Dáil Éireann - Volume 460 - 31 January, 1996

Written Answers - EU Presidency.

12. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach the meetings, if any, he has had at head of Government level in preparation for Ireland's EU Presidency. [1830/96]

The Taoiseach: Since assuming office I have had substantial bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Gonzalez of Spain, Prime Minister Dini of Italy, Prime Minister Major of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Dehaene of Belgium, Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark, President Ahtissari of Finland, Prime Minister Juncker of Luxembourg and Prime Minister Kok of the Netherlands. I also had a short bilateral meeting with President Chirac of France.

In addition I have attended meetings of the European Council in Cannes and Madrid, the informal meeting in Majorca and the pre European Council Dinner in Paris hosted by President Chirac.

These meetings have been concerned to a greater or lesser degree with the ongoing agenda of the European Union. As a primary responsibility of the Irish Presidency will be to administer this ongoing agenda the meetings have helped to contribute to preparations for our Presidency.

As the Deputy is aware, I have reported to the House on most of these meetings. In particular I reported last week to the House on my meeting with Prime Minister Dini of Italy on 17 January last. Since Italy currently holds the Presidency of the European Union this was an exceptionally important and useful meeting in the context of preparations for the Irish Presidency.