Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (40)

Cian O'Callaghan


40. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Foreign Ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in correspondence dated 6 May 2020 have raised serious concerns regarding the rule of law and democracy in Hungary; his views on these concerns; if other EU member states will be supported in their efforts to ensure democracy and the rule of law is maintained across the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6968/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am aware of the Joint Letter from the Foreign Ministers of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in regard to Member State responses to the Covid-19 outbreak. This followed on from the release on 8 April of a “toolkit” on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and a Statement of 22 April last which was agreed by all 47 Council of Europe Member States. Both of these initiatives were welcomed by the EU.

The rule of law, democracy and respect for fundamental rights are core principles of the EU. It is precisely during a time of crisis such as this that all EU Member States should stick to these shared values.

 Ireland along with 18 other EU Member States issued a Joint Statement on the Rule of Law in the context of the Covid-19 crisis on 1 April last. Ireland and the other signatories affirmed their support for the European Commission initiative to monitor the emergency measures and their application across Member States to ensure the fundamental values of the Union are upheld.

On 22 April last, I took part in an informal video conference with my Foreign Minister counterparts to discuss the EU and Member States’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We exchanged views on the measures taken so far, at both EU and national levels, and the importance of ensuring such measures are proportionate and respect fundamental rights and the rule of law.