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

Apologies have been received from Senator Neale Richmond and Deputy David Cullinane. I remind members to ensure their mobile phones are switched off. This is important as they cause serious problems for the broadcasting, editorial and sound staff.

We will now have an engagement with Ms Almut Möller, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, on alliance building to strengthen the European Union. I am delighted to welcome Ms Möller who has travelled from Germany to speak to the committee. Members of the committee have been dealing with Brexit for months and years and they are anxious to engage with others in planning and plotting the future of Europe and what it will mean to us. We are very honoured to have Ms Möller before us and grateful to her for taking time to discuss this important topic.

The committee, in its discussions on alliance and coalition building in the European Union, has had some interesting presentations from different sections of society, both political and non-political. All previous presentations were made by senior commentators in Ireland. Sometimes it is useful to listen to and consider an outside voice.

The European Council on Foreign Relations has been carrying out some very interesting work on mapping coalitions between member states across the European Union. It has examined which countries have similar interests, which could potentially work together more closely and which may not work together. We have been discussing the various ways Ireland can build on its relationships with EU partners and continue to build strong multilayered coalitions at all levels. I look forward to hearing Ms Möller's insights on this matter.

Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her or identifiable.

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence they are to give to the committee. If they are directed to cease giving evidence on a particular subject and they continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of the evidence they give. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against an entity or a person either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

I invite Ms Möller to make her opening statement. I am sure the committee members, as well as myself, will be interested in hearing her views and in asking her a number of questions afterwards. I thank her again for being here today.


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