Seanad Éireann - Volume 130 - 05 December, 1991

Developments in the European Community: Motion (Resumed).

[1376] The following motion was moved by Senator Fallon on Wednesday, 4 December 1991:

That Seanad Éireann, convinced that the welfare and prosperity of the Irish people can best be advanced through Ireland's membership of the European Community, satisfied that full and balanced integration of the Community will lead to greater economic growth, social progress and increased employment,

believing that the Community should have an enhanced voice in international affairs, to which Ireland can contribute,

persuaded of the need for the work of the Intergovernmental Conferences on Political and Economic and Monetary Union to be brought to a successful conclusion at the European Council in Maastricht in December,

fully supports the Government in their determined and constructive efforts to ensure that the new Union is firmly grounded in economic and social cohesion and solidarity between the member States and that all will share fully in the fruits of its economic and social development.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:

After “development” to add to the motion the following:

“conscious of the positive contribution the creation of a Europe without internal barriers can make to the creation of additional employment, calls on the Government to adopt the following negotiating position at the summit in Maastricht:

1. to fully support moves towards a single European currency in conjunction with support for the Spanish insistence that a new Treaty contain a legally enforceable guarantee of adequate continuing financial support [1377] for poorer regions and states along the lines that already apply within the Federal German Constitution;

2. to support the democratisation of the European Community by giving extra powers to the European Parliament including the appointment of the President and membership of the Commission, and the introduction of a directly elected Upper House of that Parliament with equal representation of all Community states along the lines of the United States Senate;

3. to support proposals for the extension of majority voting in the Council of Ministers in order to speed up the Community decision-making;

4. to simplify the proposals for co-decision making between Parliament and Council, which are so complicated in their present form as to constitute a potential barrier to progress;

5. to insist on a commitment by Heads of Government at Maastricht to revise the current proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy so as to guarantee continued support for those forms of agriculture which, by using locally produced raw materials, guarantee the security of European food supplies in all contingencies;

6. to support the development of a security and defence competence within the Community Treaty, so as to ensure that all states in Europe have a say in matters affecting their future and the preservation from external threat of the political union that is to be created;

7. to support the vigorous development of the Council of Europe as a means of allowing all European states, including those not yet ready for full Community membership, to participate in the building of a `Common European Home';

8. to demand that the European Treaty contain a commitment to the [1378] goal of full employment and a commitment to provide the means of achieving it; and

9. to support devolution and regionalisation within member states of the Community, including Ireland with involvement of elected representatives.

—(Senator Doyle.)

Professor Raftery: I would like to repeat my belief that commitment to cohesion no longer exists in the Community. It is all rhetoric with little action. I believe that commitment went out the window with the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Germany particularly and other countries on mainland Europe are far more interested in peace, stability and markets on their eastern flank than they are in poverty on the western flank. How can the Community be serious about cohesion when it prevents a little poor country like Ireland from developing its only real resources, agriculture and fishing?

I want to turn now to political union. The Community is now the largest trading bloc in the world. It has a moral obligation to play a greater political role on the world stage. It will soon be much larger and possibly by the end of the century have over 400 million people. That puts us in a situation where we must have greater regard for matters relating to peace, disarmament, preventing of nuclear and chemical proliferation, helping to prevent outbreaks of war in places like Yugoslavia and possibly, and I regret to have to say this, the Soviet Union or the former Soviet Union. The world is now more dangerous than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis and that has arisen as a direct result of the chaos that is left after the fall of Communism. People are now reasserting their rights and former enmity is coming to the surface at a dangerous rate in that part of the world. We are standing idly by. The Community is an economic giant but a political mouse.

Lastly, I wish to refer to the European [1379] Parliament. As a former Member of that House I support the call for greater powers for the Parliament, but that must be accompanied by better briefing for all parliamentarians. As a Member of that Parliament I regarded the briefing we were getting from our Government as little better than useless. It always arrived too late. Briefing, if it is to be effective, should arrive before the first reading of a report at Committee Stage and certainly before the second reading. Arriving on the day the vote is to be taken in Strasbourg is useless because the game is already lost at that stage. I am appalled and amazed that there is not better briefing for people who now have a direct influence on the legislation that affects all our lives. If the parliamentarians get more power, as they probably will, after the Summit, then it becomes even more important that we do something about briefing and that the 15 MEPs should be met regularly in this country by possibly the Foreign Minister or various other Ministers to brief them on issues of importance to our economy and our future.

I regret to say that I am not happy with many of the things that are happening in Europe — the Europe that we joined — and many of the commitments made are not being lived up to. Spain clearly sees the danger about the commitment to cohesion and the Spanish Prime Minister has put it on the line fairly firmly that he is prepared to use the veto in Maastricht if he does not get what he wants. I regret that our Government are not showing the same commitment to get what we are entitled to. I hope the Taoiseach, when he goes there, will show a bit more aggression and determination to get what we are legitimately entitled to. We voted for the Single European Act. In that Act there was a commitment to cohesion. That commitment is diluted, if it has not disappeared and we will all be the poorer for that.

If there were another alternative to remaining in the Community I would be seriously considering discussing getting out of it, but there is no alternative. [1380] Unfortunately, as a small open trading nation, we have no option but to be in there and since we are locked in with no other alternative then we must fight to get the best deal possible. We will only bring our standard of living up to the levels in mainland Europe when we can get a chance to develop our resources, not just from handouts but from markets, and we are prevented from doing so at present by quotas on our milk, sugar, beet, cereals and fish. That is entirely inequitable for a poor little nation trying to come to grips with its terrible economic and unemployment problems.

Professor Conroy: The European Community is an organisation with which we are becoming more and more closely associated. Yet I wonder what is our national objective? Why is it that we are moving, with fairly wide all party support, towards being members of the European Community? Why is that perhaps more than any other nation in the present European Community we make efforts to demonstrate our communantaire mentality? We regularly, on all possible occassions, fly the various flags of the European Community? What today is our national objective? What self-image do we have of ourselves in this country? What is our belief in ourselves? I have no doubt but that it is a very deep belief, but it is one which is very much in a state of flux. Indeed part of the discussion this morning, the byplay at our Order of Business, indicates some of this.

Right through our history we have always, with the exception of the 19th century been very closely associated with the rest of Europe. In historical times, when the trade routes were primarily sea trade routes, for hundreds of years we were associated with Europe and there are ancient connections and clerical connections. Yet we have also been different in all sorts of other ways, perhaps the primary technical reason being that we were never occupied by the Romans whereas virtually the whole of the rest of mainland Europe was; whereas and on the other hand, there is the fact that we were attached to a neighbouring country [1381] for a prolonged period against our will. There is in fact — and let us not move away from this — still a matter between this country and the United Kingdom. There is nobody more friendly in many ways than myself with our good colleagues in the United Kingdom, but there is a matter on which we do have very legitimate and genuine differences. Our anxiety to minimise violence and to minimise the appalling sufferings and atrocities in the North does not mean that we do not have legitimate concerns and objectives. There are times when I wonder if we try to subsume these objectives, almost to endeavour to have an amnesia or forgetfulness or a way of hiding them from ourselves by being very European, and in some ways that is an unhealthy attitude. We have to be prepared to solve our own problems in our own country and with our own immediate neighbour on the basis of the true peace, justice and prosperity of the people, firstly, of this island and, secondly, of the two neighbouring islands.

What is our belief? Where are we going? Why would a referendum regarding the development of the European Community almost certainly pass in this country? My colleague, Senator Lydon, pointed out on possible reason why it might not pass; and, important though that reason is on moral grounds, it is not necessarily a political attitude. Yet some people like the distinguished Senator who has just spoken, some people who are very close to the European Community, who have deep experience of it, nonetheless have reservations. There was, of course, an example of one country, Greenland, which did decide for its own good reasons — a very special case, admittedly — to leave the Community. I do not think there is any pressure here to leave the Community but there is a sense of times of being tied to the wheels of the chariot; and if we are waiting for increased quotas in milk and other agricultual produce, unfortunately, as we all know, we will be waiting a very long time.

Where are we going with the Community? [1382] Will this general euphoria regarding the Community continue? What is our attitude towards it? We are moving out of the begging bowl situation. We realise more and more that there are amounts from the Community to which we are entitled. By the very definition of the Community we are entitled to regional and other appropriate funds. It is up to us to ensure that we get the maximum amount from these funds and put them to the maximum good use. Nobody else is going to do it for us. We cannot expect civil servants in Brussels or anywhere else to do our work for us in that regard. We have to be out there doing it. Successive Governments have, by and large, done a very good job on this, as have successful civil services.

What one might query is the use to which we are putting regional funds. At the end of the day it is hard, competitive world out there. We have not got a great lot going for us. Our best natural resources are our people. That is very true. Once we go outside that, our other great natural resource is our agriculture. That is not exactly the most attractive natural resource to have as one's primary resource in the Europe of today, with its huge agricultural surpluses. How are we going to survive in this European Community which we are entering so blithely and in such unanimous agreement? The European Community is essential for us. Equally, there will be a very tough situation for us in the coming years unless we ensure that we are extremely competitive.

As regards the European Structural Funds, perhaps the most useful purpose to which such funds can be put for us is in developing our infrastructure. It really concerns me at times when I hear the oft repeated arguments here against, for example, motorways. Goodness knows, we have not got any motorways in this country. We have not got a road structure worth looking at. From an outside businessman's point of view, if he takes one look at our infrastructure here, and certainly if he looks at the road situation, he just writes us off straight away. We have not to be a lot more realistic about such [1383] ideas, unless perhaps we take the attitude — and maybe it is a justifiable one — that we are happy to be a sort of recreation centre for the wealthier European countries so that their citizens will have second homes in this country and will come over here and visit us; that we are happy to get a certain amount of subsidies and so on, and content to stay as one of the poorer countries indefinitely and in perpetuity, providing labour for the wealthier countries and, as I say, holiday homes for their wealthier citizens. That, to me, is not a very attractive prospect. If we are not going to accept that as a prospect, we have to be competitive. We have to make sure that the funds which we receive are put to good purpose. We have to be prepared to look in a cold, hard light at what our competitive situation is. We are peripheral. We have a very poor infrastructure from a transport point of view. That is, perhaps, one of the first things we have to look at.

Secondly, we have to realise that we are in a market which, as Senator Raftery has said, will be approximately 400 million people at the end of the century. There will be very strong competitive forces within it. Let me just for a moment look at agriculture, since this is our main single industry. The simple fact of the matter is that at present we are already, in the European Community in severe surplus as regards agriculture. We have taken in East Germany; it has just come straight into the Community. We have already agreed arrangements with the Eastern European countries whereby their barriers to European Community exports will be lowered over a period of ten years. But over a far shorter period the barriers of the European Community will be lowered to the vast agricultural surpluses of Eastern Europe. Foodstuffs, meat, milk, cereals, vegetables and a whole series of products are far cheaper there already than anything we can possibly hope to produce in Western Europe and, in particular, in this country. There will be a huge problem for us over the coming decade. I do not think we, both [1384] at Government level and in our Department of Agriculture, have begun to look at this very seriously. I am not at all sure if at national level, it is even perceived as yet as being one of the problems which will arise. There will be knock-on effects on the rest of our Community.

