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Minister Dara Murphy calls on Europe to ensure strong focus on competitiveness

Minister Dara Murphy attended the Informal meeting of Ministers for European Affairs yesterday and today (Thursday and Friday 28/29 August) in Milan. Hosted by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Ministers focussed on the EU's efforts to create jobs and growth, in particular through the full implementation of the Strategic Agenda for the Union in Times of Change, which was adopted by the European Council in June this year. This Agenda sets out five overarching priorities (jobs, growth and competitiveness; empowering and protecting citizens; energy and climate policy; freedom, security and justice; external policy) which will guide the EU's actions over the next five years.

Speaking at the meeting, Minister Murphy said, "enhancing the competitiveness of Europe through the activation of the Strategic Agenda is key to delivering sustainable jobs and growth across the Union. We need to focus our efforts on fostering and supporting a European enterprise culture in which small businesses and entrepreneurs are nurtured. We also need to work on delivering a European environment in which labour mobility is viewed as an asset and an important enabler of competitiveness."

"As we are starting to see, and feel, real signs of recovery in Ireland - in particular as our unemployment figures are steadily decreasing and growth forecasts are positive - we need to strengthen our focus on maintaining competitiveness across the European Union as a whole. The Strategic Agenda encompasses concrete priorities and firm commitments in this regard, including ensuring affordable energy, wage competitiveness and stability."

Ministers also discussed preparations for the Special European Council which will take place in Brussels on Saturday (30th August) and which will focus on nominations to the European Commission, as well developments in Ukraine, Syria, Gaza and the Ebola crisis. Minister Murphy will accompany the Taoiseach to the Council.