The Future of the local Parish in the E. U.

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The European Union presently has fifteen Member States and there is a population of 370 million people living within the E.U. at this time. The population of the European Union will increase in size with the admission of ten new Member States on May 1st 2004.

This will mean that the population of the European Union will rise to S00 million people and we will have a community of 25 different countries stretching from Ireland through to the Baltics and from Finland to Greece.

What is the future of the local Parish in an expanding European Union?

The bottom line is that the European Union does not seek to diminish or take away from the traditional and diverse roles that local parishes in Ireland have played in the development of our local community. Different countries in Europe have given the European Union power to bring forward law to promote economic development and to promote consumer protection and to help in the whole area of job creation.

However, the European Union fully appreciates and supports the principle of ensuring that as much power as possible is administered locally. This is what is known as the principle of subsidiarity. ln fact the European Union has co-financed a number of different programmes which are based on the collective and creative resources to help in the area of job creation.

For example, the Leader Rural Development programme has been in operation since 1993. This is funded heavily by the European Union but the funding is directed by local communities to help in the area of job creation. Equally, the European Union is a strong contributor to the European Social Fund which finances many job training and employment initiatives.

The European Union only has power in areas where the different Member States want to give it that power. The European Union does not have control over taxation issues in Ireland or in the European Union. Taxes are a matter best dealt with by National Governments and by local communities. The European Union would not seek to intrude upon this power in any shape or form.

But the European Union is premised on the need to ensure that small Member States develop positively in an economic sense. However equally it is very important that peripheral and regional areas of Europe are given strong support so as to guarantee that all areas in Europe can develop, grow and prosper. That is why as a member of the industry Committee of the European Parliament l have supported new E.U. legislation in the field of telecommunications which supports the development of a strong telecom infrastructure in all rural areas of Ireland and in Europe. We do not want to build a European Union of the haves and have nots.

If job creation is to be secured in Athenry in County Galway and in the West of Ireland then local businesses must have access to high level internet and broadband services.

This is the core of a new E.U. proposal which has been brought forward at this time.

In the area of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, we have supported measures in the dairy, beef and sheep sectors which will guarantee the continuation of traditional family farming. The Common Agricultural Policy is more important to Ireland than to any other Member State within the European Union. But we must ensure that ongoing reforms of the CAP protect the vital interests and concerns of small and medium sized family farms now and into the future.

In conclusion I believe that the future of the local Parish in Ireland is a bright one. We must continue at national and European level to bring forward initiatives and proposals which can guarantee the ongoing development of local communities across the whole range of social and economic services.

This means that local communities have access to high level telecom services, good road, water and sewerage networks and the benefits of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Seán ÓNeachtain is a Member of the European Parliament

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About this record

Written by Sean O Neachtain

Published here 09 Feb 2024 and originally published Summer 2003

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