Coming away from agriculture, we have had a tremendous success over the past decade — and, indeed, since the sixties — in becoming a very successful exporting country in pharmaceuticals, electronics and a whole series of industries. Full credit is deserved by everyone concerned. Credit is due to management, workers, sales people, Córas Tráchtála, the Government and to everybody who has been involved in this tremendously successful effort.

We are going to meet up with a lot of problems in the very near future. I am very much in favour, let me add, of the Eastern European countries rejoining the rest of Europe and the European Community. But there are going to be one or two little practical problems, such as the fact that the average wage for an industrial worker in relatively developed and relatively potentially competitive countries such as Czechoslovakia is somewhere around about IR£1,200 to £1,500 per annum. Whatever other deficits they may have in Eastern Europe, they have a relatively high educational level. There are very good engineers in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. Their wage is about IR£3,000-£4,000 per annum. There are all sorts of implications in terms of competitiveness. Certain industries, which on a worldwide competitive basis are under threat, are industries such as electronics. In certain aspects of that, European companies have been very successful; but not, for example, in the computer field. In smaller specialised fields, such as medical electronics, we in Europe have been very successful. Pharmaceuticals have been extremely good at being competitive.

Ten or 15 years ago the Japanese car industry was a very minor part of the European market and a very minor part of the American market; now, as someone else commented, perhaps a majority [1385] of cars sold in this country are Japanese cars. They have a huge part of the US and North American market. They have an increasing share of the rest of the European market, despite many tariffs to try to keep them out. The Japanese have almost no share at all in pharmaceuticals. They have not even begun there yet. They are certainly on their way. In another five to ten years the European pharmaceutical market is going to be under very severe pressure from the Japanese pharmaceuticals. In turn, since this is one of our main growth areas and successful exporting industries, it has implications for us.

What is our objectives? We need to think in two terms: first — and this is a debate which has not even begun yet — what is the national identity of this country? Where are we going? Two, on a very hard and practical realistic note, how are we going to compete? It must be upmarket. It must be with a good infrastructure. It must be relying on those qualities which we possess.

Professor Murphy: Though we are late in the day coming to this subject in Seanad Éireann, I think the debate so far has been very well worthwhile. We have had some very interesting and surprising contributions. We have got away from that bland Eurospeak which, as, Senator Doyle observed, was very much the tone of many of the speakers in the other House. If we had had an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and if, indeed, our EC Committee had had a wider brief over the past several years, I am sure we could all speak about this with far greater authority. As it is, it is very hard to make coherence, to use a fashionable word, of such a bewildering array of articles and, in the last two days, of books and booklets on this whole significant topic.

Senator Doyle praised her leader's graphic and homely metaphor in the other House, when Deputy Bruton spoke about your £100 vanishing as you travel throughout the European Community states, changing from one currency to another, and coming home with only £26 [1386] in your pocket. It is the obverse of the kind of thing you would hear old timers saying about going on a day's outing to the seaside long ago: you had this and you had that and you came home with change in your pocket. Senator Doyle says that Deputy Bruton's graphic illustration brought the realities of European Monetary Union home to people, showed them how useful it would be and what savings would be effected through a single monetary unit.

That is all very well for those who have the privilege of travelling in Europe and of changing money from country to country, but what is of more importance to the great majority of people in this country is how much of this will they see without moving at all? What greater value will the ECU note in their pocket have over the former punt? On a larger scale that question also applies to the whole matter of cohesion even supposing that the Community is willing to increase the present negligible percentage of Community budget for Community affairs. Even supposing that there is an increase there, who is going to benefit? One of the reservations — so many of which have already been expressed here in the House about our membership over the past 18 years — is the way in which moneys have been given to a privileged elite, and how little the ordinary people have seen of European prosperity. It will not be much good to this country if the transfers come in far greater quantities if they are not spread around evenly.

All that reminds us that the people who talk about loss of sovereignty and so on are apparently unaware that we have already lost sovereignty in the whole economic area, not only in the agricultural and fishing areas, as Senator Raftery pointed out, but on the larger field of the GATT negotiations where huge decisions are being taken in our name. That is already an abdication of sovereignty. The loss of sovereignty applies to economics as well as politics and, of course, economics is politics.

My major concern would be with the larger field of political union and with the area of common foreign and security [1387] policy. It is not yet clear to me what the distinction is between security and defence, though it is becoming clearer. Common foreign policy strikes me as extremely problematic. I am not clear what decisions will be arrived at by majority voting and what decisions by consensus voting. What are we to make of the idea of a common foreign policy when we hear French and British politicians affirming that as far as they are concerned they are going to retain control over what they regard as the most important part of their foreign policy.

I quote from the Christian Science Monitor of last week in which the incoming British Ambassador to the United States gave an interview when he said among other things “We are not, frankly, prepared to surrender control over core aspects of our foreign policy”. In The Irish Times of Friday, 29 November, there is a report of a debate in the French National Assembly in which the Foreign Affairs Minister, M. Roland Dumas, assured the House — and this is very important — particularly de Gaullists in the National Assembly who were afraid perhaps of loss of French prestige and power in a common foreign policy, that France would not be “dispossessed of its right either to make peace or war, nor of its right of veto at the United Nations, nor of its nuclear weapons” Where does that leave a common foreign policy if France and Britain are prepared to hang on to the absolute core elements of their greatness, as they see it, in international affairs?

Neither of them is prepared to submit in any way their role on the Security Council of the United Nations to the monitoring of their European partners. I have the greatest doubts about the whole idea of a common foreign policy and how far we would be prepared to go along with it. Does France, for example, still propose to behave in a characteristically arrogant manner on nuclear testing in the South Pacific? It has alienated the peoples of that whole area. Are we by dint of participation in a common foreign [1388] policy supposed to endorse that kind of behaviour?

As regards a common security policy, we are all for a Europe where there is proper communal policing and a common way of dealing with crime, which these days is so often an international business. We are all, I hope, in favour of dealing with non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and so on. How does a common security policy — and I am again pointing out the contradiction here — square with the fact that two of our partners are nuclear powers? How can we talk of disarmament when we have to accept the ongoing possession of nuclear weapons by France and Britain and by the Western European Union? How can we talk of disarmament when our partners are engaged in the highly lucrative and deadly business of arms sales throughout the world and particularly throughout the poorer countries? How can we arrive at a common security policy there?

As regards defence, we are assured — and we were assured yesterday by the Minister — that there is no question of a common defence policy on the Maastricht agenda next week. We know nonetheless that there is a momentum there and that the groundwork will be laid for a common defence policy by the middle of the decade. We may not get a chance to decide on that through a second referendum. There is a possibility that we will move towards a common defence policy if we approve the first European union and that there will not be a second chance to pass judgment on a defence policy. I have grave doubts about all that. who is going to attack Europe anyway? I admit that in the dangerous state of eastern Europe at the moment there is the possibility of some kind of a military coup there, always with the threat of nuclear weapons in the background but, by and large, I think it is very unlikely that people are going to attack the European Community.

I am all against the idea of a European force, a European super power, a European super army. We do not feel that common sense of identity with Europe that we are going to die for one of our [1389] European partners. There was an old joke in the pub where the one fellow says, “Would you die for Ireland?” and the other fellow says. “I would die for Portugal if the money was right”. That consideration may well soon come to pass but I do not think the people of Ireland are going to die for Portugal or France.

I am worried about phrases like “a strike force out of areas” and about Jacques Delors' reference to the wars of the future as being “resource wars”. This country should have nothing to do with any European so-called defence policy which would involve defending its high standard of living, for example, against the lesser breeds — that is not the way this country developed, it is not where our instinctive sympathies lie. I want to see this country retaining its distinctive peace-keeping role in the United Nations. I hope that is going to be reconcilable with whatever develops after Maastricht.

I warn those Euro-warriors who now speak so contemptuously of our neutrality that, although it is an inadequate and confusing word, neutrality does not simply mean an isolationist abstention from the world. It means a certain way of looking at the world, a certain Irish way. Maybe people would not be able to define it, but they know it means a rapport with the poorer countries. People will want to retain that. Those who look forward to a facile victory at the referendum with Opposition support for the Government, would do well to be warned about people's very deep concerns in these matters.

We may well be faced in that referendum, ultimately, with the choice between one extreme and the other. I am inclined to the view, although I have not my mind made up, that there is only one choice and that you have to be fully involved or you pull out. The Irish Sovereignty Movement, people like Anthony Coughlan and Raymond Crotty, whom I greatly respect in many ways, are now on to an insupportable kind of compromise that they will agree to stay in the EC but they do not want any Euro-federalism. It has to be one [1390] way or the other. I was most interested to hear Senator Raftery even talking about the possibility of pulling out. It shows the measure of the man's disenchantment, and he is an expert in all of these areas. That, perhaps, was the most significant point made in the debate so far.

I have never been an enthusiastic European, but I wish our Government well in Maastricht. I hope they will uphold the national interest and I make no apology for saying that. As a historian, I know that the continental European powers were never really interested in this country except when it suited them strategically. It is up to us, especially as we are a small and poor country, to put our best foot forward at Maastricht. The people will be watching.

Mrs. Honan: I welcome this debate. We are at long last talking about Maastricht and the summit. It will affect our lives and, more importantly, the lives of our children and their children long after we are gone. I would like to thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, for his long and excellent speech yesterday afternoon.

I have supported having this debate for a long time because I hold strong views that the EC seems to be an elite club where information is not available even to elected people like us, not to mention people outside. We have our MEPs, and we have Ministers and leaders. The information is all kept in there, and the ordinary people like myself do not seem to be able to get it. Therefore, what chance have our people, who are going to be asked to vote later, of knowing what it is all about? Remember, it is the people of this nation who will vote in the referendum at a later date.

I have followed European affairs for a long time and more closely than people think. I watched a short film recently on a nation that may join in the years ahead. I noted how far removed from the Europe of today were those people who talked on that programme. It reminded me of how removed we were and how little we knew about the real Europe and [1391] how it has affected our people. There are directives every other week being cleared by the Houses of the Oireachtas. Around the world there are many examples of international organisations which bring together nations wishing to co-operate with each other.

The goal of the European Community was, I believe, to create a genuine European union. Yesterday in his address the Minister made reference to representation on the Commission. There are some large nations at the moment with two representatives. We have one. In his address he stated that perhaps in future times there may be only one commissioner for each nation, and that might be more fair.

What exactly is on the agenda at Maastricht? I understand there is health, education, energy, the environment and agriculture. Quite clearly, defence, political, economic and monetary union are also on the programme. Defence may not be an issue in 1992; it is some years down the road we are being told. Senator Murphy has made reference to the fact that we may not have another referendum. It is we who are serving today who will give the clear signal about the Europe we are asking the people to vote on in the referendum.

We must make every effort to show that the Structural Funds we get are used responsibly and with proper management. Can they make a substantial contribution to employment? I regret that some elected persons still continue to state we are out there with a begging bowl. I have put this on record before, and I do it again. They forget, it seems, the extraordinary contribution this nation has made and the part played by its people who have gone to Europe. I never see ourselves as being beggars in Europe and I resent that word being used.

