Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs
Presidency of the Council of the European Union: Discussion with Minister of State
I thank the Minister of State for her remarks. She summarised the priorities extremely well. I will focus on one area - the need to restore stability. This relates to two areas, in particular, banking union and the European semester. On banking union and the make-up of the supervisory board, we would like each country to have the same voice. The proposal by some countries that membership of the board be based on population flies in the face of the concept of European solidarity and is something that would concern many of us.
With regard to the European semester, the Minister of State mentioned that she envisaged a role for national parliaments and the European Parliament. We had a meeting earlier today with members of the Party of European Socialists, PES, group in the European Parliament and we spoke about this issue and the need to have an input from both national parliaments and the European Parliament, particularly at three stages in the European semester and beyond - the annual growth survey, the formulation of country specific recommendations and the preparation of and debate on draft national budgets. National parliaments require a role in all of these, as does the European Parliament. It is not good enough to just leave it to the Commission and the Council. Will the Minister of State tell us what the Irish Presidency intends to do to ensure national parliaments and the European Parliament have a real input which will not just be noted but also taken on board, as part of the European semester? The Cypriots have prepared a paper on how we can improve the European semester process. That is something on which we must work as part of our Presidency, but perhaps the Minister of State might elaborate a little on how she envisages the role and involvement of national parliaments and the European Parliament in the European semester.
I wish to raise a small point to which the Minister of State might not be able to respond today. It is a proposal that is being considered in Europe for a tobacco products directive. It would impose mandatory plain packaging for every packet of cigarettes, as happens in Australia. Will that directive be part of the Presidency agenda and does the Irish Presidency have views on it?