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Address by H.E. Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament (Continued)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 777 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton] I consider that really fruitful and instructive and hope the members do also. My Government colleagues consider it very useful to appear before committees in advance of their attending European Council meetings.

  The Taoiseach briefs the Dáil on the agenda and outcome of European Council meetings. That was not the procedure heretofore. The Houses are preparing their own substantial programme of interparliamentary meetings for Ireland's Presidency. These are all welcome developments but, of course, we need to do more. We must constantly increase our efforts to deepen Oireachtas engagement. The Government is really committed to working effectively with the Houses of the Oireachtas, as stated by the Ceann Comhairle in his opening remarks. There are discussions under way on a memorandum of understanding between the Government and the Houses on EU affairs in order to provide greater structure and clarity in regard to our respective commitments. I proposed this in this Chamber some months ago. Such memoranda of understanding exist in other Parliaments and having one would very much enhance our procedures for doing business.

  Let me borrow from President Schulz's inaugural address to the European Parliament in January 2012. He stated:

[T]he EU is not a zero-sum game [...]. It means resolving disputes by means of dialogue and consensus; basing decisions on the principles of solidarity and democracy, and not simply deferring to the more powerful; [...] and placing the common good above individual interests.

These are universal principles to which we can all subscribe. They hold particular resonance for us as a small EU member state preparing for our Presidency next year.

  We will aim to resolve constructively the disputes that inevitably arise during the detailed negotiations which are part and parcel of the co-decision process. We will work with the European Parliament in a spirit of mutual respect and trust, and with due regard for our respective roles and mandates. We look forward to working successfully with the European Parliament during this time in the interest of all EU citizens.

  We warmly appreciate the visit of President Schulz to Ireland. In his visit, he has made a point of engaging with the public, including, as stated by Deputy Martin, through public debate at University College Dublin, where I believe he had a decisive victory. He made a valuable point when he went to see at first hand a programme through which young people can re-skill to re-enter the jobs market. President Schulz's choice of programme augurs well for our co-operation as we move into the Presidency.

  I look forward to attending more plenary sessions of the European Parliament from now right through our Presidency as we intensify our engagement. I was at the Parliament yesterday meeting the co-ordinators of the ALDE group. That work continues. We look forward very much to President Schulz's return at the end of next month, during which visit he will be accompanied by the political leaders from the European Parliament. This visit will build on the work done yesterday and today and further prepare both sides for successful collaboration over the course of the next nine months and beyond.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That concludes the various statements. It was a great pleasure and honour to have President Martin Schulz among us this morning. We enjoyed his contribution very much and wish him every success in the remainder of his period in office as President of the European Parliament. I look forward to having much contact with him.

  Sitting suspended at 12.25 p.m. and resumed at 12.55 p.m.

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