UU economist elected to 'top table' at European Union
One of Northern Ireland's best known economists has been elected to a top role in the European Union.
Mike Smyth, head of the School of Economics at the University of Ulster, will become president of the Economic and Monetary Union (ECO) section of the European Economic and Social Committee - one of the most influential organisations in the EU.
"This is a seat at the top table," said Mr Smyth.
"As President of ECO, I will have access to all the key decision-makers in the European Commission and Parliament."
The committee is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe's interest groups a platform to express their opinions on EU issues, with their views and observations forwarded to the European Commission and European Parliament.
Mr Smyth said the committee had a key role to play in the EU decision making process and that an early priority in his two-and-a-half year tenure would be to establish strong links with leading think tanks and policy institutes throughout Europe.
The economist said he wants to ensure ECO is at the forefront of thought and action in the fields of economic and social policy, rather than - as in the past - reacting to events. He takes up the post on October 1.