Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Report of Committee of Selection: Motion
Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, together.
I had a short courtesy meeting with European Commission Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the digital age and competition, Margrethe Vestager, on 30 September. This year marks 50 years since the Irish people voted to join what is now the European Union, and Ireland and Denmark became members on the same day, 1 January 1973. Executive Vice-President Vestager and I reflected on the impact of European Union membership in our respective countries over those years. Our discussion also focused on topical European Union issues. We discussed Russia's escalating war against Ukraine, and the resolute response of the European Union. I expressed Ireland's strong support for Ukraine and its people, highlighting the generous response of the Irish people, and our support for Ukraine's application for membership of the European Union. We also discussed how to ensure continuing effective support from the European Union to Ukraine, including our humanitarian response as winter approaches, and how we can support its immediate and future financial needs. We discussed the impact of the war on energy supply and prices and we agreed the need for a co-ordinated and effective response at European Union level to ensure security of supply and support for citizens and businesses. I acknowledged the importance of the temporary crisis framework that was adopted by the Commission in March to enable member states to use the flexibility foreseen under state aid rules to support the economy in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
We also discussed the economic outlook for the European Union and the risk of a sustained downturn. We agreed the need for the European Union to remain flexible in our response, while preserving its global competitiveness and the integrity of our Single Market. Next year will mark 30 years of the European Union's Single Market. Executive Vice-President Vestager and I reaffirmed the importance of the Single Market of over 450 million people, which is at the heart of today's European Union and is among its finest achievements. It enables free movement of people, goods, services and capital; reduces transaction costs for cross-border trade; facilitates the market-based competition that delivers greater quality and choice to consumers; and sets the strategic context and regulatory standards for innovation and productivity growth. I was pleased to have the opportunity on 27 October to deliver the opening address at the Ireland and the Single Market conference, organised as part of our national EU50 programme. In my remarks, I highlighted the strategic importance of the Single Market as a core foundation of Europe's peace and prosperity.