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Irish Presidency of the EU Council

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“The experiences of the Irish Presidency of the EU Council in the field of external relations”


By Dr. Aaron Matta, Senior Researcher in EU Law, Academic Programme Coordinator of CLEER (Centre for the Law of EU External Relations)

On November 6
th T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the Centre for the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER) organised in cooperation with the Irish Embassy in The Hague a special lecture event devoted to the legal review of the experiences of the Irish Presidency of the EU in the field of external relations.


The lecture, chaired by Dr. Aaron Matta, Senior Researcher in EU Law and Academic Programme Coordinator of CLEER, took place in the context of the CLEER special lecture series that look at the Presidencies retrospectively focusing on the role of the incumbent presidency in coordination and leadership in regional and global issues.


Her Excellency, Mrs. H.E. Mary Whelan, Ambassador of Ireland in the Netherlands gave an insightful presentation on the major challenges and achievements in representation, negotiation and coordination at the helm of the EU Council. She explained that the EU Presidency was seen as opportunity to take measures directly linked to Stability, Jobs and Growth which was the central three-pillar theme developed by the Irish Presidency. The Ambassador referred to the main achievements internally aiming to build a stronger Europe at an economic level. With regard to the Union in a wider world, she particularly mentioned the Irish Presidency’s efforts to promote trade and its achievement to secure a mandate within Council to start official negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. She further referred to the progress made on the EU Enlargement and development cooperation which had been key parts of the Irish Presidency’s programme. Regarding the role of the Irish Embassy in projecting the priorities of the Presidency, she presented her reflections on the cooperation with international institutions based in The Hague, especially with the ICC and OPCW which acquired particular attention during the Irish Presidency.


Dr. Elaine Fahey, Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG), complemented the presentation as a discussant providing a critical analysis of the legal impact of Irish Presidency from an EU external relations point of view. She discussed the Irish Presidency’s ‘best’ achievements along with the Irish practice pre and post Lisbon, especially in the area of freedom, security and justice. She further highlighted the Irish Presidency success in concluding the historic negotiations that will allow the Union to accede to the European Convention of Human Rights. At the end of her presentation, she expressed her concerns on the Bulgaria and Romania Schengen entry delay, an issue on which more attention was expected. She further noticed that with regard to the ‘management’ of the situation of a possible UK Brixit Ireland was more vocal only after the end of the EU Presidency.


A general discussion based on the questions from the audience closed the lecture that was followed by a reception afterwards.


The lecture series, initiated in 2011, has been particularly successful in engaging the diplomatic contingent of incumbent Presidencies posted in The Hague, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences with the broad networks of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and CLEER.


For a more detailed report on the Irish Presidency lecture see

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