Our job, therefore, is to convince the richer member states that Structural Fund expenditure can be valuable and can have the results intended by the EC. I know we have got five times more than the cost to us but never should we think [1392] they give that kind of money merely out of love for us. It is important to Europe that Ireland is in the EC. We are an independent State. Even though we only have the 15 MEPs, I suppose it is as much representation as we could expect having regard to our size.

I can never understand the dreadful rural decline that has persisted even with the money that has come from the EC. Something certainly is wrong. I have already referred to the directives. I must refer to the major problem of unemployment. When we were all campaigning and asking our people to vote to join the EC, we never foresaw that in later years we would have unemployment to the extent we have today.

I now come to defence and neutrality. I do not think it will surprise anybody that I should make reference to that. The address of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins shows that it is really “make up your mind time”. We are being told that it is down the road but we have to be honest with ourselves and if there is to be a defence policy so be it, let us take it on. There is an obligation on every sovereign state to defend itself against outside aggression or against subversives from within. Apart from our United Nations Commitments, this has always been our policy as far as our defence forces are concerned. In spite of many attempts to pressurise us to join NATO, we stood our ground, even when we found ourselves outnumbered by fellow members in the European Community who were already part of a military alliance. We were acting strictly according to our rights. However, we are now, I understand, faced with something entirely different.

I have to refer here to NATO. Any one who claims that ten years from now it will be the same as it is today should take a look at himself or herself. I suppose America, while wanting to remain a super power, wants to unload some of the burden it has borne in Europe for 40 years now. The last two years have been full of political surprises and it seems unlikely that things will settle down to a stable pattern in the foreseeable future. [1393] The threat that NATO was set up to counter no longer exists but no western politician who can be taken seriously would infer that the Atlantic alliances no longer needs it. I believe NATO will continue to exist, but maybe in a different form. I understand that Chancellor Kohl wants monetary union and a political confederation of states with a limitation on national rights. Britain rejects European armed forces and says that NATO should not be shaken at any time. It seems to be an alliance of like-minded states combining together against a perceived enemy.

The price of ensuring more direct United Nations control over the enforcement of universal collective security might well include a more far reaching commitment than the limited voluntary contribution to the UN peace-keeping force that this nation has made for more than 30 years. We would be foolish to ignore the financial cost of alliance membership particularly against the background of the limited resources Ireland traditionally devoted to our national defence. We have an idea of the cost, and if we participate in collective defence in the years ahead, who pays? I do not understand why, as a neutral state, we did not put to the EC our deeply held conviction. Even if it was to be thrown out, our policy on neutrality should have been stated somewhere.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs speaking on neutrality on 14 February 1991 said:

Our policy on neutrality has meant that Ireland does not belong to any military alliance. We have, however, as a small country, sought to play a full and responsible part in international life to promote peace, security and the rule of law within the international community. We have, for example, a long record of commitment to the promotion of disarmament and arms control. We have contributed for many year to United Nations peace-keeping operations and we have participated activity in the work of the conference [1394] on security and co-operation in Europe.

In his address yesterday the Minister also referred to his position in that context. Irish military neutrality has never been anything more than a policy. It is important to put this on record. I do not think neutrality, even in the time of the late Eamonn de Valera was ever written in stone but the strong feeling of the people of this nation, where neutrality is concerned should not be brushed aside.

In the event of applications from neutral Austria and Sweden, will our neutrality be a more positive rather than a negative factor? How many neutral nations can effectively be accommodated in the evolving Community? I saw with great joy the walls of Germany come down. We are in Europe and we are trying to create more unity there, yet the northern part of this country is still divided and we do not seem to be able to do anything about the killings there. It is with deep sadness that we talk about peace and unity, and cohesion between nations in Europe when here, in the heart of our own nation, we are divided.

I appeal to the Taoiseach and to all involved to try to recommence those talks as quickly as possible. I was saddened that he did not get an absolute commitment from Prime Minister, John Major, yesterday that those talks would commence in the New Year. We all felt something good would happen when the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Justice and the Taoiseach were talking because we all know that if there is an upset in one's own home or a dispute with the trade unions something better might come out of it as long as people are talking. I believe that the course we have agreed is the best way of taking the Community through the rough times ahead.

I welcome this debate, and there is a lot more I could have said. I noted Senator Raftery's comments at the end of his address. It is important that we remember that Senator Raftery served as an MEP. He nearly said that if we had an alternative to still remaining in there, he could see himself thinking about it. My [1395] sincere hope is that we give our people the best advice when voting in the referendum in 1992 and that the stand we adopt will be the right one and if people are worried — and some of us are — that somebody will talk to us about them.

I want to make quite clear my commitment as a European. I have no trouble being a committed European but I am entitled to want to retain what I see as the sacredness of what is Irish and if that refers to flags or anything else, I am entitled, even in the European context, to voice it. I see no alternative but to be a member state of the EC. When it comes to voting in the referendum I hope the stand we take will the correct one and that we will give our people the best advice.

Mr. McDonald: I am very happy to have the opportunity to contribute to this debate on the outcome of next week's summit. The one thing we should remember is that the whole proposal for greater economic and political union in Europe is not new. If we re-read the original Treaty of Rome and the Treaty of Luxembourg, we will see that the founding fathers of the Community — de Gasperi, Schumann and Adenauer — envisaged a closer union in perhaps all aspects, including those that the heads of state and Government in Maastricht will address.

I believe this is the natural progression of the evolution of the European Community as we know it. It is extroardinary that many people here will take the lead from the latest headline in the daily papers or from some television programme and appear to be oblivious of the progress and of the structural development of our country over the last number of years. Only yesterday somebody said to me that when the Single European Act was agreed we were supposed to get £3 billion in aid and they asked where that had gone. People can apparently drive around the country and not notice the huge infrastructural development. Unfortunately from my point of view, most of that infrastructural [1396] development has gone into the great Dublin area where you can see the new and enhanced road infrastructure. Of course, that is necessary for the lifelines and the trade of the entire country. But how can people not fail to notice those infrastructural developments, which, I believe, would not be possible in this country were it not for grant aid from the European Community?

I agree with Senator Honan when she said that we should not look at Europe from a begging bowl mentality. I believe that this nation, even though it is relatively small from a European point of view, has a contribution to make that goes right across the entire agenda of the Maastricht meeting next week. In our own evolution as a nation we have learned many expensive lessons that we should be able to pass on.

I believe that there should be a greater political union. I believe that in this century the greatest curse that has befallen the population in this country is nationalism. We see the horrendous situation between the Serbs and the Croats in Yugoslavia at present time. This is nationalism allowed to deteriorate and wantonly to inflict hardship, death and suffering on innocent populations. It was to avoid such a scenario after the Second World War in Europe that de Gasperi, Schumann and Adenauer came together and led the movement to ensure that it would not happen again. Since the early fifties the Community has very successfully achieved that goal. Therefore, I hope we will be able to have an agreement on foreign and security policy and that the leaders will have an understanding and a commitment to greater democracy in the decision making process.

We need a coherent and balanced economic policy. I believe also that a social dimension is necessary to improve the quality and effectiveness of co-operation, even in matters of law enforcement, across the Community. That, of course, directly relates to the protection of the individual, irrespective of whatever state one finds oneself in.

I hope the heads of state will progress [1397] and finalise negotiations next week because a united Europe must be more than the Common Market as we have accepted it for the last 20 years. We should take a positive view of a single currency. We must be firm on the principle of a strong and united Europe, committed to policies which give confidence and hope to those who find themselves unemployed, which gives equal opportunities to the large number of migrants right across the Community. In saying that, we must remember that Irish people constitute the second largest ethnic group of migrants in this Community. We seem too easily to forget that, These are areas of extreme importance. This meeting next week can only bring benefits in a very real way. There is great apprehension and we are told that no mention of the federal goal is to be made next week. However, I hope that the political will is present to overcome these problems.

I very much welcome the idea of a single currency. If there are objections to it on the narrow grounds of nationality, we should look at the Benelux situation, where the Belgian franc and the Luxembourg franc have equal status and equal worth. The only difference is that on the Belgium currency we see the King of the Belgians and on the Luxembourg currenty the Grand Duke. I see no reason why there could not be a common ECU symbol on a common currency and let each of the 12 states put what they like on the other side. The important thing is that there should be an effort made to distribute equally the benefit of the joint efforts and co-operation of all the states. No matter what we call it, the important thing is that the individual citizen in each of the 12 states should feel very much a part of it and their rights should not only be guaranteed but respected. We need a federal and integrated Europe to guarantee our future and I hope that we accept this as the challenge of the nineties.

Perhaps the entire debate next week has been clouded in this country by difficulties, apprehensions and fears, especially those on the farming community who were presented earlier this [1398] year with the new proposals of Commissioner MacSharry. These do not herald a bright economic future for many forms of husbandry right across the agricultural economy. I hope that is the future we will be able to see the benefits of working in closer co-operation, peace and harmony. If we were to shelter under the European flag and perhaps leave the national dimension on a lower plane, we might be able to avoid many of the unsavoury practices and atrocities that are committed in the name of Ireland.

I hope the representatives at the Summit will work hard to find solutions to the growing democratic deficit in the Community. This can only be achieved by strengthening the controls and the powers of the European Parliament. From my experience there over eight or nine years, I believe the Parliament should be endowed with a greater role, with perhaps closer economic control or input into the systems of the Commission. One of the big clashes for greater control is between the Council and the Commission. The Commission see themselves as a Government of a federal Europe — it is like taking a bone from a bitch — and the Council of Ministers will not be too anxious to allow that to happen. There has to be room for compromise and we should go for efficiency.

One of the problems with the Commission is that it is very aloof and in the control structure set out in the Treaty of Rome it was not possible to remove a commissioner without taking all of them out. If we can improve that situation and if we are thinking of the Commission as a Government of a federal Europe, there will have to be better control. At least the Council of Ministers can be picked off from any one of 12 angles. They are accountable and they are responsible. If we could transfer that answerability to the Commission many people might be more at ease in allowing it to call more of the shots. While membership of the Commission comes from each of the 12 member states, they tend to become separate. It is important that the entire Community should be held closely together. [1399] The draft political union Treaty tries to bring together in a single entity all the powers which the member states plan to exercise or jointly in a political and economic matters. I do not see that the proposed union is given a legal dimension in international law. This raises serious difficulties about the union's representations and coherence between a foreign policy as such and external and economic relations, development and co-operation. It is my belief that, irrespective of the outcome of next week's Summit, the road to European political union is irreversible. It is in the interests of all that all people of Europe must be able to work together for the common good.

Mr. Fallon: It is probably true that quite a small percentage of the Irish people fully understand what the Maastricht Summit is about. There is a great lack of understanding of the European issues as they affect Ireland. This is arguably the most significant and far reaching conference of European leaders since the foundation of the European Communities more than 30 years ago. The decisions to be taken at Maastricht will have far reaching consequences for the welfare and the prosperity of the Irish people.

