Ireland’s strength in the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU is seen to stem in large part from a long and constructive history in the role. As it comes to the end of its seventh Presidency on 30 June 2013, Tony Brown looks back to the first time the Irish Government held the position in 1975.
In this series of articles, Mr. Brown examines the preparations for the first Presidency, from Ireland’s accession to the European Communities in 1973 to its assumption of the Presidency responsibilities on 1 January 1975; reflects on the first meeting of the European Council, which was held in Dublin on 10-11 March 1975; and considers some of the main issues on the agenda and events which took place during the six-month term.
Throughout the papers, the extent of the transformation which the Union has undergone in the intervening years becomes clear: the number of Member States has grown from nine to twenty-seven, the scope of Community competences has extended exponentially and many of the practices and fora which were emerging in the 1970s have been formalised. However, an overwhelming sense of continuity is also evident, in particular in the Irish conduct of the Presidency and the Irish Government’s approach to many of the controversial topics which arose during the six months. Indeed, it could be said that the character of Ireland’s 2013 Presidency was shaped by the preparations for and experience of the 1975 Presidency.