First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA will hold talks with President Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday regarding the future of the European Commission Special Taskforce.
Speaking ahead of their trip to Brussels which begins tomorrow, the Ministers said that they would be using their visit to brief EU President Jose Manuel Barroso on the taskforce’s progress to date and to jointly renew their commitment to the taskforce. They will also reflect on the current financial crisis and the possible wider implications.
Mr Robinson said: "Northern Ireland has come a long way in the years since the special taskforce was set up, but there is still considerable work to be done. It is now time to renew our commitment to the taskforce and to re-focus on the work ahead.
"Over the course of the next couple of days we will be holding meetings with some of Europe’s most senior officials in order to outline just how successful the taskforce has been and to map a way forward that will enable us to build on that considerable success.”
Mr McGuinness said: “The European Union have shown a remarkable commitment to developing a shared and prosperous future here and it is clear that in taking time out of his schedule, during a particularly busy period, that President Barroso’s commitment also remains as strong as ever. It is vital that we continue to take full advantage of every opportunity that is available to us through the European Union.
"We have already made considerable progress towards our goal of a peaceful, prosperous and shared future and during the course of this trip, by renewing our relationship with Europe we will continue to build on that success.”
During the course of their visit the Ministers will take the opportunity to officially open the Executive’s new offices in Brussels.
Mr Robinson said: "It is vital for our future development that the Executive maintains a presence at the heart of Europe in Brussels. It is essential that we take full advantage of every opportunity that membership of the European Union presents."
Mr McGuinness said: "These new offices will ensure that we continue to develop and raise our profile across Europe supporting the Executive’s engagement with European institutions. They will also enable us, through our own experiences, to help other developing nations who are emerging from similar periods of conflict."
Notes to editors:
- The EU Commission's Northern Ireland taskforce was established following Commission President José Manuel Barroso's visit to Belfast on 1 May 2007. The taskforce was mandated to look at how to improve Northern Ireland's access to, and participation in, Community policies and programmes.
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