Since we joined the EC Ireland has been an active participant in every aspect of the Community's development. We have gained considerably from our membership and our economy has developed and begun to realise its full potential. The way forward is for full economic and monetary union, or greater economic growth, social progress and increased employment provided, of course, that the essential concern which we have as a peripheral region can be accommodated within the frame work of the new Europe.

We have been enriched, as all EC countries have been enriched, by our membership of the EC. What is decided at Maastricht will determine the future of the Community and give shape and structure to the concept of European union. For Ireland it will determine how well [1400] the concerns of our people are met and our interests advanced. The issues at stake are clearly crucial for us and for our EC partners. Other European countries, await the decisions at Maastricht. Many of them are eager to join the union. The outcome at Maastricht will have an impact well beyond the Community itself, and it may well have important consequences for the future of the European continent as a whole.

In this debate we must set out the main issues for decision in the draft treaty: first, the proposals for a common foreign security policy, second, the examination of the institutions — the Commission, the Council of the Ministers and the Parliament, third, the proposals to give additional responsibilities in areas of health, social policy, education, environment and research, fourth, economic and monetary union and fifth, the promotion of greater economic and social cohesion so that the increased prosperity which the union will bring will be shared equitably between the member states.

In debate on this subject in the other House, two major issues dominated — first, military neutrality, and second, the quest for a cohesion policy to narrow the gap between the Communities richer and poorer states and regions.

The Taoiseach hinted that the new relationship between the EC and the Western European Union may be agreed at the Summit. We and the Minister for Foreign Affairs were at pains to say that there was no question of joining a military alliance, of having any military obligations imposed upon Ireland. The Western European Union remains an inappropriate vehicle for any EC defence policy because its links to NATO cast a shadow over the new Europe.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I read correctly what he said, indicated that the link to the Western European Union defence pact would be considered at another conference.

The Community will soon have to tackle the problems that will arise after the creation of the Single Market and the removal of the frontier controls by [1401] developing some form of common security policy to fight international terrorism, drug smuggling and organised crime. This should not be confused with a common defence structure, such as NATO, to which I would be strongly opposed.

On cohesion, the Government have adopted what I would regard as a cautious and a rather defensive position, perhaps in anticipation that there will be few concrete commitments of aid given until after the next EC budget allocation and negotiations. It is to be hoped that this does not send a signal to the richer states, who will not yield easily on this matter.

Obviously a great concern for our Government at the Maastricht talks is how to ensure that our clear commitment to European monetary and political union will be matched by a Community willingness to finance the high adjustment cost involved for this economy. We remain, unfortunately, one of the three poorest countries in the EC and we have real economic problems. At the moment we would fulfil some but not all of the proposed criteria which are set for economic and monetary union. Only four of the 12 member states would currently meet the entry requirement in full. Bearing in mind the 1997 deadline for the single currency and European Monetary Union, the most immediate challenge we face is the significant reduction of our budget deficit and the lowering of our public debt levels.

While monetary union will require a number of important key economic indicators, the State in order to qualify for EC assistance as now offered through the Structural Funds must raise its own spending to provide required matching finance. It follows that to achieve this makes it harder to cut borrowing and debt levels and to realise the convergence necessary for European Monetary Union entry. It is vitally important that at Maastricht the gap between the richer and the poorer countries is recognised and this will be best arrived at for Ireland by agreeing to increase the size and broaden the scope of the Structural Funds.

[1402] I mentioned the institutions and I would like to refer in particular to the role of the Parliament, which of course is elected democratically with the assistance of the Community. It is right that they should have a greater role in Community decisions. At the same time we do not wish to see the decision making procedures of the Community become slower and more difficult where the need is increasingly to make them more responsive and effective. The proposal envisages that the European Parliament will receive some significant new powers. It will acquire the formal right to set up committees of inquiry and to receive petitions from citizens of the Community. There will be wider use of the co-operation procedure for legislation established by the Single Act and for the first time the Parliament will be given a right to reject legislation in a number of areas. The new procedure will mean greater involvement of the Parliament in Community decisions, but there will also be a series of binding deadlines which will limit the scope for delay and ensure the processing of Community legislation as quickly as possible.

There is also a need to reinforce the links and improve the dialogue between the European Parliament and the national parliaments of member states. Some orientation may emerge on this matter. There is need also for a balance here. I hope that as a result of whatever increased powers the European Parliament may receive the powers of either House of the Oireachtas would not decrease. With or without new powers for the Parliament, I support the case for closer links with national assemblies. It is surely indisputable that home parliamentarians need a strong European committee and that MEPs should have a right of audience there. This is referred to in the Programme for Government.

After Maastricht, it is agreed that the Taoiseach will report to the Dáil on this very important meeting. Over the next year it will be necessary for the Parliament of each member state to ratify the agreement that is reached if it is to come into effect by 1 January 1993. In [1403] the case of Ireland, because of the implications for our Constitution of the changes that are now proposed, it will be necessary to go further and seek the approval of the electorate in a referendum to be held some time next year. I am worried about this. Post Maastricht might present problems.

I would warn against complacency concerning the referendum to ratify the terms of the new Treaty. Many sectors of the electorate might use it to register a protest vote against the political establishment, whether because of the unemployment situation or out of concern for military neutrality. Maybe the farming community might protest against the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy reform and GATT and there could also be fears that Community law would override Irish law on issues like contraception, divorce and so on. It may not be easy for politicians to dismiss such fears if sufficient political attention is not fully devoted to them.

For Ireland the 1990 growth rate of 7 per cent, which is the highest in over 20 years, is an indication of some of the benefits that can flow from the framework of stability and low inflation provided by the EMS as a precursor of full monetary union. While the high rate will not be repeated this year — I hope I am wrong — it serves as a reminder of past achievement and as an inspiration for future effort, not least for what could again be achieved if the right decisions are taken at the Maastricht Summit. Agreement at Maastricht will lead to a more intense period of national debate. This I welcome. I wish Ireland and Europe well in the talks at Maastricht.

Mr. B. Ryan: I am delighted to hear Senator Fallon express reservations about the outcome of the referendum. He will find me on a different side from himself. The outcome of that referendum, provided it is dealt with fairly and balanced on both sides, is not predictable. In fact, I predict that the outcome might be quite different from what the establishment want. [1404] Rarely does one need a lot of time in this House to discuss an issue but this is one of the few issues where we probably could have done with more time. It is a very complicated issue. There is much technical argument that deserves to be gone through. May I start by referring to one of my favourite quotations from Harold MacMillan, where he said he had found in his political career that any time the establishment was ever unanimous about anything it was almost invariably wrong? We are in that position now. One is treated as being almost intellectually subnormal if one questions the process.

The first assumption is that we did well out of membership of the EC. Let me just throw a few figures out and invite those who take that for granted to explain how they fit with their certitude about our position. In 1973 Ireland had an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent. In 1992 it will be close to 20 per cent. In the period between 1960 and 1973 our GNP grew at an annual rate of 4.8 per cent. Between 1973 and 1979 that growth rate dropped, according to OECD to around 2.2 per cent and between 1979 and 1986 the growth rate was 0.2 per cent on average. I do not want to play around with figures, but that is hardly a record of spectacular success. That is a decline in growth. Before we joined the EC we were actually converging somewhat towards the richer countries of Europe. We were growing very fast. We have not converged since then.

The usual argument used to suggest that we have had benefits has to do with agriculture. Real agricultural income increased by 0.4 of 1 per cent between 1971 and 1985. The only reason farmers became richer was because there were fewer of them and the static income in real terms was distributed among a smaller number of them. There was no great agricultural boom. The best it did was stabilise agricultural incomes. It also resulted in an appalling maldistribution of farm income, where 60 per cent of our farmers — that is, 100,000 of them — share 10 per cent of farm income between them and the other 40 per cent made a killing out of the 90 per cent. That, in my [1405] view, is not a success. It is a success for 60,000 farmers at the expense of the other 100,000.

What is worth looking at, by contrast with our dismal unemployment and emigration figures, is the performance of the small economies that stayed outside the EC. Sweden had an unemployment rate of 2 per cent in 1973; it is now 3 per cent. Austria had a rate of 1 per cent in 1973 and it is about 4 per cent today. Norwegian unemployment was 1.6 per cent in 1973; it is now about 3.5 per cent. The one Nordic country that entered the EC, Denmark, had 1 per cent unemployment in 1973; it is now about 9 per cent. Will somebody explain how it is that the EC seems to create unemployment if it is such a wonderful success? Take Ireland out of it, if you wish, but explain why Denmark in this wonderful successful Community has managed to increase its unemployment by a multiple of eight in the period of membership. There is a problem.

Looking from the dubious benefits of the past towards the assumed benefits of the future, problems arise. I wish Members would read — perhaps many of them have — either the NESC report on Ireland in the EC or the remarkably helpful publication on European Monetary Union produced by the Institute of European Affairs. Both documents make clear that a single market will undoubtedly result in a growth in trade. You do not have to be a wonderful economist to realise that, if you reduce the costs associated with trade, then the volume of capital available to facilitate or pay for trade increases, and therefore the volume of trade will increase. I know economists make this more complicated than it sounds. The old fashion assumption of the theory of trade was that if you increase the volume of trade in an area of total free trade there was an equilibrium involved which would distribute those gains evenly throughout the unit of free trade. That is the theory on which the Cecchini report is based. It is a theory which is demolished in the NESC report on Ireland in the EC and which is also demolished in the other booklet.

[1406] There is no evidence that a single market will produce evenly distributed gains; it is quite the opposite. The evidence is that you will have substantial gains to trade, which will be distributed towards those economies which have built-in economies of scale. I am not distorting the report. European Monetary Union is a further step along the road to the Single Market and does not guarantee us anything. It is not sufficient to say that there are advantages for us. The inherent structural situation about a large free trade area is that it will tend to reinforce divergence. It will not tend to push us in the direction of convergence. That is the basic thesis in the NESC report.

Under European Monetary Union we will have a single currency ultimately and we will be committed to that currency.

Economic policy will be co-ordinated. We are walking into economic union, but nobody can tell you what it is because there are diverging views about what its necessary for economic union. On one hand people believe that simply having a single currency will create through market forces an economic union. Other people believe that it needs centralised supervision of the public expenditure, taxation and deficit policies of various regional Governments. Nobody knows. Assuming that we are moving in the direction of centralised control, it means that the capacity of an Irish Government to do the sort of things that would improve our competitive position on the margins will be severely reduced in the interests of ensuring that there is a free market. That does not do anything that would enable us to make up for the inherent structural inequalities that free trade creates. Not until 20 years ago did economists acknowledge that these problems existed even though there was plenty of evidence. Now we have documented and coherently argued in the NESC report that free trade does not necessarily mean equal growth for all within the region.

The problem about cohesion is that nobody can produce a single scrap of evidence of an economic and monetary [1407] union which succeeded in creating cohesion. I quote from this document, Economic and Monetary Union, Studies in European Union No. 2 produced by the Institute of European Affairs. On page 131 it states that the study makes clear that failure to achieve cohesion is not just because there are not enough Structural Funds but because “knowledge of the nature and processes of regional development has not reached the stage where plans capable of really reversing regional decline or initiating regional growth are available to Member States or the Commission.” What they are actually saying is that we do not know how to achieve cohesion. In the name of heaven, if we do not know how to achieve cohesion how can we look for it? What we are looking for is a gesture of support which would enable an increasingly uneasy public opinion in this country to be convinced that there are goodies in the offing, but nobody knows what level of expenditure, would achieve cohesion within a reasonable timescale.

