EU Affairs Committee Chairman Michael Healy Rae TD welcomes Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address

The Chairman of the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, Deputy Michael Healy Rae TD has today welcomed the annual State of the Union address delivered by the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, to the European Parliament.

“I very much appreciate and welcome the positive outlook and Agenda that President Juncker has put forward. The emphasis on strengthening trade, supporting industry, addressing climate change,  responding to modern digital challenges and on continuing to face up to the significant migration challenges which exists are all needed, and are welcome.”

“Today the European Commission signalled over 70 initiatives that it intends to take next year. Some of these I expect to be very technical and detailed in nature. Some are more fundamental and some go straight to the heart of how the EU is established. For example, the proposal to merge the roles of the President of the European Commission and the European Council, will have to be considered as part of a wider discussion on how the institutions operate.  
The suggestion on moving voting within the Council from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV) on tax and financial matters is an interesting idea. But I would caution that there are very few areas that are covered by unanimity in the Treaty, and for a very good reason – they are the few areas that are core to how countries operate, so this proposal, like many proposed today, will have to be considered judiciously.”

President Juncker has now tabled a ‘sixth scenario’, in addition to five existing scenarios contained in the Future of Europe White Paper. This is a useful addition to that very important, strategic debate. What direction the EU should go in is vitally important to us all. That is why the Houses of the Oireachtas’ Joint Committee on European Union Affairs will be holding a number of meetings of engagement  with representative groups over the Autumn, and has also made a call for submissions from the public. As a Committee, we would welcome input into this process. What EU we are part of, what it looks like and what direction it should take is important to all of us.

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