Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Post-European Council: Statements
The headline from the European Council meeting was the green new deal put forward by the new European Commission President, a legally binding commitment by the EU to work towards carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes a 50% to 55% emissions reduction target for 2030. That is a big deal. Involved in this is the establishment of a just transition mechanism worth up to €100 billion. In this context, the outcome of the COP25 summit in Madrid was disappointing. There was no breakthrough there. I appreciate the positions of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic which had difficulties signing up to this. I gather Poland did not sign up to it in the end.
Has any thought been given as to how Ireland might access the just transition fund in due course? Is peat production in the midlands envisaged as an area that could be addressed by the fund?
I gather there were difficult negotiations around the multi-annual financial framework, MFF, which were deadlocked for much of the time. Will the Minister of State indicate what contribution from Ireland is being sought? What are we offering at this stage in the negotiations? The Taoiseach has spoken about a €1 billion fund to support Northern Ireland after Brexit. Is that a realistic possibility?
I welcome the decision of the Government to work to protect the Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, Horizon, Erasmus+ and the Cohesion Fund.
What is Ireland’s position on the future of Europe conference to be held next year? Will it involve treaty change or an intergovernmental conference? I do not believe that is something we should envisage. My colleague, Deputy Micheál Martin, said earlier that what we really need is a more practical agenda to tackle the problems faced by the citizens of Europe.
While I have the floor, I wish the Minister of State a happy and peaceful Christmas. We all appreciate her coming into the Chamber during the course of the year, as well as appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, to answer our questions. It is appreciated by all Members.