Published: Thu, 16 May 2013
Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South, Sean Kelly, has today spoken about the importance of Ireland’s relationship with the EU and the future potential of its membership. Deputy Kelly was speaking following his address to Seanad Éireann.
“Ireland’s membership of the EU has empowered and enriched us. When we joined in 1973 our GDP per capita was 64.2% of the then European average. Today, despite recent economic turmoil, we continue boast one of the highest GDP per capita rates in the Union. Living standards have risen to such an extent that modern Ireland looks and feels like a different country to the Ireland of 40 years ago such are the improvements and the developments our participation in Europe has gained for us.
“The EU has experienced many difficult phases since its foundation and I don’t think anyone here would deny that the current difficulty facing Europe, whilst not an existential crisis, is its most challenging to date. However, I will say that the situation on the European level is unrecognisable from only a year ago. Europe has managed to pull itself back from the brink.
“While we are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis in living memory, I believe that unemployment can only be fundamentally solved through a return to economic growth. Growth and job creation go hand in hand, albeit with a lag between the return to sustainable growth and significant job creation. This is an issue which this House has focussed on relentlessly and I hope that the Senators will continue to do so.
“This is a critical time for Ireland and Europe, and it is imperative that charting the way forward and building a shared vision for the future of Europe is a bottom-up process.”