Before I introduce our witness for this session, I ask the members of the committee to ratify the draft minutes of our previous public and private meetings, which were held on 16 June. Are the minutes formally agreed and there are no matters arising? Agreed.
This meeting has been convened to hear from the European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager - I hope I pronounced that well - who has responsibility for the Making Europe Fit for the Digital Age strategy. It is my sincere honour and privilege to extend a very warm welcome to the Commissioner, who will be joining the meeting via Microsoft Teams. The format of the meeting is that I will invite the Commissioner to make her opening statement, and questions will then be posed by members of our committee. As the witness is already aware, the committee may publish her opening statement on its website following today’s meeting.
Before I invite the Commissioner to deliver her opening statement, which will be limited to five minutes, I advise the witness of the following with regard to parliamentary privilege and I hope the Commissioner and the members will bear with me while I go through these housekeeping rules. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity 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. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, they may be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such direction. Witnesses participating in this session from a jurisdiction outside the State are advised they should also be mindful of the domestic law and how that may apply to the evidence they may give.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, 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 of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present in the confines of Leinster House or the convention centre to participate in the public meeting. I will not permit members to attend unless they are adhering to that constitutional requirement and, therefore, any member not so present will be asked to leave the meeting. I also ask members to identify themselves when contributing for the benefit today of the Commissioner and of the Debates Office staff who are preparing the Official Report. I also ask that microphones be muted when not contributing to reduce background noise and feedback. I ask our guest and members to use the raise hand function on their screen if they want to contribute. We have speaking slots and it would be wonderful if we could adhere to them. I remind everyone as well to turn off their mobile phones, if at all possible.
Without further ado, we are privileged and delighted to have the Commissioner with us today. I feel a little bit of déjà vu because I had the pleasure of attending the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg at the weekend. It is wonderful to see the European flag flying in the background again today and it feels very apt after the weekend I spent in Strasbourg and in the context of the important work to be undertaken in the months ahead. I invite the Commissioner to make her official statement to the committee.