dublin,

The Fourth Pillar of a Genuine EMU – Democratic Legitimacy and Accountability

. The paper poses specific questions to guide the ministerial debate. The Minister has also invited representatives of the European Parliament, the Oireachtas (the Irish national parliament) and the Northern Ireland Executive to join the meeting.

Commenting in advance of this discussion, Minister Creighton said, “the recent crisis has shown that the people of Europe first saw the Union as part of the problem, but now they want to see it more as part of the solution. The Irish Presidency’s focus is on solutions for growth and jobs, but people also need to feel more connected, involved, engaged, informed and listened to. As we take the next steps down the road of closer financial and economic integration, we need a serious debate about how to ensure their voices are truly heard.”

Ministers will also take the opportunity to consider prospects for the further enlargement of the European Union. Representatives of the five current candidate countries (Iceland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) have also been invited and on Monday 21st January Minister Creighton will host a working lunch to allow for an exchange of views on current enlargement issues.

“I strongly believe that we need to maintain and reinforce the European perspective of the candidate countries. This is a matter of peace and security in Europe and affects us all. From our own direct experience over the past forty years, Ireland knows well the extent to which the European Union can support the reform and development process,” the Minister said.

The previous day, the Minister will have a separate meeting with representatives of the three potential Western Balkan candidates (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo) to discuss the progress they are making in the Accession process and to consider the broader issue of democratic legitimacy and accountability.