We are marching from a less than impressive historical performance to a future aspiration based on a policy objective, the workings of which nobody can prove. I call that daft. We would want to be honest with ourselves. There is an interesting arguments about whether the process is irreversible, but we are now in the daft position of looking for something that we do not know how to achieve and that nobody can even offer us guidance about how to achieve it. Those who claim to have some insight believe we need political union in order to bring about some sort of fiscal union which will provide the resources to be redistributed to enable us to catch up on the rest.

It is ironic that Fine Gael, the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil, who all believe in principle that public expenditure should be reduced and that high taxes are bad, are now saying that the solution to our problems is for Europe to raise taxes to pay us to catch up — in other words, Europe as a unit should practise directly opposite policies to those we claim are good for us. I can [1408] only describe that as daft as well. The Germans and the French are supposed to raise their taxes so that we can catch up with them, or else they are supposed to run budget deficits so that we can catch up with them. The OECD would go berserk at such a suggestion. We are telling countries that have been told by the OECD to reduce public expenditure that they must spend more money.

It would be invidious and incorrect to leave the issue without discussion of defence. The word “defence” is obscene. It is not defence we are talking about; we are talking about the development of a European army capable of using nuclear weapons. That is the logic of it. Does anyone suggest that France and Germany will give up their nuclear weapons? Not at all. The word “defence” with all its connotations is in the Treaty and will remain there. The timescale and the process may be argued but we are on the way to creating a European army, a multilateral force capable of acting in European interests out of area. They are part of the phraseology now — “multilateral force capable of acting out of area in Europe's interest”.

What are Europe's interests? They are what Jacques Delors called the interests, the wars of resources of the next century, the oil, the natural resources that are scarce in the world and that we will have to defend in our interest. That is what the European army will have to do, just as many wanted to do in the slaughter in the Gulf not so long ago — defend our resources and anybody who does not think that is what it was about should read Noam Chomsky's book Deterring Democracy in which he shows the official documentations which gets away from the myths of freedom, democracy and so on. That is what we are about and I am unhappy with it. I can see why Europe, as it draws closer together, needs an arrangement in relation to terrorism, drug trafficking, and so on and I have no problem with that.

The Treaty which set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is a looser arrangement than the Western European Union, states that members [1409] shall come to each other's defence in the fashion that is deemed to be appropriate by each individual member. That is an escape clause which is not available to members of the Western European Union. One could argue quite legitimately that we should be prepared in principle to look after the interests of the Community as a Community and to deter the use of force against the boundaries of the Community, but that is not what the Europhiles in front of me want.

I wish Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats would tell the truth about what they mean by defence. The Progressive Democrat MEP said he wants a European defence arrangement which does not involve nuclear weapons and conscription. That is dishonest. If we are involved in a union which has a defence arrangement, it will involve nuclear weapons because since both the Western European Union and NATO believe in the concept of a nuclear deterrent, we are stuck with that. The question then is whether they will bother to introduce conscription, I do not think they will, but it is a minor issue.

There will be another day to debate the alternatives to the Treaty. The part of the Minister's speech which I found profoundly offensive dealt with overseas development aid. Coming from the political head of the Department which has taken overseas development aid expenditure apart, it was the most profound act of cynical hypocrisy I have seen in my time in this House. I invite the Minister of State who knows what happened to overseas development aid, to defend what his senior Minister said.

Mr. E. Ryan: As we advance towards economic, monetary and political union within the European Community it is crucial what we spell out the benefits which will undoubtedly accrue to Ireland as a direct result of increased co-operation and integration. When Ireland acceded to membership of the European Community in 1975 and when the Single European Act was carried in 1988, Ireland committed itself as a full subscriber to the European ideal. This is not to say [1410] that these signals of our commitment to a cohesive Europe in every sense of the word in any way superseded the ideals which are enshrined in our national ethos.

There appears to be apprehension abroad that, by virtue of our move towards political and monetary union, in some way our national sovereignty and all that embraces, will be diluted or eroded. There appears to be an attitude among us that we want to have our cake and eat it. To carry the metaphor even further, there seems to be a pattern of á la carte, in other words, we will be full members but we will only accept what we want. It could be argued that in some instances we consider ourselves to be pavilion members of the European Community. We will enjoy all the privileges and benefits but we will discard the responsibilities of full membership. We simply cannot afford to adopt a pavilion or isolationist mentality but rather we must commit ourselves to all that membership entails. I am not for a moment suggesting that we give a blanket commitment. Of course, we have to scrutinise all the implications extremely carefully and we must be aware of the down-side but we have to take the long view and consider the entirety of the impact which monetary and political union will have for Ireland as a nation.

In reconciling the positives and negatives, on balance, Ireland can only stand to gain from such momentous initiatives within the European Community. If we do not move in tandem we will be left behind and, frankly, in monetary terms we cannot afford to put ourselves in that situation. The repercussions would be overwhelming and Ireland could never aspire to the economic prosperity which we all crave.

Looking at our membership in crude financial terms we are top of the league when it comes to beneficial interest. The ratio is 5:1 for every £1 we commit to Europe we receive £5 in return. We have enjoyed Structural Funding over a sustained period but let us not become blasé. We all know that there are significant obligations attached to membership of [1411] the European Community which have to be discharged in a responsible fashion if we are to continue to enjoy the benefits. However, but for EC membership, we would not now be living in a mature, modern economy with all the infrastructural support mechanisms which allow us to compete as equals with the rest of the Community and the rest of the world. Let us face it, European Community membership has brought us forward; we are not an insignificant rock off the west coast of Europe struggling to compete with the more sophisticated and advanced economies of the world. Membership of the Community has integrated us into a regime and opened our eyes and minds and it has given us a self-assurance and confidence to hold our own with the best of them.

Ireland is too small to hope to sustain itself independently. We have to be brutally honest and recognise that membership of the European Community has matured us and presented us with opportunities and exciting challenges. It has reinforced our presence and increased our clout and stature on the world stage. If we wish to remain fully fledged members, it is in our own interest to ensure that the process of consolidation in Europe is to act as one of the guarantors of its stability. We have abandoned the begging bowl syndrome, going to Brussels with one arm as long as the other and returning with money. We have a price to pay for our membership but this is exceeded by the benefits that accrue, and will continue to be forthcoming.

The decisions to be taken at the Maastricht conference will be fundamental and far reaching. It is absolutely imperative that all the issues be adequately explored and explained, thus helping to dispel many of the myths which have been bandied about and allay any ill-founded anxieties which have arisen due to lack of open and frank debate. The debate gives us an opportunity to examine closely all the ramifications attendant on any decision taken at the coming Summit. Lest we drive ourselves into a national panic attack, we owe it to [1412] ourselves and to those we represent to understand fully the implications of all decisions taken. We must be totally convinced that full and balanced integration will create an environment conducive to increased economic growth, social progress and improved opportunities for sustained job creation.

The concept of eventual European union is not new but it is enshrined in the treaties to which we are a signatory. However, the Maastricht Summit will be the culmination of years of endeavour towards that objective and will put in place the concrete structure and form of that concept. Needless to say, the outcome will have enormous consequences for the whole continent of Europe while remaining faithful to the original aspiration of the European Community. I am absolutely convinced that Ireland must play its rightful role in seeking to put in place the proper framework which will enhance the integration of the EC and lend greater strength to its institutions while simultaneously seeking to protect the best interests of this country and its people.

In just two years Europe has experienced a most dramatic transition. The political map has been redrawn totally which presents the most profound challenges from the Community. A stable, united entity has the capacity and resilience to withstand such dramatic changes and indeed many countries outside the European Community look to it as a focus of stability in the newly emerging Europe. It is interesting to note that the application of Sweden and Austria for membership, two neutral EFTA countries, shows clearly that the debate is ongoing in other countries. They, too, acknowledge the anchorage which a fully united, integrated Europe represents.

Be assured the advantage of economic and monetary union are recognised from without as well as from within. The new Treaty to be negotiated will be of the utmost significance. Its saving features constitute (1) amendment of existing treaties which will improve the efficiency of the institutions to create new areas of community confidence to establish the [1413] structures of the European Monetary Union; (2) the formulation of procedures to establish a common foreign and security policy; and (3) to make provision to strengthen the co-operation between member states on issues, including immigration. The first three elements will operate consistent with the accepted Community procedures. The remaining two which feature aspects of the new Treaty will be of an intergovernmental nature at this point.

In the context of the rapid transformation of Europe over the past two years, it is now incumbent on the European Community to reflect on its capacity to conduct a concerted and effective external policy which will grapple completely with these immense alternatives in the political geography and landscape and to meet the challenges which have emerged. Under the series of new provisions which will be outlined in the union Treaty, the union and the member states will be obliged to formulate a clearly defined common, foreign and security policy for implementation. The underlying principle of this policy will be to protect common values, basic interests and independence of the union, strengthen the security of the union and its member states, preserve peace and promote international security consistent with the tenets of the UN Charter and the CSCE, promote international co-operation and develop and reinforce democracy and the rule of law with due regard for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

These elements constitute the cornerstone of the discussions and, ultimately, decisions in the union and I do not believe we can take issue with these points. However, the procedures which we will be adopting in addressing these points require considerable thought. The objections may be pursued in two ways. One of these envisages more systematic co-operation between member states. The other is the phased introduction of what is described as joint action. In the areas of foreign policy where members have a commonality of interest under the procedures of systematic co-operation, [1414] there would be an informing and consultative process in foreign and security policy issues and common positions will be defined in the Council. All decisions will be determined by consensus and it is a procedure we have broadly accepted in negotiations.

The second method of co-operation is that of joint action. This concept would be binding on member states in the positions they adopt and in the conduct of their activities. However, the precise scope of joint action and the decision-making mechanism remain to be settled. The approach we support is that of agreement on a list of areas and topics that would be considered for joint action. Over time new areas could be included unanimously following thorough consideration in the European Council and by Ministers for Foreign Affairs.

Regarding the decision-making process, I share the view that joint action on matters of policy should be by consensus. However, provided sufficient safeguards are put in place we may not rule out the possibility of majority voting for limited implementing matters. The Council should by unanimity define these matters in respect of decisions to be taken by majority. This procedure is pragmatic and would admit the principle of majority voting in the areas of foreign and security policy, while also allowing the practice to be introduced gradually for implementing measures. This approach also has the inherent necessary safeguards which are crucial to Ireland as it gains experience in this area.

Let me now turn to security policy where the proposition is that member states would agree in the union treaty to the formulation of a common defence policy at a later date. Perhaps in five or six years time it would be an issue to be considered in new inter-governmental conference negotiations. I believe that if the European Community is to develop it own defence arrangements for security, we should seriously consider participating in these arrangements, provided there is unanimous agreement between the member states. We should take a gradual and cautious approach [1415] to this matter by agreeing that security considerations in their broadest context be taken into account in any discussions under the co-operation provisions of the Treaty. Obviously this would entail joint action by the union in the defence area of the union acquiring its own military capability if the member states were to be permitted to appraise the political implications for their own security.

