Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs

Alliance Building to Strengthen the European Union (Resumed): European Council on Foreign Relations

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

All my questions are small. As we discuss the need to support one another, to identify with other groups and gain strength by association and so on, this in itself is a criticism of what we are. The European Union suggests that every person in every member state is a committed member and equal in every way to one another. It says there is no difference whatever. If my car is in one part of the Union it should be the same price in every other part of the Union. Especially for those of us on the periphery, that has gained a greater importance than before. For example, many years ago, this country's currency was aligned with the pound sterling. When the European Monetary System came in, we immediately opted to align ourselves with the Deutsche mark. That was a commitment by this country to recognise that we had to become more a part of the system, rather than remaining part of the periphery. We often discuss the regulation of medicines on the Committee on Health, of which I am a member. The Single Market and the customs union do not apply in that area. Different prices are applicable in different member states. Why? There is no reason that should be the case. We manufacture in Ireland, where there is a huge pharmaceutical industry that is proportionately much greater than our numerical strength. It is in our interest to be able to supply the 500 million people in the European Union. The motor industry is of great interest to Germany. It is in Germany's interest that it be able to supply the 500 million. Like many others here, I have always tried to support European industries in the purchase of machinery, motor vehicles and electrical goods. It is of ever increasing importance. These are all areas on which the European Union as a whole must improve to be and remain relevant and to become more relevant to the people.

I will conclude by reiterating the point about bringing the people to Europe, whereby each person who gets on the European train has a commitment to European ideals and being a European. It should not be as if we in some way are from outside the Union and are seeking admission to an inner sanctum.


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