The European Union (Approvals) Bill is a two-clause Bill, as the Minister has said. It will approve four draft decisions of the Council of the European Union in relation to the participation of the Republics of Albania and Serbia as observers in the work of the Agency for Fundamental Rights, and the signing and conclusion of a new agreement between the EU and Canada regarding competition law, including the exchange of information between the EU and the Canadian Competition Bureau. Approval of those decisions by means of an Act of Parliament is necessary under the European Union Act 2011 in order for a Minister to vote in favour in the Council.
The Fundamental Rights Agency replaced the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia in 2007. As the Europa website states, the agency advises EU institutions and national Governments on fundamental rights, particularly in the areas of discrimination, access to justice, racism and xenophobia, data protection, victims’ rights and children’s rights. The agency’s areas of work have been determined through a five-year framework, and the main priority areas include the fight against racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. EU candidate countries can participate in the FRA as observers. The Bill approves two draft decisions on the participation of the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Serbia as observers in the FRA’s work. We support the draft decisions concerning the participation of Albania and Serbia in the FRA.
Competition is vital to our economy, the success of our businesses and the prosperity of the people of our country, and the encouragement of healthy competition is vital. National Governments have a vital role in ensuring that a fair market exists, and not just a free market. The way in which Governments work together is also crucial in determining whether markets are free, fair or otherwise. The decision of the Trump regime to impose punitive tariffs on Bombardier will have a disastrous effect on the workers and communities of Northern Ireland, and on the economy. Such tariffs, if they are allowed to stand, exemplify the use by companies such as Boeing of market dominance to destroy competition.