At this point we cannot ignore that argument which has been raised in relation to our neutrality and any possible dilution of our position. There is no inherent threat to our neutrality in this instance. Our long standing principle is clearly respected throughout Europe and in no way should our stance be perceived as debilitating in the context of full pollitical union. On the contrary, the neutral stance which Ireland represents has the distinct advantage of lending a moderating temperate dimension in Europe. Ireland's attitude has been, and will remain, one of taking preventative action. Nevertheless I do believe it may now be opportune to reappraise the whole concept of neutrality as we understand it. Is it a realistic stance or is it a nebulous aspirational notion which may be nothing more than a residual historical totem or posture?

Next, I would come to institutional reform. If we are to meet the inevitable challenges institutional reform in the European Community is a very basic issue which we must address while maintaining a sound degree of balance. The proposal before Maastricht can confer a formal right on the European Parliament to establish committees of inquiry and to receive petitions from the citizens of the European Community. It is envisaged that there will be a greater use of the co-operation procedure for legislation established under the Single European Act. In addition, the European Parliament, for the first time, will be vested with the right to reject legislation in a number of areas. This new procedure would represent a more significant role for the European [1416] Parliament while ensuring it is responsive, effective, and expeditious in the discharge of its functions.

The European Parliament has made its position abundantly clear on the question of political union. The argument is grounded in the notion of democratic legitimacy. This is based on the premise that, as national parliaments, through participation of the EC Treaties, the SEA and any future Treaty amendments, invest ever increasing powers on European Community institutions and consequently the European Parliament should be conferred with relevant powers. The concept is based on what is frequently described as the democratic deficit. Decisions which have an impact on all the citizens of the European Community are often taken in the absence of adequate scrutiny by the directly and democratically elected Parliament, a parliament which has a definite mandate and which is subject to public accountability at the end of the day. There appears to be a distinct lack of necessary checks and balances in the current system and national parliaments do not have the required legal competence to conduct examination of various issues determined at Community level. In my view the European Parliament must be given the necessary powers to assert its authority in seeking to address the democratic deficit.

There is a fear abroad, not a legitimate one in my view, that the power of national parliaments will in some way be diminished and will only have a rubber-stamping role if we are to confer increased power capacity on the European Parliament. This becomes a nonsense when we consider the whole concept of subsidiarity, one of the most essential elements in the forthcoming discussions.

The concept of subsidiarity seeks to retain at national or regional level all the confidence most appropriate to the level of government. Only the policy areas which have genuine and legitimate cross-Border implications would be ceded to the European Community or, in certain circumstances, by agreement if it is determined that the EC would have greater [1417] efficiency in implementing any such policy. The concept of subsidiarity must be supported vigorously in any debate on progress towards political union. I have no desire to see the emergence of a monolithic decision making forum, centrally located and lacking in national sensitivity.

This country has never been neglectful of its role as an active and diligent member of the European Community. We have always subscribed to the letter and spirit of the European ideal and we have demonstrated consistently our commitment to making that ideal and all that it entails work efficiently to the benefit of all member states. In the past two years the whole face of Europe has changed with unprecedented speed. Three years ago no one would have anticipated that Germany would now be unified. Indeed, Europe has experienced extraordinary changes and even that last bastion of communism, Albania, is reappraising its structures. The changes have been drastic as more and more move away from the centrally planned economy, giving way to the forces of the market driven economy. The changes have been momentous and the implications for the EC are enormous. Such changes have presented tremendous opportunities and challenges for us Europeans. The European Community as a whole must now poise itself to avail of these opportunities to the full and in that regard the Community must assume all the discipline and maturity of a powerful and unified economy with a capacity and dynamism to seize the opportunities to grapple for other inevitable changes on the world stage.

We must regard a successful outcome of Maastricht as being pre-eminent. As prominent protagonists of the Single Market in the European Monetary Union we must commit ourselves to the fullest participation in this extremely important process. Let us meet those challenges with all the motivation and enthusiasm which we can muster. We cannot waste our 18 years of investment in the European ideal as first promoted by Monnet and Schumann.

[1418] Mr. Cosgrave: I welcome the Minister to the House. The debate before the House is one of the most important that has taken place, not that it represents any finality in itself, it is more by way of process and discussion. We should be using this debate to pose certain questions about how we see the development of Europe and how Ireland is going to play its part in that development towards the latter end of this century and into the next century. There are many questions that have to be asked, and should be asked, because what will take place next week in Maastricht will, hopefully, mark certain matters in certain areas and pave the way for the future in relation to the Treaty to be signed in 1993.

The reality is that 1992 has crept up on us but I do not think anyone has fully thought out where we are going and how Ireland will either benefit or be part of the Europe of the nineties and Europe in the next century. That is why it is important that we ask questions now and, hopefully, get answers if not today then when we are debating the Treaty which will necessarly have to take place in the run up to the referendum next year.

In the light of the changes in Eastern Europe it is important that we look at how Ireland is to benefit from changes which are to take place. It is also very important that we look at the whole question of the breaking down of borders and, in particular, how crime will be combated so that terrorists, drug barons and others cannot freely come here and bring further problems for this country. It is important that we get certain answers to how the Minister sees us responding in our role, how co-operation between police forces is maintained and bettered because, unfortunately, we have seen at times, particularly in relation to terrorist activities and attacks in Germany and other places, that obviously there has to be a greater commitment from some countries to the question of combating terrorism.

I would like to ask, and the Minister might reply at a later stage, about keeping drugs out of this country. This has become very big business. We saw recently how easily drugs can be taken in [1419] here through our ports. Obviously with the breaking down of borders, it will be that much easier for drugs to be brought into this country. It is something that should be looked at very carefully.

At times there is a certain amount of emotive discussion in relation to Ireland's role in defence and security matters. We have to be realistic. We have our traditional role to maintain as a neutral country but it is important that we play our part in relation to discussions on arms control, disarmament and particularly in our traditional peace-keeping role. Ireland has a tremendous record in this area and I would like to pay tribute to the members of our Defence Forces who have worked many years on peace-keeping missions. However, I wonder about the money that is still owing and moneys that are due to us in relation to our traditional peace-keeping role. It is important that we maintain our special position and that we be realistic about these matters and that people do not get on their high horse thinking that, suddenly, we are going to be part of this great massive new European army.

A number of questions have been asked about the development of the single currency and how and when that will develop. The Minister for Finance was quoted, in the last day or two, as saying that it would be in by about 1998 or 1999. I wonder has this been fully thought out because at times we have heard various purported experts speaking about this. I remember them telling us when we were decimalising our currency the great things that were meant to happen. We have seen the trading difficulties that have arisen from time to time because of the weakness of the punt relative to sterling vis-à-vis the mark. I wonder how far down the road has the question of one currency been sorted out. It sounds marvellous that in this great new developing Europe one currency will solve so many of our ills. I do not think it is as simple as that. What information can the Minister give us in relation to the development of a single European currency. A question will have to be [1420] asked about the development of Europe and how we conduct our own affairs here, particularly in relation to budgetary matters. At times we have had a very simple policy of spend now and pay back later and we have seen the difficulties that got us into. We have seen the difficulties we face at the moment in relation to the agreements reached, which it, appears now, were not thought out on the best advice at the time. It is exceedingly important that these matters are addressed and that there are checks made in relation to the whole area in which we conduct our budgetary policy and that there is some overseeing of how targets are set, and achieved and realised, but they have to be realistic targets.

Another item which I think is very important is how in relation to the new Europe we are going to create more jobs for all the people in the Community. The reality is that we all depend on each other in relation to this. There is no simple way that this country for instance can create the many extra jobs that are needed unless we benefit from our place in the market in the years ahead. This is a very important stage in the development of this country. We have seen the changes that have taken place in Eastern Europe. I suppose it is no harm for us to remember — we have seen the changes in certain countries and we have had certain representatives, not in this House but in the other House, and their links to them — that because democracy is an often abused formula. But when we see what had happened in Romania, the welcome breaking down of the barriers in Germany and the chaotic situation which had taken place in Russia, we should look after what we have here in this country and not take our democracy for granted and we should be aware of those individuals and parties who at times would seek to undermine this democracy.

This is a historic debate. What will happen this week will plough a furrow for this country and for Europe for the coming years and into the next century. It is important that many of the questions I have raised are asked and, hopefully, answered; and, if not answered next [1421] week, answered in the months ahead. I would hope there would be a further opportunity as a result of the decisions reached next week to discuss this matter in the New Year in relation to the new Treaty to be signed later and in relation to the referendum which will have to take place. I would hope that there can be a balanced debate in the weeks and months ahead that will ensure that the Irish people will benefit from the role they have played. They have benefited from EC membership. It has had its difficulties, its problems, but I think that we can follow on and benefit further. However, the reality is that, if we were not part of the Community over the last number of years, the problems in this country would be much worse. I think it is important that this debate be used as a stepping stone to further discussions in relation to how this country benefits in the years ahead.

I would like finally to say that I wish those representing this country every success next week, because so much depends on what happens there and so much depends on our getting it right there for Ireland and also for Europe in the years ahead.

Mr. Hussey: The meeting to be held in Maastricht is of vital importance to the European Community and to Ireland. Indeed the decisions taken there will determine the future of the Community and hopefully will clearly outline the concept of European union. For us here in Ireland it is vital that the concerns of our people are met and their interests advanced. As we all know, Europe as we knew it has undergone a dramatic change in the past two years. The policy of perestroika promoted by President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union has created a whirlwind which has blown out of existence the Communist states of Eastern Europe, ended the Cold War, demolished the Berlin Wall and in doing so succeeded in uniting East and West Germany, making the new state of Germany the most powerful in the European Community.

Those dramatic developments will [1422] have far reaching effects on the European Community. Suddenly, we find that those countries who for years have been controlled by the Communist system of government are in need of financial assistance; and, of course, their nearest neighbour in the European Community is expected to help. This process of change in Eastern Europe will have far reaching effects on the Community as a whole because we find that we are competing with them for markets. However, there will be the pluses as well as the minuses. We will have to exploit the new situation and I am quite sure that we will find a niche in that expanded market for our exports. Ireland is the most peripheral region in Europe and after the Channel Tunnel is opened in 1993 we will be the only Community member without a land link to mainland Europe. Ireland is one of the most open economies in Europe. Exports and imports of goods and services represent 134 per cent of GNP and we rely heavily on foreign trade for sustainable economic growth and employment creation.

Our island status means that trade with Community partners involves substantial intermodal transfers — for example, road-rail to ship-plane to road-rail. Since 80 per cent of trade and 40 per cent of visitors to Ireland travel by sea, the economy is heavily dependent on shipping. Air, on the other hand, is vitally important in a tourism context and for value low volume goods and other products where fast delivery times are essential. It is estimated that transport costs for Irish exporters to mainland Europe account for over 9 per cent of export trades value, approximately twice those incurred by Community countries trading with one another in mainland Europe. Additionally, about one-third of Irish roro trade chooses longer road journeys via Northern Ireland because of infrastructural and shipping capacity constraints on Irish shipping routes. So, if Ireland is to contribute to and benefit from the completion of the internal market, a comprehensive and integrated transport network is absolutely necessary from both a national and a Community [1423] perspective. This integrated framework must embrace not only roads and other land based transport infrastructure but the essential connecting links to the infrastructure of our Community trading partners as well.

