Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Scrutiny of EU Legislative Proposals
There are two Schedule B proposals for decision. It is proposed that COM (2014) 576 and COM (2014) 578 warrant further scrutiny. It is further proposed that further information be requested from the Department outlining the protection and enforcement of human rights within the economic partnership agreement and the impact of the agreement on the agriculture sector in the signatory west African states. Is that agreed?
It is important that the European Union engage in trade agreements and processes with countries in Africa not only to create advantageous trade for the Union but also to give African countries an opportunity to access European markets. It is also very important that any trade agreement with which the European Union is involved ensure human rights are respected within the countries with which member states are trading. The European Union has reduced aid to some west African countries owing to their regressive policies towards gay people. Gambia has changed the penalty from 14 years to life imprisonment for people who are gay.
It is important we look to ensure this trade agreement contains the infrastructure to ensure that human rights are respected among the countries with whom we trade. I would like to see further information on this and a political message from this committee with regard to that. I would also like to see this discussed on the floor of the Dáil as well tomorrow.
As a result of the decision by this committee, the EU free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru will be discussed on the floor of the Dáil, which is a very positive achievement for this committee. I look forward to a good, wholesome debate with the Minister on it tomorrow followed by a vote. It would be wrong for this to progress in any other way.
I also support calls for political reports to be prepared. The last one we had prepared on the Colombian issue was excellent and pointed out a number of issues. As a result of its work and impact, we will get the full debate in the Dáil tomorrow. Before this committee takes any decision, I support the call for a political report to be prepared by the secretariat.
I also support that call and welcome the decision we took in private session earlier that some reports would be prepared. I am obviously concerned about the correspondence we have received from the west African farmers' organisations which have serious concerns about unfair competition and the impact this agreement may have on their businesses. This is quite a complex issue. It would be appropriate for further research and documentation to be prepared for the committee before we take any further action.