Ireland must roll out a new strategy to increase the presence of Irish officials in the EU institutions, according to Fine Gael Dublin Rathdown TD, Neale Richmond.
Deputy Richmond said: “Ireland holds a great deal of influence around the world, especially in the European Union. This has seen us through boom, bust and Brexit. However, officials expect that over the coming years there will be a significant reduction in Irish officials working in the EU institutions as many high-ranking officials are nearing retirement.
“Quite simply, we do not have enough Irish staff rising through the ranks of the EU institutions to replace those who are nearing the end of their careers. We are well below the replacement level and this will reduce Ireland’s influence. Ireland’s diplomatic presence around the world is incredibly strong and we must not allow this to fall by the wayside so close to home within the EU.
“The Programme for Government commits to developing a strategy to increase Ireland’s presence in the senior ranks of the EU institutions, and the best way to do this is to encourage and facilitate young people who are applying for internships or entry-level positions.
“It is vital that a plan is published to support and promote this strategy as soon as possible.
“Ireland has one of the most educated workforces in the world and our young people have the skills necessary to excel in these environments. We must capitalise on this talent and ensure that those interested in working in the EU have all the information and support that they require.
“Since 2015 only five Irish citizens have entered the EU concours programme and 150 have completed a Blue Book Traineeship. We must provide support and training for these applicants to ensure we are maximising our potential in this regard.
“Another way of maintaining our influence is to second our civil servants to EU institutions where needed and appropriate. On average, 24 secondments take place annually to the EU. This scheme is vital in building up expertise in our civil service. As we move forward as the only English-speaking member of the EU post-Brexit, this scheme should also be expanded.
“With a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Minister Paschal Donohoe elected as President of the Eurogroup and Phil Hogan holding the position of Trade Commissioner, Ireland has a huge influence around the world. This position must not be taken for granted and steps must be taken to maintain and expand this influence. A new EU jobs strategy would be an effective way to do so.”