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Northern Ireland: European Strategy

Volume 685: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Maria Eagle) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Today the Government launch Northern Ireland's first European strategy, Taking Our Place in Europe. The strategy maps out a framework for Northern Ireland's engagement with Europe. Its challenge is to benefit fully from the European Union by participating proactively and confidently.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the signing of Europe's founding Treaty of Rome, it is timely that Northern Ireland uses the “period of reflection” to consider its role in the future of Europe. This strategy promotes a vision of a positive future for Northern Ireland as the preferred European region of choice in which to live, work, study and invest.

The strategy, Taking Our Place in Europe, sets out what needs to be done to engage with Europe, guiding the work of regional and local government in partnership with civil society. The Government wish Northern Ireland to speak with one voice, engaging with Europe on as many levels and as consistently as possible.

Northern Ireland must participate proactively in an outward and forward-looking manner to:

promote its interests within the European Union;

raise its positive profile throughout Europe; and

encourage participation in European matters throughout the region.

The strategy will be taken forward through a detailed action plan, derived from departmental documents. This action plan will include much of the detail of implementation and evaluation.

Copies of Northern Ireland's European strategy have been placed in the Libraries of the House and may also be downloaded from the website at