Ireland takes over the EU presidency for six months on January 1st.
Dublin says its main priority is “getting the European economy back on track” with boosting jobs and growth at the top of its agenda.
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore told euronews why opening talks on an EU-US free trade deal to eliminate tariffs and other barriers is so important in acheiving that goal.
“Clearly if one can get the potential of the two economies across the Atlantic, a massive European economy 500 million people and the huge United State economy, a free trade agreement has enormous potential to grow both economies, create jobs and to bring greater prosperity to both the United States and to Europe,” he said.
Agreeing a deal would come at an opportune moment for both Europe and the United States: the eurozone remains mired in crisis and US politicians are bicker over how to solve their country’s huge debt pile.
A free trade deal would boost exports on both sides of the Atlantic. The US Chamber of Commerce estimates that it will add more than 130 billion euros to both economies inside five years.
The Irish government’s in-tray is piled high with other important issues. It wants to make further progress made a eurozone banking union, including a deal on legacy bank debt amid stiff opposition from Berlin.
If EU leaders can agree early next year on the 27-member bloc’s budget, Ireland will also be charged with steering it through the European Parliament.