We are here to further scrutinise EU legislative proposal COM (2021) 851, which is a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the environment through criminal law and replacing directive 2008/99/EC.
I propose that we give one hour to this discussion and in the latter part of the meeting we will discuss the other legislative proposals. Is that okay with members? Following this discussion, we will need to make a decision on whether it is necessary for a reasoned opinion to be sent to the Dáil on this particular proposal.
I welcome to the meeting officials from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, including Mr. John Finnegan, principal officer. Mr. Aidan Ryan, who is joining us on Microsoft Teams, is the permanent representative of Ireland to the European Union in Brussels. He is very welcome this morning. Both Mr. Finnegan and Mr. Ryan will speak to COM (2021) 851. We are also joined by Mr. Noel Regan and Mr. Kevin Brady, both principal officers in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications as well. They are also very welcome this morning.
Before beginning I will read the note on privilege. I remind the witnesses of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity outside the Houses by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. If witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory regarding an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue the remarks and it is imperative that they comply with any such direction. For the witness attending remotely and outside Leinster House, there are limitations to parliamentary privilege and as such, he may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present does.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I remind members that they are only allowed to participate in this meeting if they are physically located in the Leinster House complex. I ask all members joining online from within the confines of the Leinster House complex to confirm they are on the campus. I also remind members they can attend the committee meeting in person if they so wish or by dialling in via their offices with Microsoft Teams.
Mr. Finnegan may now provide an opening statement.