By H.E Oliver GROGAN, Ambassador of Ireland in Bucharest
“Saint Patrick’s Day is when Ireland greets its vast diaspora and its many friends in the world. The event has moved from its origins in Ireland and North America to become a genuinely global celebration. It has steadily been growing in strength in Bucharest and this year is seeing the greatest ever, including a festival of Irish music and dance in the Historic Centre on 17 March. The news from Ireland is encouraging. We expect to see our third straight year of modest but steady GDP growth in 2013. We are poised to return to the bond markets on a sustainable basis. We are steadily reducing our public deficit, and are on course to meet our target deficit (of less than 3 percent) by 2015. We have recapitalised our banks on time and below the expected cost. This progress is being recognised by the international finance markets. Last year we issued almost EUR 7 billion of treasury bills and bonds and long-term Government bond yields are now at less than 4 per cent, down from a peak of more than 14 per cent. We are not complacent about the pace of recovery and growth. We have a concrete plan of action to spur job creation, with measurable targets and timeframes. This progress is the result of collective national determination and sacrifice. Hard challenges remain, above all in bringing down the numbers of unemployed and in spurring stronger growth. But we are on the right track.In its 40th year as a member state, Ireland is now close to half-way through its seventh Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The Presidency, which is part of a renewed and re-energised engagement with the EU by Ireland, has as its priorities the promotion of stability, jobs and growth. We are helping to lead the drive for competitiveness and job creation across Europe as well as in Ireland.Europe’s leaders have demonstrated a united determination to act, and Ireland as Presidency has already secured some key EU legislative decisions aimed at financial and economic stability: establishing the European Stability Mechanism, the actions taken by the European Central Bank and most recently – and crucially – in advancing a Banking Union. More will follow in our remaining time in office. We are emphasising measures that support employment, particularly for the young people of Ireland and Europe. These include measures which focus on the digital sector and on Europe’s innovative SMEs. Following the visit to Ireland of Foreign Minister Corlatean to Dublin on 22 February, It is a good moment to record our excellent relationships with Romania, an economic partner of growing importance, with bilateral trade exceeding EUR 400 million. We are delighted to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with our Romanian friends, including the significant Romanian community in Ireland”.