Minister Martin addresses Joint Committee on European Affairs
Posted on 11/06/09 by Micheál Martin
Mr Chairman, Members of the Committee,
Thank you for the invitation to assess and review this month's agenda for the General Affairs and External Relations Council, which will be the last under the Czech Presidency.
Before embarking on a preview of the extensive agenda I want to preface my statement with a summary of developments at the May Council.
MAY GAERC REVIEW
Lisbon Treaty Discussion
The principal item discussed during the General Affairs session of last month's meeting was the European Council agenda. At last month's GAERC it was not anticipated that the Lisbon Treaty would be discussed. Member States, however, during initial remarks, availed of the opportunity to express their support for Ireland. The Presidency assured partners that they would do their utmost to reach a successful conclusion of the negotiations on our legal guarantees. Member States were supportive of the approach being taken, that is to flesh out the substance of the guarantees promised to Ireland at the December European Council in relation to taxation, defence, the provisions of the Constitution on right to life, education and family and the solemn declaration on workers' rights. This, of course, will be in addition to the agreement we reached in December, that each Member State will retain a Commissioner in the event that the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force.
There were still a number of outstanding issues at that stage that remained to be negotiated in the intervening period. Detailed and intensive work is taking place in Brussels at official level. I myself have engaged with a number of colleagues on the matter, in face-to-face meetings and by telephone.
Discussion on External Relations issues focused on Sri Lanka which was of particular interest to members of the Committee last month.
The Council reiterated its call on the Government of Sri Lanka to proceed urgently towards a comprehensive political process. We called on the Government and the L.T