Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 15 July 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs
Developments at European Union Level: Commissioner Mairead McGuinness
I thank the Commissioner for her very comprehensive overview of the issues affecting the European Commission at this time. She has responsibility for sanctions and plays a role in the preparation and monitoring of sanctions. That brings me to the situation in Belarus and the awful regime of Alexander Lukashenko, involving political prisoners, the suppression of human rights and so on. The Belarusian opposition leader is having a very successful trip to Ireland as we speak and has been very well received by many people.
I refer to the sanctions being imposed on Belarus. Sanctions were imposed on 78 individuals and eight entities, as well as seven economic sectors. How are they going? Is there any feedback on the effect they are having on the Belarusian regime? Is there scope for more sanctions? What kind of extra sanctions or pressure can be brought to bear on the regime? This follows the outrageous hijacking of the Ryanair plane and the incarceration of Roman Protasevich and his partner. I am interested in hearing what the Commissioner has to say about that.
The Commissioner did not deal with this in her opening statement, and I know it is not part of her brief, but I would like her to comment on rule of law issues generally and the position in Hungary. In a report published yesterday it was stated the European Commission is to launch a legal action against Hungary today in response to a law seen as discriminating against LGBTQ citizens. The Dutch Prime Minister has gone so far as to say that Hungary should leave the EU. European values are under threat in Hungary, in particular, as well as in other countries. Is there a real commitment by the Commission and the other institutions to deal with this issue or does the realpolitikof the European Council mean it is never effectively addressed?
I refer specifically to the EU recovery and resilience facility. Hungary's application for €7.2 billion from that fund still has not been agreed. Is that due to the content of the plan it has submitted or rule of law issues? In summary, can real sanctions be imposed on these states?
I want to throw in a bit of a hand grenade regarding the OECD moves in respect of global corporate taxation. Does the Commissioner believe the OECD will reach agreement on the 15% corporate tax rate and the other measures proposed? Does she think Ireland should sign up to that? If the OECD does not come to an agreement, is the EU willing to press ahead with our own arrangements to deal with this issue?