Further to Committee approval at the March meeting, the Members welcomed Professor Ciaran White BL and Dr Francis Costello who addressed the Committee in relation to their research on the possibility of Northern Ireland securing European Parliament and European Committee of the Regions elected representation. Prof. White and Dr Costello provided a detailed research paper in advance of the meeting which was circulated to the Members. Prof. White and Dr Costello reprised key points contained within the paper and used Cyprus and France as examples in the context of restoring a democratic deficit.
The deputation then answered a number of questions, following which it was
Moved by Councillor de Faoite;
Seconded by Councillor Flynn;
That “Belfast City Council; Recognises there are concerns about a democratic deficit in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol and its implementation;
Agrees to write to the British and Irish Governments and the European Commission to propose that Northern Ireland be allocated representation in the European Parliament and European Committee of the Regions, with voting rights limited to matters which directly relate to or govern the Northern Ireland Protocol;
Believes that representation in both institutions should be commensurate with a member state of the same or similar population to ensure that Northern Ireland’s voice is adequately heard;
Proposes that the members of the European Parliament representing Northern Ireland should be directly elected and those members of the European Committee of the Regions shall be appointed by the Northern Ireland Assembly”.
Members thanked Prof. White and Dr Costello for their presentation. Discussion ensued around democracy and representation and some of the Members relayed comments and concerns to which Dr Costello and Prof. White responded. Councillor de Faoite reiterated his comments to Council on 9th May in the context of his proposal.
On a vote 6 Members voted for the proposal and 6 against.
There being an equality of votes, the Chairperson exercised his second and casting vote in favour of the proposal and it was declared carried.
The Chairperson thanked Prof. White and Dr Costello for their presentation.