Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs

Task Force Report on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and Doing Less More Efficiently: Discussion

2:00 pm

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Dublin Bay North, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

That was some vision outlined by Senator Richmond. It was a very interesting and constructive contribution. I thank both witnesses for their presentations. This committee is examining the future of Europe generally. We have had various witnesses before us in recent months. I thank the witnesses for the work they have done on the task force and for their constructive criticism. As a committee we must consider the report of the task force and make our views known in due course to the Commission. It is a debate well worth having.

Dr. Schön-Quinlivan referred to populist political parties being on the rise in the European Union. She also referred to the democratic and legitimacy deficits. They are the two big issues. She hit the nail on the head in that regard and we must consider those issues.

Previous speakers, perhaps predictably given that we are in the national Parliament and we are national parliamentarians, spoke about the role of national parliaments, but I wish to extend the discussion a little. I recall that after the defeat of some of the referendums here in Ireland on the various treaties, there was a big discussion about what the national Parliament could do to bring Europe closer to the citizens. One reform was that prior to a European Council meeting the Taoiseach must come into the Dáil and outline what he intends to do at the meeting and then he must report back to the Dáil in the following week on what took place. That has been a very good initiative and there have been other initiatives in terms of scrutinising legislation. I wish to ask a broad question and the witnesses should feel free to answer honestly. How are we doing as a national Parliament in terms of scrutinising European legislation and communicating Europe to citizens? Are there one or two more things they think we as a national Parliament could be doing to improve the democratic and legitimacy deficits? Do they have any suggestions to make to us and could we be doing more?


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