FINE Gael senator and member of the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee, Fidelma Healy Eames, has urged people to get involved in a national debate on Ireland and the future of the European Union.
The Oireachtas European Affairs Committee is inviting submissions from organisations and individual members of the public on the subject of the European Union and Ireland’s role in it.
“As a member of the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee, I have learned a lot about how the EU institutions work. Irish people work in these institutions, they make a big contribution to them and are held in very high regard. The purpose of these institutions is to serve the 500 million citizens of the EU, including Ireland. In addition to well-known institutions like the European Commission, bodies such as the European Investment Bank lend money to Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in Ireland for schools, major roads and other long term projects of high social value.
“The ESM (European Stability Mechanism) is the new bank set up to help programme countries like Ireland, a direct result of the Referendum which passes the Fiscal Compact Treaty (2012). The Court of Auditors is where EU budgets are audited and, for example, payments to Irish farmers are checked for truth and accuracy. Meeting with people who work in these institutions and seeing their regard for Ireland has given me confidence in the EU. Notwithstanding this, the unprecedented economic and financial crisis of recent years has shaken the European Union to its core. As the instability in the EU has begun to recede, the last number of months has seen the emergence of an important debate at European level and in the Member States regarding the future shape the European Union should take.
“With the EU evolving, it is timely for our committee to open a national debate on Ireland’s place in the EU. Questions abound about how far further European integration should go. What is the best means of bolstering democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU? In addition, the United Kingdom, a key-trading partner for Ireland, is now considering its future relationship with the European Union. What are the implications for Ireland from these developments? What are your views on these issues and others? By leading this national debate, our committee will advance the discussions on the future of Europe by directly engaging with the citizens we serve. Through our engagement as politicians we have an opportunity to influence the future direction Europe will take. Your feedback can influence this debate.”
The closing date for receipt of submissions is March 29. See www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/oireachtasbusiness/committees_list/eu-affairs/submissions/ for more details on how to make a submission.