Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

European Union

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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20. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent attendance at the second Plenary Session of the Conference on the Future of Europe. [56376/21]

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Meath East, Fianna Fail)
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I participated in the second Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe which was held on 23 October in Strasbourg as a hybrid event. My colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, also participated as the second Government representative at the session. Also in attendance were the four Oireachtas representatives to the Plenary: Senator Alice-Mary Higgins; Ruairí Ó Murchú T.D.; Neale Richmond T.D.; and Niamh Smyth T.D., along with Ireland’s National Citizen Representative, Noelle O’Connell.

The Conference Plenary comprises representatives from the European Commission, the Council, the European and national parliaments, and the National Citizen Representatives from all 27 member states as well as representatives of EU social and regional bodies.

The second Plenary’s agenda covered reporting on both member states’ Conference events and the meetings of the four Citizens’ Panels held to date as well as a discussion on the Conference’s multilingual Digital Platform.

Meetings of the Plenary Working Groups, held 22 October, preceded the Plenary session. There are nine Working Groups, each one focusing on one of the nine Conference themes. The Groups provide Plenary representatives with a chance for discussion of ideas, which in turn feeds in to proceedings at the Plenary.

At my request, I have been nominated to serve as a member of the Working Group on Digital Transformation while Minister Hackett, as Ireland’s second Ministerial representative, participated in the European Democracy Working Group.

In my intervention at the Plenary session, I urged greater engagement with the Conference. I also highlighted the useful opportunity for discussion the digital platform provides while additionally noting the scope for further initiatives associated with the Platform such as greater live-streaming of events.

The Plenaries play an important role in the Conference process as they provide representatives with the chance to consider the ideas emerging from the citizens’ discussions on Europe’s future facilitated by the Conference.

The next Conference Plenary session will be held 17-18 December.

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