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 Header Item Joint Sitting of the Houses of the Oireachtas
 Header Item Address by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 970 No. 6

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Joint Sitting of the Houses of the Oireachtas

  Pursuant to Resolutions passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann both Houses met in the Dáil Chamber at 11.45 a.m., the Ceann Comhairle presiding.

Address by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl A Uachtaráin Juncker, mir wenschen Iech haerzlech wilkomen zu Dublin. Is mór an pléisiúr dom fáilte a chur romhat anseo inniu, thar ceann an Chathaoirligh agus thar mo cheann féin, agus thar ceann Chomhaltaí uile Dháil Éireann agus Sheanad Éireann. Tá áthas orainn gur ghlac tú lenár gcuireadh páirt a ghlacadh sa mhalartú tuairimí seo, an tráth dúshlánach seo i saol an Aontais Eorpaigh. Ba mhaith liom freisin fáilte chroíúil a chur roimh Coimisinéir Phil Ó hÓgáin, an Uasal Michel Barnier, príomh-chaibidleoir an Choimisiúin maidir le Brexit, agus roimh chomhaltaí eile do thoscaireachta, in Áiléar na gCuairteoirí Oirirce.

Monsieur le Président Juncker, je suis très heureux de vous accueillir aujourd'hui au nom du Cathaoirleach et de moi-même, ainsi qu'au nom de tous les Membres de Dáil Éireann et de Seanad Éireann. Nous sommes ravis que vous ayez accepté notre invitation à participer à cet échange de vues, en cette période difficile que vit l'Union Européenne. I extend also a warm welcome to Commissioner Phil Hogan, Mr. Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator for Brexit, and, indeed, the other members of your delegation in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery.

President Juncker, you have a shown a keen interest in Ireland's role and future in Europe. As I welcome you to our Parliament, I am conscious that you are no stranger to our country or to this fair city. If I am not mistaken, it was here in Dublin at the European People's Party congress in 2014 that you were chosen as the candidate of that party for the Presidency of the European Commission, the role you now hold. As such, I am sure you have fond memories of your time here. As you said in your most recent State of the Union address, "Now is the time to build a more united, a stronger, a more democratic Europe for 2025." Today, as our Parliament contributes to the debate on matters of concern to the European Union, we fulfil one of the principal objectives of Article 12 of the treaty and contribute to a more democratic Europe.

There are many critical issues facing the Union today, including the need to maintain competitiveness and economic growth and the need to address the challenges of unemployment, migration and climate and technological change. We are also seeing increased geopolitical instability and threats to security from terrorist attacks. There is also, of course, the ever present challenge of keeping the Union close to its people. The democratic principles which informed the creation of the EU will be key to addressing these issues, as will solidarity among member states. As we chart a direction for the future as a Union of 27, we should have regard to those democratic principles wherever possible. In this context, we are mindful of the fact that, in less than one year's time, Europe's voters will exercise their mandate in elections to the European Parliament.

From an Irish point of view, the decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union has profound implications given its impact on Northern Ireland and the peace process, as well as on trade and the common travel area between our two islands. I know, President Juncker, that you share these concerns and have expressed a desire that the Good Friday Agreement be preserved in all its dimensions and that life for citizens on both sides of the Border should continue as it is today. We welcome these sentiments. As we enter the decisive stage of the Brexit negotiations, I am reminded of the fact that, as Prime Minister of Luxembourg, you visited Dublin in 1996 and mediated successfully a dispute over your own EU economic and monetary union policy between French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

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