Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions: Engagement with Mr. Juan Menéndez-Valdés

2:00 pm

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I have a couple of questions for the director. On a humorous note, I would love to know what they are doing in Denmark that people there are so happy because it might encourage us to think about moving there. On voluntarism and the statistics provided in that regard, in my humble opinion the biggest and best voluntary organisation in Ireland is the GAA. Was this volunteering aspect taken into account in compiling the statistics? If it was, that is okay but, if not, it challenges the accuracy of the voluntarism statistic.

On the EU-wide impact, there are two or three things the EU could do which would improve everyone's lot. Mr. Menéndez-Valdés, as director, is obviously experienced in compiling statistics. What in his expert view are the two or three things the EU could do to change everybody's lives in a positive way, be that health-wise, work-wise, sports-wise and so on? Is there any one thing that he would suggest if Europe implemented tomorrow would have a positive impact on all of our lives, not only in Ireland but throughout Europe?

Following on from that, when one considers the statistics that were given that were applicable to Ireland, it looks like we are doing well but as with everything in life, competitiveness is great. I like to think that whatever a person is doing, it is not enough and I believe we are all in that category. I believe we should all push ourselves better, further and harder. It looks like we are doing okay but is there something we should do to pull ourselves up a bit and pull up our socks? When I say "we", I refer to us as politicians whether we are Senators, Deputies or Ministers in government. I am aware that Mr. Menéndez-Valdés cannot be politically motivated about it but I turn it around to him: if he was in the position tomorrow morning to make suggestions to us as to what we could do to pull up our socks, what would they be? What would Mr. Menéndez-Valdés like to see us doing as legislators? Perhaps he could give us a comprehensive overview. We would appreciate his answers. We must be concise, however, due to time constraints.

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