Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Monday, 28 May 2012 14:28 UK

European priorities for 2012/13

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell briefed the assembly on "the executive's recent European successes", on 28 May 2012.

He explained the importance of the Barroso Task Force, established by the President of the European commission Jose Manuel Barroso, "to enhance our engagement in Europe, reinforcing our newly-established political institutions".

The minister said: "We will continue to focus on our four broad themes of competitiveness and employment, innovation and technology, climate change, and energy and social cohesion which we adopted last year."

OFMDFM committee chairman Mike Nesbitt of the UUP wanted to know when they would see the implementation plan for 2012-13, given that it was already June.

The junior minister said he could not give a specific date as his officials were still working on the plan.

Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy asked for assurances that the executive was still working towards the extension of EU peace funding.

Mr Molloy said he had recently spoken to former UUP leader Lord Trimble, who had told him he opposed a Peace IV funding programme.

Jonathan Bell said the executive was pushing hard at every opportunity and every meeting for a Peace IV programme.

The UUP's Danny Kinahan was critical of Mr Bell's speech, describing it as "waffle".

The junior minister said that when he was young he sang a hymn about "the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate".

"Until I met you, Mr Kinahan, I didn't realise that people in Northern Ireland still lived in castles," he added.

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