On Wednesday, MEPs expressed their solidarity with Ireland in negotiations with the UK on a post-Brexit agreement in the latest “This is Europe” debate in Strasbourg.
Introducing Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin to the plenary session, EP President Roberta Metsola said on the question of the Northern Ireland Protocol: “Renegotiating the protocol on Northern Ireland is not an option. The EP 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, President Metsola 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.”
Emphasising the importance of EU membership as a tool in promoting democracy, peace and security in Europe, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I strongly support Ukraine’s application for membership and I look forward to the Commission’s opinion. I hope that, when the European Council meets in June, it will be possible to send the people of Ukraine a clear and positive message.”
Following the unveiling with President Metsola on Tuesday evening of a statue in honour of former MEP and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, Mr Martin 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.”
On the debate on the future of Europe, Mr Martin said his government was ready for the debate, and “will work to constructively shape our new future and are open to treaty change if this proves necessary. We should first, however, do what we can within the existing framework.”
Political group leaders
In their response to Mr Martin’s address, MEPs reaffirmed the Parliament’s solidarity with Ireland on dealing with the consequences of Brexit and 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. On the climate crisis, MEPs called for 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.
You can watch the full debate here.
This was the third in a series of debates on the EU titled “This is Europe” on a common agenda for Europe’s future. The first one was held with Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, at the March plenary session, and the second with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in May.