Senator Alice-Mary Higgins addresses “The Real State of the Union” in Brussels

“The Real State of the Union” brought together over 1,500 activists and citizens from across Europe to explore key challenges and solutions for the European Union at the current time. 

Other speakers at the event included former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, the former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa and economist Jeffery Sachs. The event was organised to coincide with the annual “State of the Union” address delivered by European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker and was organised by DiEM25 - Democracy in Europe Movement. 

Senator Higgins outlined three important and urgent conversations that we need to have as European, particularly in the context of Brexit. Firstly she discussed the distinction between securitisation and peace-building. Crucially, the European Union needs to return to the core mandate of peace-building both within and beyond its borders which was central to its origins. She expressed concern that the role of peace-building has been neglected while there has been an increasing focus on “securitisation” of borders and defence and that human rights standards have been willingly compromised in exchange for dubious and dangerous immigration control agreements with countries such as Turkey and Libya.
She highlighted the leading role which Ireland as a neutral country can play, and historically has played, in peace-building internationally.
Secondly, she called for a new and better trade model in Europe. The public must now seek to influence the trade mandate that the European Council will issue to the European Commission to negotiate with the United Kingdom for trade after Brexit.  This alternative trade mandate must break away from the model of “new generation” trade deals such as TTIP and CETA. The public must demand that issues such as the protection of equality, environment, and employment standards are placed at the centre of the negotiations. 
As her third and final point, she warned that Europe has gone from a democratic deficit to a democratic disconnect and that it is now vital that we restore faith and connection between the public and politics. Being in Europe should not feel like a narrowing of opportunities to influence democracy and debate. Being in Europe should feel like a widening and a deepening of the decision-making debate and should provide more opportunities to participate and shape the future. 


Watch Senator Higgins full speech below:

And find out more about DiEM25 here: diem25.org

More Stories

Senator Higgins, Senator Lynn Ruane and others have called on parties in Government formation talks to take concrete steps to address racism in Ireland

We all need to be in solidarity with those taking a stand against racism right now in the United States. We also need to face up to and challenge racism here in Ireland. Myself, Senator Lynn Ruane and Senator Frances Black have sent a letter co-signed by 20 other members of the Oireachtas to the leaders of the three parties currently in Government formation talks calling on them resolutely reject racist policy and rhetoric and commit to real action on inclusion and equality. ... We believe the next programme for government must; * Legislate against Hate Crime * End Direct Provision * Legislate to reverse impact of 27th amendment and stop the deportation of Irish born children * Enact our Traveller Culture and History in Education Bill * Re-establish a National Anti-Racism Body.

It is also vital that those who have sought to exploit inflammatory and racist language for perceived political or electoral advantage are not given any part in government.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins and Deputy James Lawless call for swift passage of legislation to regulate online political advertising

Today, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins and Deputy James Lawless renewed their call for the swift passage of legislation to regulate online political advertising. While welcoming Facebook's decision to stop overseas advertisement on the referendum and Google’s announcement to pause all referendum advertising until after May 25th they believe legislation is urgently needed to ensure proper transparency and regulation of online political advertising.