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Irish People in the EU

There are Irish people working throughout every level of the European Union, in addition to those working in the Irish Representations of the Commission and the Parliament.

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David O'Sullivan
Chief Operating Officer, European External Action Service

Originally from Dublin.

About your job: David O'Sullivan is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service. The EEAS supports the High Representative/Vice President of the Commission, Cathy Ashton in fulfilling her mandate to ensure the consistency of the Unionís external action. The EEAS also assists the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission in the area of external relations.

David was Director General for Trade from 2005 to 2010. Previously he was Secretary General of the European Commission from June 2000 to November 2005, Head of Cabinet of Commission President Romano Prodi and Director General for Education and Training. He also has extensive experience in EU social and employment policy. In 1989, he was the Head of Unit responsible for the conception and setting up of the Tempus programme.

Why the EU? I was trained to be an international civil servant so I naturally joined the European Commission. Working in International Trade makes use of all the diplomatic and negotiating skills I have accumulated over the years.

How do you think Ireland has benefited most from the EU? Membership of the EU has provided huge material benefits for Ireland. Most importantly, however, it enabled us to emerge from the shadow of our troubled relationship with the UK and find a clearer national identity through which we can have an active role in Europe and more globally. Membership has enhanced our self-esteem and diminished our national inferiority complex. We just need to keep remembering that it was EU membership that made this new-found self-confidence possible.

Based: Brussels

Languages: I speak French and Irish which I learned at school. I learned Spanish and German in evening classes and Japanese when I was posted to Tokyo.

Books/Music: My favourite book is 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand. This book has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when published in 1943. I do not necessarily share Rand's political philosophy but she is a great writer and this is a fabulous book dealing with powerful themes.
My favourite music album is 'Blue' by Joni Mitchell. This is the music of my time as a young man in the 1970s. It still manages to transport me back in time. Joni Mitchell never made a better album in my view. 'A Case of You' is a masterpiece.