It is obvious that there are cost disadvantages because of Ireland's peripheral location and Community financial support should be available to us to offset those disadvantages. We need EC funding for improvement in ring roads, rail and port infrastructures. Investment in access shipping and air services is required if we are to improve delivery time and cut trading costs. Those demands should be pressed forward at every opportunity if we are expected to compete successfully in a situation where we are disadvantaged because of our peripherality.

The other major issues are the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the GATT negotiations. Indeed, these negotiations are of critical importance for Ireland. We accept that it is necessary to reform the Common Agricultural Policy but it is important that the changes made are based on the principles of the Treaty and underpin agriculture, especially in regions like ours which are particularly dependent on agriculture.

The Commission proposals for cereals, beef and milk will have serious repercussions for Irish agriculture and will result in income losses for farmers and those income losses will be offset by payment of premia. In the case of beef, in order to quality for the premium it will be necessary to observe prescribed stocking rate criteria and the stocking rate prescribed of 1.4 livestock units per hectare is too restrictive and will certainly militate in particular against farmers in severely disadvantaged areas. We have suggested in this House and the farming bodies have suggested that a stocking rate of two livestock units per hectare would be acceptable and I am pleased to see the Agricultural Committee of the European Parliament have also recommended this [1424] stocking rate. I am hopeful it will be accepted by the Commission.

Our main aim must be to maintain the viability of the family farm because family farms are the backbone of Irish society and their status must be permanently safeguarded for the future. The proposals put forward do not provide those safeguards and I hope our Ministers will ensure that the necessary changes are made in order to safeguard our family farms. We have many problems in this country — high unemployment, emigration, our location on the periphery of the industrial populous centre and an underdeveloped infrastructure. We have every right to look to the instruments of Community policy for the kind of assistance they were designed to provide. We have always been good Europeans and have supported the idea of European union from the beginning. We are now in the process of exciting change.

The prospect of economic and monetary union and political union, plus the pressure for the enlargement of the Community has focused people's minds on the European stage. I listened with interest to the speech made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday and I am satisfied the Government have approached this most important conference in Maastricht in a very positive and constructive way. We can confidently rely on them to protect our national interest and to play their part in the shaping of the new Europe which will emerge from this conference. I wish the negotiators every success next week.

Sitting suspended at 1.5 p.m. and resumed at 1.30 p.m.

Mrs. Hederman: I am pleased to have this opportunity, late as it is in the day, to make a few comments about the Maastricht meeting. I want to be positive; I intend to be positive. I am pro-European and I would like to quote from my election leaflet to make that point. I said:

I am committed to the European ideal. As we approach 1992 with its many exciting possibilities it becomes [1425] more than ever important that the pride and potential of our local communities be fostered and harnessed.

In the Senate I will, therefore, advocate such modifications to the structures of Government as may be necessary that local communities and regions have a direct and effective voice in policy formation and implementation. I believe that centralisation must be counterbalanced by clear channels of communication with local Government and Vocational representatives. This will avoid the possible alienation, and consequent apathy, which could diminish the great ideal of European unity.

My remarks will be in that context. Although we are short of time I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying, as many other speakers have said, how pathetically late this debate is. The papers no doubt have been finalised. We are aware that what is decided next week on 9 and 10 December, at Maastricht, is unlikely to be amended. This shows once again the attitude of the Government to the Seanad.

We have 43 Members here who are elected and between all 60 of us, surely we would have one little pearl of wisdom to contribute to the debate. It is too late for that now. I see from the Minister's speech that we are to be used to help sell the idea of Maastricht to the electorate. I will do what I can, as I am sure every other Member of this Seanad who is in favour of the European idea will do. I hope that will succeed in the short time available in turning up the volume, so to speak, of this debate and that we will have a better turnout than we had in the last referendum. I am afraid it was a rather pathetic turnout and not a very big majority. However, I would not be overconfident. We will all need to work very hard if we are to ensure there is a good majority in favour of the referendum when it takes place.

I think it was Drapier in The Irish Times last Saturday who spoke about the unusual coming together there might be [1426] of the diehard Lefties, the anti-partitionists, family solidarity and SPUC. They might all be seen to unite against this referendum. I hope that, even if they try to use it to their advantage, they will not be successful. We may add to those groups a large number of people who do feel disaffected and who do feel we have done very poorly. We have 20 per cent unemployment. If many of the unemployed join that side of the vote, I am afraid the outcome will not be good. The Minister spoke about the problems we face — economic and social problems, the unacceptably high level of unemployment, emigration, the underdeveloped nature of our infrastructure and our peripheral location. We know from the NESC report that our performance since we went into Europe has not been anything to boast about. On page 144 it states:

Overall economic performance in the Community has not been strong relative to that of other member countries. While trends in employment compare well with those elsewhere in the Community, the experience on incomes, unemployment and emigration has been relatively weak.

On page 190, identifying most specifically some of these problems, it speaks about the Irish economy compared with the rest of the EC. Since 1973 major differences emerged — I will not go through them all — but some of them are the slower growth of income and consumption, a considerably worse than average increase in unemployment, much the highest rate of net migration and a much greater than average accumulation of public debt. This confirms what I said about our poor performance.

I would like to refer to another quotation — from a UN publication “The wasting of the British Economy” by S. Pollard: “We cannot avoid the conclusion that we have incomparably the worst record of any economy in northern Europe, except the British”. Professor Joe Lee says that we find ourselves at the wrong end of virtually every European table. He outlines the reasons he believes [1427] that to be the case as does Dr. Barrington who speaks about our bureaucratic centralism, our administrative sclerosis, gross overweight, uncontrolled proliferation and trivialised politics. I would like to dwell for a moment on some of these issues.

Our response to what is happening in Europe is what is germane to this discussion. Dr. Barrington says that Ireland is a badly governed country in terms of our overall effectiveness and our capacity for co-ordinated action, the quality of our levels of organisation and of everyday management. He believes bureaucratic centralism and its evils to be the root of the problem. We have seen in eastern Europe a resurgence of democratic determination by the people to take affairs into their own hands. This is what gives me a considerable ray of hope. We have much to learn from our democratic partners in western Europe and in the European Community. I am convinced that we must change from an intensely centralised, bureaucratised state to a far more democratic one.

Much has been said about cohesion and convergence. I do not, for one moment, underestimate the importance of these measures. Turning again to the NESC report, it mentions four important policies which must be put into operation if we are to be successful: structural policies, macro-economic co-ordination, budgetary or fiscal transfers, differential application of other Community policies, such as agricultural policy or internal market policy. It goes on to say very clearly:

One of the main reasons for this conclusion was the fact that the Structural Funds did not succeed, between 1975 and 1986, in narrowing the disparities between regional incomes. “...It seems necessary to conclude that Structural Funds, as currently constituted, will not be sufficient to create convergence.”

This does not arise only because of the size of the funds. Knowledge of the [1428] nature and processes of regional development is very important. The report continues:

Knowledge of the nature and processes of regional development has not yet reached the stage where plans capable of really reversing regional decline are available to member states or to the Commission.

It continues:

It follows from this that the objective of regional convergence, like other objectives, to be accepted as a Community priority must be advocated by argument of the highest quality and in the widest possible form. Ireland, both its Government and its people, must play a leading role in this debate.

I would say not only in this debate; we must have action on these changes in Ireland if we are to respond in a meaningful way to what Europe has to offer to us.

As a matter of urgency, we must make changes in our structures of Government. I find it interesting that the Minister spoke of the changes in the structure of Europe. He spoke of the need to make the institutions of the Community respond adequately to the new challenges which will arise. He also spoke of the sense of frustration which could result if a greater role is not given to the Parliament. What I would like to suggest to the Minister is that we might consider introducing some of those changes in Ireland.

One of the main reasons for Ireland's poor performance clearly is its inability to respond to the challenges of 1992 and all that entails. Our centralised bureaucracy continues unremittingly to deal with parish pump issues instead of addressing itself to the major and important issues which the Government should be handling. It appears to me that what is being proposed is that we have more European bureaucracy, more European centralism, more European capitalism. If we make a crude assumption that we will automatically be better off as a result, I think we are making a serious mistake. We [1429] must restructure our own political system in the very same way as the Minister is suggesting these changes in Europe. We must bring them about in our country, first in the Dáil, in the Seanad and in our local authorities. If we consider what centralised bureaucracy has done already to Ireland, we must be very worried that more bureaucracy of a European source does not destroy us completely. We need to have a political system in this country that can articulate solutions and release the energies to put these solutions in place.

Europeans dealing with the macro scene are more interested in devolution. I have heard speakers from the Commission come to various conferences and speak to members of local authorities and I have heard them speak on the need for devolution in this country. I believe they have a far greater concern than their counterparts in Ireland. If we are to mesh and marry the best of our own nationalism, our own culture and our economy, we can only do it if we have macro-devolution. We have been waiting a long time for it.

In 1971 we had a White Paper on Local Government. We had an excellent response to that by the IPA. I have them all at home. I know them practically by heart. Twenty years later, in 1991, we had the Minister for the Environment saying the Government have decided on a comprehensive strategy and detailed arrangements of implementation of a local government reform programme. He said that local authorities must be able to stimulate and harness local initiative and ideas and that a reform programme must be got underway as a matter of urgency. He said that implementation would proceed on a phased basis. Having waited 20 years, I am not altogether sure that anything at the moment is proceeding as a matter of urgency. I hope I am wrong.

Our problem in this country is, sadly, that we are in a grip of party politics with a whip system that always puts party first and country second. We have a Dáil and Seanad that functions for the convenience and the comfort of politicians. Some of the Senators will have heard me [1430] speak on this topic before, but I intend to keep speaking on it until something changes. We have Deputies and Senators who are programmed to respond not to the people who put them in.

Mr. McKenna: Join the party.

Mrs. Hederman: That is the last thing I wish to do — become another robot in this Chamber. They are programmed to respond not to people who put power in their hands, but to the party whip which is in itself a development of the corruption machine which is employed to create parties and majorities in the “Mother of Parliaments”. That is not my remark. That is the remark of the Taoiseach's friend, the late John Healy. Ireland has for too long been subjected to the petty tyranny of party politics and Irish political parties are the most petty of all.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I must ask the Senator to conclude.

Mrs. Hederman: In view of the interruptions perhaps you would give me a minute to conclude.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I am not interrupting the Senator. She started at 1.32 p.m. and it is now 1.47 p.m.

Mr. Hederman: In view of the Chair's request I will conclude, but I hope that these changes which are so fundamentally necessary in our own country will be put into place. This is a magnificent opportunity but it is one that will be squandered as it has in the past unless the changes I have outlined very briefly are put into place.

