European Council president proclaims 'irreversibility' of euro

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European Council President Herman van Rompuy has claimed the Euro currency is now "an irreversible project".

Speaking to a joint meeting of MEPs and national MPs on 30 January 2013, he said the worst of the crisis was now over, and that the year had started on an "optimistic note".

The two-day session has been set up to scrutinise and evaluate the European Semester, the EU's scrutiny of national economies.

The cycle starts with the annual growth survey (AGS) and results in the publication of country-specific guidance to countries whose policies and budgets are out of line.

According to the most recent AGS, there are serious concerns about employment, with fears that youth unemployment has hit 50% in some countries.

Mr Van Rompuy warned that "simply waiting for the recovery is not enough", insisting that EU projects and programmes were vital to promote growth.

His calls were echoed by the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who said the EU's budget - which is currently the source of wrangling between EU governments and institutions - was "indispensable" for boosting growth.

Mr Barroso rejected criticism of the budget as simply being money paid by richer countries to benefit poorer countries.

"All countries are beneficiaries," he insisted. "It offers even the strongest member states a European dimension to their research and infrastructure that provides huge benefits."

MEPs and MPs were also addressed by Seán Barrett, the speaker of the Irish Dáil, who praised the EU for "standing by us in our hour of need".

The first day of the inter-parliamentary session can be viewed here.

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