Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Post-European Council: Statements
Guím Nollaig shona don Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Bhí mé ar tí comhghairdeas a ghabháil leis an Taoiseach ach faraor géar tá sé imithe. Cheap mé go raibh sé anseo don chéad uair chun éisteacht agus b’fhéidir chun beagáinín a fhoghlaim. I have only four minutes. I realise the challenge which Brexit is and realise the work that the Minister of State is attempting to do. Ultimately, the challenge is a trading one. I have looked at the conclusions from the Council meeting. They come to five or six pages, one on Brexit. Nowhere do I see recognition of the challenges facing Europe of climate change, the challenges from within the EU itself in the countries I mentioned, to which I will return if I have time, and the building up of the military industrial complex and European army. If anything encapsulates the failure to recognise these it is where, in the conclusion, five lines are given to climate change, the biggest threat facing Europe.
In the last year or two, three journalists have been murdered, namely the Maltese journalist investigating corruption there who was killed on 16 October 2017, the Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, and, in February, a journalist in Slovakia. The murder of journalists as they attempt to bring accountability to the system is a serious threat to Europe. Then there is the failure of Europe, and this country, to say anything about the murder of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi because the arms industry is far more important. Outside the USA, the EU is the largest maker and exporter of arms, particularly the UK and France, and particularly to Saudi Arabia. Look at what has happened in Europe; some of the countries have already been mentioned. Look at Viktor Orbán in Hungary. There are four unelected presidents of Europe heading the Central Bank, the European Council, the European Commission and the euro, all of them men. One of them, the unelected man who addressed this House, is on record as saying that Orbán was his favourite dictator. As others to my left here have noted, Orbán has just passed a slave law which will allow employers to ask their workers to take on up to 400 hours overtime annually. There is a serious crisis in Poland and one in France, where Paris is burning. There are any number of other countries where democracy is threatened, yet there is absolutely no recognition of that in any of the documents that I have read here.
Around the same time that the Council was meeting, two other very significant conferences took place. At the beginning of December the Berlin security conference, which discussed an army for the Europeans, and there was the annual conference of the European Defence Agency. There the German defence minister said that the European defence union was in the making and she spoke of Europe providing its own security entirely to legitimise EU wars - unfortunately, that was a woman speaking. We have the European Defence Agency and the fund, and behind that there is a committee of personalities - maybe the Minister of State has met some of them - but luckily for us, the European Ombudsman has had great trouble with these. The purpose of the European personalities was to advise on military conflicts and defence. Of that committee, a significant proportion were from various industrial complexes who have benefitted from it.
I will finish, in fairness to my colleague. We have a Europe which is seriously unable to put a mirror before itself to look at the lack of democracy. That is why the far right is rising throughout Europe. We ignore that at our peril.