MEPs expressed solidarity with Ireland in talks on a post-Brexit agreement in the third “This is Europe” debate in Strasbourg on 8 June.
Introducing Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Parliament President Roberta Metsola said: “Renegotiating the protocol on Northern Ireland is not an option. The European Parliament has reiterated its unwavering support for the protocol on several occasions, and we remain fully committed to preserving peace on the island of Ireland.”
On the war in Ukraine, she commended the Irish government “on being the first country in the EU to waive visa requirements for Ukrainians, and for welcoming nearly 30,000 displaced Ukrainians who have sought shelter".
Martin emphasised the importance of EU membership as a tool in promoting democracy, peace and security in Europe: “I strongly support Ukraine’s application for membership.”
The Taoiseach paid tribute to the “absolutely clear” support the European Parliament has shown for the Good Friday Agreement. “Unilateral action to set aside a solemn agreement would be deeply damaging,” he said, referring to the ongoing discussions with the UK government on the Northern Ireland Protocol. “It would mark a historic low point signalling a disregard for essential principles of laws which are the foundation of international relations. And it would, quite literally, be to the benefit of absolutely no one.”
Martin also said his government was ready to “work to constructively shape our new future”. He added: “We are open to treaty change if this proves necessary. We should first, however, do what we can within the existing framework.”
Political group leaders
MEPs responded by reaffirming Parliament’s solidarity with Ireland on dealing with the consequences of Brexit and said that MEPs would continue to defend Ireland’s interests. They stressed that negotiating in good faith is the only way to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution, and that they remain concerned about the position and lack of good faith of the UK government. On the future of Europe, they appealed for a convention to allow for the EU treaties to adapt and evolve. MEPs called on Ireland to help lead the climate transition, with EU leadership crucial if Europe is to be prosperous in the future. You can watch political group leaders’ speeches here.
Watch the full debate here.