Irish PM Kenny praises EU 'family'

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The Irish Prime Minister - or Taoiseach - used a speech in the European Parliament on the priorities of the Irish presidency of the EU to praise the "European family".

"Europe remains one of the best places in the world to live, culturally, economically and socially," Enda Kenny told MEPs on 16 January 2013.

"It is a family, sometimes boisterous, but always joyful," he added.

Ireland took over the rotating six-month presidency on 1 January, taking over from Cyprus. The country will hold the presidency until the end of June, when it will be passed on to Lithuania.

Although the Lisbon Treaty created the post of permanent President of the European Council - currently held by Herman van Rompuy - there is still a six-month rotating presidency.

Meetings of the Council of Ministers, which represents EU governments, are chaired by the relevant minister from the country holding the presidency.

Mr Kenny said the presidency, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of Ireland joining the then EEC, will focus on stability and jobs, with a particular push on youth unemployment, currently at almost 25% in the EU.

He claimed that 2012 may have seen "the worst of the crisis pass," saying that the presidency would try and boost the single market through new legislation on mutual recognition of professional workers, on the rights of posted workers and portable pensions.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said that Ireland's presidency was "good for Ireland and good for Europe."

Since Ireland required an international bailout in 2010, the government has been forced to adhere to strict spending limits set by the EU and International Monetary Fund, but its economy has recovered better than other bailout countries like Greece.

We apologise due to technical reasons we are unable to bring the first three minutes of the debate.

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