Emily Binchy gives us a rundown of Frans Timmerman’s address to UCD LawSoc.
UCD’s Law Society hosted First Vice President for the European Commission, Mr Frans Timmermans in a questions and answers session this week.
Timmermans was introduced by Professor Colin Scott, principle of UCD’s College of Social Sciences and Law and Professor of EU regulation and governance. Professor Scott praised the Law Society for engaging with the most important issues facing us and for fostering global thought among students.
In his introduction, Professor Scott listed Mr Timmermans achievements, outlining how he was appointed in 2014 by President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker as European Commissioner for better regulation, inter-institutional relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Professor Scott lauded Mr Timmermans commitment to human rights and to a passionate vision of what Europe can and should be.
The questions and answers session was chaired by Aodhan Peelo, auditor of the Law Society. Peelo began with a question on what Mr Timmermans considered to be the greatest achievement of the EU to date. Mr Timmermans without hesitation identified the fall of the Berlin wall and the successful integration of the Baltic States to the union. Mr Timmermans then highlighted that given the present situation between Russia and Ukraine, had the Baltic States not been integrated into the EU they may have faced a similar situation to Ukraine.
When questions were opened up to the audience, one student asked Mr Timmermans what he considered to be the most significant benefits of the EU. Commissioner Timmermans identified the fostering of the European ideal as one of the largest benefits pertaining to the union, underlining that the values which we share as Europeans are far greater than those which divide us.
Commissioner Timmermans explained how we, as Europeans, occupy a shrinking share of this world due to demographic change. He highlighted the EU’s model of social justice as unique to the world and the EU institutions as well as the single market and currency are not goals per se, rather the EU is more orientated towards creating a decent and sustainable society.
In response to a question regarding Brexit and what Commissioner Timmermans believes to be the future of the EU, Commissioner Timmermans highlighted the need to be more forthcoming in both our defence and our criticism of the union. He went on to explain that in being brutally honest about it’s deficiencies, this will aid member states in identifying the crucial problems to be fixed. He also added that member states need to avoid using the union as a scapegoat and to learn to accept their own failures.
In placing emphasis on the idealism of young people, Mr Timmermans encouraged our generation to defend the union as opposed to passively accepting it.