Committee Reflects on Successful Brussels Visit
Date: 06 October 2009
Reference: AGR 07/09/10
The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has reflected on the success of its recent visit to Brussels and the EU institutions.
Speaking following their return to Northern Ireland on Friday 2 October 2009, the Chair of the Committee, Mr Ian Paisley Jnr said: “The Committee is delighted with the positive outcomes that were achieved during the course of the visit to Brussels. In particular, we are pleased that we have been given opportunities to influence the decision-making process in respect of our fishing and dairying industries. We will be progressing these with the Department as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Paisley continued, “We were struck by the willingness of those that we met to focus not just on their particular responsibilities, be they fishing or dairying or animal welfare, but to look at the wider picture and the results of their decisions on Northern Ireland.
“As we repeatedly stated, what might seem as a minor decision in Europe can have a very major impact in Northern Ireland. This was very favourably recognised by the Commissioner for Fisheries, Joe Borg, and senior officials from Commissioner Fischer Boal’s office who accepted that the wider rural and Northern Ireland economy will be affected by decisions that will be taken in Brussels over the next few months.”
The Deputy Chairperson, Mr Tom Elliott, stated: “It was a very opportune moment for the Committee to be in Brussels, particularly as the European farming unions were also meeting that week. The UK farming unions have an office in Brussels and we were able to hear firsthand not only of the similar difficulties being faced by farmers and rural communities throughout Europe but also examples of best practice that we can carry forward in our industry.”
Mr Paisley concluded: “The Committee undertook a very intensive programme, with in excess of 15 meetings with key European personnel and this intensity was recognised by the majority of those that we met. But it was important that the Committee met with as many key people as possible in the short period available.
“This programme gave us the opportunity to personally meet many of the key policy-makers in Brussels, bring the concerns of our farmers, our fishermen and our rural communities and place these concerns before those with the authority to make decisions and ensure that they are incorporated directly into the decision-making process.
“This will not be a one-off exercise, however, because the Members of the Committee and I are committed to ensuring that the Northern Ireland rural economy, our rural families and our rural community remain at the fore, wherever decisions are being made that impact on their daily lives.”