Ireland and Europe: Continuity and change. The 2004 Presidency

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Series Details No.30, December 2003
Publication Date December 2003
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On 1st January 2004, Ireland will assume the position of European Council chair for the sixth time. Brigid Laffan, research director at the European Institute in Dublin recounts the history of Irish integration ever since this small (by Community standards) country joined, back in 1973. There is the success story, the story of the economic take-off which enabled this country, a European outsider up to 1987, to catch up with the rest in just a few years' time. But there is also the story of only moderate enthusiasm for European integration, an attitude which led to a "no" vote at the referendum on the Nice Treaty in June 2001.
And so it is, at a time when the European Union is split on the issue of what its future prospects should be, that Ireland can be hesitant as to whether it should embrace its tradition as a structural fund role model or whether it should opt for its more recent stance as a proponent of putting one's own interests first. In the foreword, Jacques Delors reverts to Irish tradition and that leads him to the conviction that hope is to be found under the present uncertainly.

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