23. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which efforts are ongoing within the European Union to address the issue of Euroscepticism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11577/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018)
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Euroscepticism is not new but in recent years it has become more vocal. In the Rome Declaration of March last year, EU Heads of State and Government pledged ‘to listen and respond to the concerns expressed by our citizens’ and to “address the challenges of a rapidly changing world. ”Having gone through a series of crises in recent years, including the Eurozone crisis, terror attacks, Migration and Brexit, the EU is now moving in a more positive direction characterised by economic growth across all member states. To maintain this impetus we need to ensure that the EU is delivering practical improvements to the lives of citizens through policies to promote jobs and growth and by addressing internal and external challenges such as migration and international terrorism. Completion of the single market and Digital Single Market – which Ireland has been pushing – are two ways of doing that.
The public launch of the Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe by the Taoiseach in November marked the formal start of a process designed to engage the Irish public directly in a debate on the kind of Europe they want to see evolve. Our aim is to raise awareness of the issues involved; to encourage participation in the debate; and to use this engagement process to formulate Ireland’s contribution to the wider European debate and specifically to President Tusk’s Leaders’ Agenda, an ambitious work programme for the EU for the next two years.
Engaging meaningfully with citizens across the Union; listening and responding to their concerns is the best means of ensuring support for our work on EU issues.