A MEETING of parliamentarians from across the European Union, being held in Dublin today, will aim to discuss how life for people in the EU will be affected after the financial crises in the various member states begin to ease.
The chairpersons of the parliamentary finance committees from each of the 27 member states will meet at an event in Dublin Castle, where one of the topics to the discussed will be how to ensure that financial troubles across the continent will reap a social dividend in future.
The meeting will be addressed by the two European Commissioners responsible for financial and budgeting matters, Olli Rehn and Janusz Lewandowski, and by their Irish counterparts Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin.
The chair of the Oireachtas finance committee, Labour TD Ciarán Lynch, said he would use the forum to lead a discussion on “where Europe is going at present”.
“The whole fiscal adjustment that has taken place across the European Union and here in Ireland is a process that has brought about a significant level of hardship,” he told TheJournal.ie.
“What is the dividend that Europe is trying to achieve?” he asked, saying Europe needed to ensure that it focussed not only on its financial and monetary problems but also on maintaining the standard of living for its people.
It’s not just about looking at the balance sheet, [...] but asking: ‘Why are we doing this? What is the social dividend that we also need to be targeting?’
Lynch also said the meeting, which forms part of the ‘parliamentary tier’ of Ireland’s EU presidency, would discuss the possibility of whether the chairmen of European finance committees could share some of the role of scrutinising the budgets of member states.
Under laws agreed last week which should be introduced later this year, EU countries will have to submit draft versions of their Budgets to Brussels each October – but it has been suggested that the finance chairs could share some of the scrutiny.
Though this would add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the budget approval process, it would also mean that budgets would be scrutinised by directly elected parliamentarians and not by the European Commission, whose members are approved only by MEPs.
Today’s meeting, which begins at 8:15am, can be viewed here.