We Must be at the Heart of Europe Says Committee
Date: Monday, 20 June 2011
Reference: COFMDFM 02/11/12
Improving the understanding of European Union (EU) priorities such as sustainable economic growth, renewable energy and climate change is vital to allow Assembly Committees to engage with European Union bodies. That was the key message at a Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMDFM) event, held today in Parliament Buildings.
Understanding the EU’s concerns will help Committees to carry out their role in examining the way Government departments and the Northern Ireland Executive work in Europe.
The event brought together MLAs, Members of the European Parliament and representatives to other EU bodies as well as local government and Northern Ireland Executive Department representatives.
Chairperson of COFMDFM, Tom Elliott MLA said: “Engagement with the EU bodies, networks and programmes is crucial if we want to encourage a more productive and strategic way of dealing with Europe. We need to involve ourselves in the networks in the EU and be seen as good Europeans. It is often within these networks that the ideas which become EU policy begin.
“My Committee leads on co-ordinating the consideration of European matters within the Assembly. By setting up an advisory panel we can better co-ordinate action across Committees involved in scrutinising Government departments. The panel will include our representatives to the EU and will allow them to hear the views of MLAs and Committees on issues relevant to Northern Ireland.
“Priorities set by the European Commission must become our priorities as it is these areas which will attract funding.
“The Northern Ireland Executive leads on instituting policies and initiatives. But it is for us to advise them and we can only do this if we have an understanding of the avenues of influence and funding that are open to us.
During the previous Mandate, the then Committee for the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister produced a report on European issues with recommendations. The current Committee is now taking forward the recommendations.
Notes to Editors:
Devolved administrations across the United Kingdom were given a framework for working with the EU and its institutions in a Memorandum of Understanding, updated in March 2010. Contained within this Memorandum was the statement that: “The devolved legislatures may wish to set up a procedure to allow them to scrutinise EU issues relating to devolved matters to ensure its interests are properly reflected”.