Mr. McKenna: It is somewhat peculiar that Senator Hederman and myself seem to be very regularly speaking either before or after one another. People might come to the conclusion that we have a kind of an arrangement, or something of that nature. However, I am always glad to listen to Senator Hederman and to take in what she has said. In relation to the last part of her contribution about [1431] party politics and so on, may I remind the Senator that she is not too slow to accept the support of these party politicians when it suits from time to time.

Mrs. Hederman: If party politicians want to support me for the majority or anything else, that is their prerogative. It would be wrong of them not to support a good candidate.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I will ask Senator McKenna to speak to the motion.

Mr. McKenna: I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak here on this very important topic, and also to refer to some of the quotations in Senator Hederman's contribution. I know she was quoting from certain publications to the effect that Ireland has one of the worst economic records in the EC. One would have to qualify that by acknowledging the outstanding performance of this country over the past three to four years in relation to economic development. It is acknowledged in Europe that the performance of this country over those last three to four years is one of the best in Europe. That has to be acknowledged.

Mrs. Hederman: We always hear what we want to hear, do we not?

Mr. McKenna: However, the discussion on Maastricht, to say the least, has very significant implications for the future of this country and, for the future of Europe as a whole. In many ways — and this has been mentioned already — it represents the greatest advancement of European integration since we joined the EC in 1973. The issues at stake are crucial for us. The outcome at Maastricht will have an impact far beyond the Community itself. Indeed, as the Taoiseach stated recently, it will have the most important consequences for the future of the European continent as a whole. There are already extraordinary changes taking place in the world around us. [1432] There has been the unification of Germany and huge changes in the USSR and Eastern Europe.

At present, a tragic situation prevails in Yugoslavia. This country's commitment to European integration has existed now for more than 30 years. If we think about the first time we applied for membership in 1961 we have to acknowledge that the circumstances were very different then to those which exist at present. The dreadful consequences of the Second World War, both in terms of human suffering and economic deprivation, caused the different countries in Europe to make extra special efforts to create a new structure, to facilitate closer relations and co-operation, and to try to ensure that the dreadful carnage that was the Second World War would never happen again. With all the warts and all the difficulties we experience in relation to the EC, it definitely has gone a long way down the road to ensure that by closer co-operation, understanding each other's views, helping and supporting one another in whatever way possible, the danger and the dread of war within Europe has receded to a very large extent.

The decision that we should be part of the structures and the EC was the right one. I cannot imagine, in the economic field in particular, how we as a nation could survive outside the Community. I say that recognising the huge economic difficulties that exist at present and the enormous problem of unemployment that persists. Acknowledging the reservations different people have about how the European Community operates at present, and the fact that Senator Raftery who, himself, was in the European Parliament has great reservations, we do not have any other alternative. If there was an alternative, then we could discuss that. I cannot perceive where this small open economy of ours, which has the major part of its business with our very close partners on the continent and in Great Britain, could be outside this particular economic bloc or that we could do business of any benefit to us with [1433] people who would be inside that particular bloc while we were outside it.

The need for a united Europe could not be expressed better than by the Taoiseach himself speaking in the Dáil when he referred to the Preamble of the first Treaty of Rome which established the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. In that Preamble they resolved to substitute for age old rivalries the merging of these essential interests, to create by establishing an economic community, the basis for a broader and deeper community among peoples long divided by bloody conflicts, and to lay the foundations for institutions which would give direction to a destiny henceforward shared. The ambitions contained in that Preamble are just as valid today as they were in 1951 when the Treaty was first mooted and the European Coal and Steel Community was established. It highlights the necessity for far closer development and co-operation among all the nations in Europe, and an extension of that co-operation among other countries also. It is to be acknowledged and welcomed that a number of other countries are considering joining this European Community. Some of them have already applied for membership. Two countries which would have very strong feelings and attitudes towards neutrality have made application to joint the Community also.

The process has been ongoing since then. We have reached the stage when decisions will be taken on full economic and political union. Credit must be given to successive Governments in this country for the realisation that our chances for development were very slim if we were not part of the Community. The job of successive Governments was made easier by the fact that the public at large were also committed to integration.

I read recently a comment in a newspaper that to the general public talking about the European Community it is the same as listening to the Angelus bells ringing. It was a facetious remark but what they were trying to bring home was that the general public were not very interested in the European Community. [1434] That attitude has changed quite substantially in recent times. People are very anxious to find out exactly what is going on in the Community. They are looking for advice and support. That is why it is extremely important that we, as politicians, should be debating this particular issue at this time.

Mrs. Hederman: Does the Senator not think it is a bit late?

Mr. McKenna: That is a matter of opinion. I do not mind Senator Hederman interrupting me a Leas Chathaoirligh.

If we debated something that was not in the forefront of people's minds six months ago then people might not be so interested but in the run-up to an issue, when it is in every one's mind, we can debate it. May I share five minutes of my time with Senator Hanafin?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I am sure the House will be agreeable to that.

Mr. McKenna: There is just one very important aspect to which I want to refer before I give way to Senator Hanafin that is, education and the issues in relation to the new chapter that has been put in place. I am proud the Irish Government have proposed a chapter on education. This is vital to the future development of the community. As the Minister said, education is fundamental to the economic and social development of the Community. Languages, mobility of teachers and students and the encouragement of mutual academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study, have vast potential for this country. Here we can again play a major role, maybe not as an island of saints but definitely as an island of scholars. The Treaty envisages great expansion in vocational training and continued education to prepare people for the ever changing pattern of the labour market.

As an educationalist, I want to wholeheartedly welcome that particular chapter which has profound implications for [1435] the development of our educational system.

Mr. Hanafin: There are varying views in Ireland on the Maastricht Treaty and the progress towards European federation. There is the Eurocratic view which sees Europe as more important than the individual nations, even than our own. There is the prevalent mendicant view which sees Europe only as a source of handouts, forgetting that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Basically most people do not understand it, or care about it.

The draft treaty is very wide in scope and the language very broad. I would say that few in this House have read it or know with any degree of certainty where it is going to lead.

Personally, I believe that democracy only works in small societies which are reasonably homogeneous. It does not work well in a large multi-cultural region such as Europe. I cannot understand why some Irishmen wish more power to pass to the European Parliament. We make up one per cent of the EC population. On the Council of Ministers we are one in 12; in the Parliament we are one in 35, and our say there would be much less than in the Commission or Council. I shall not dwell on these matters unduly except to say that I do not wish membership of the Community to interfere with out traditions and culture. We do not wish to have the EC institutions meddling in the minutiae of Irish life nor have it interfering in our basic values on the argument that there are commercial connotations or that they come within the spheres of health or social affairs.

I congratulate the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs for detecting threats to the right to life of the unborn in the new Treaty. Both have promised that a Protocol to deal with this will be inserted in the new Treaty. As yet, I have not seen the Protocol, I have heard it is a very strong Protocol. Naturally one would wish to see it and I know it would be the Taoiseach's wish, and that of the [1436] present Minister for Foreign Affairs — and a previous Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Barry — that the right to life would be protected.

I would like to stress that this Protocol must unambiguously protect our fundamental rights under the Irish Constitution against any possible attempts to erode them by any of the EC institutions, including the EC Court of Justice. If the Protocol does not effectively protect our constitutional rights relating to the family and the unborn, it will be vigorously opposed — and defeated — in the referendum next year.

EC advocates set great store on subsidiarity and the flowering of individual national cultures. The Protocol sought is consistent with that aim. We are different in ethos from other members of the EC, particularly as we respect the right to life of unborn children where our 11 partners do not.

Yesterday Senator Doyle made an excellent speech here. Not alone is she worth listening to, but she is worth looking at. It was a pleasure to hear her. She gave the example of Deputy John Bruton going to Europe with £100, changing it into the currency of each EC country but spending nothing and coming home with £26.

I thank Senator McKenna for sharing his time with me.

Mr. Staunton: I welcome this opportunity to speak very briefly on this major issue. I start by being very critical of certain issues. That is our function. In this Seanad for the last three months we have been screaming for a debate on Maastricht because of its significance for this country, it is the most important issue since we joined the European Community. The country at large has been wondering why the Oireachtas has not been debating this major issue.

There is no point blaming those of us who have been shouting for three months for such a debate. The debate has been conceded at last but in a highly unsatisfactory fashion. I am sure if Senators checked what is happening in the various [1437] member states of the European Community they would realise that this debate on the Thursday afternoon before the Maastricht Summit, is the last debate in any European Parliament on this issue. The purpose of a debate like this is to influence public opinion. We might influence a Government, we might influence the Taoiseach and members of his Cabinet, we might, hopefully, influence people in other member states, but since the record of the this debate will not be published until the Maastricht Summit is over, this is a charade. This is very unsatisfactory. I feel very strongly about that.

Our record in the European Community has not been good when money is not an issue. We are very anxious to go to Europe with the begging bowl, to get pounds for the agricultural sector, the social sector or when it comes to implementing effective industrial legislation that affects our markets, but in terms of being good Europeans and good members of this club, that is where we fall down.

Another unsatisfactory record for this country is that we are the third worst member state when it comes to translating European Directives into national legislation. That is very unsatisfactory. Recently in this House we debated consumer protective legislation arising out of a European Community Directive which issued five or six years ago. For example, our neighbour, Britain, introduced legislation to implement that directive four years ago. This slovenly approach we adopt to these very important issues is very unsatisfactory.

Fifteen minutes is very little time to discuss a very important issue like the Maastricht Summit. I want to address myself specifically to the cohesion issue in which I have a great interest as a west of Ireland man. This fundamental policy approach will encourage the richer areas to be generous to the underdeveloped parts of their own countries and to the poorer countries, like Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach had a meeting with the British Prime Minister, Mr. [1438] Major. At the press conference Mr. Major was asked a question on the cohesion issue: will he support the view of the Irish Government, and help Ireland in that regard? The Taoiseach seemed to be battling on a very weak wicket because he stepped in and attempted to answer the question addressed to the British Prime Minister, which I thought was extraordinarily unusual behaviour. When the British Prime Minister got round to giving his comments on it, he was diplomatic and discreet but he was saying no. One of Prime Minister Major's important comments was that if there was a specific plan, they might be able to help on cohesion if the issues are spelled out, and if they were told the regions about which we have a special concern.

Mr. Calleary: He was not talking about Ireland when he was talking about cohesion in the European context.

Mr. Staunton: I welcome the Minister's interjection.

Mr. Calleary: I heard Mr. Major on television.

Mr. Staunton: I saw it, too. I feel very strongly about this issue. This is not just a negative comment about this Government. I could make this comment about any Government in this country since we joined the European Community, so that enhances my own credibility in this issue. It seems to me that, without there ever being a European Community, cohesion would be an issue and there must be the will on the part of the wealthier areas of a community to help the poorer areas. We have to question ourselves and our credibility when we approach Europe on the cohesion issue if there is limited cohesion in our own country. For a number of years many of us west of the Shannon have been stating how dramatically different that part of this country is from other parts and yet we have not seen the emergence of national policies which would allow for cohesion within our own country. There is no such [1439] cohesion and there is discriminatory policy.

The funds and resources are not going into the poorer regions. If our Taoiseach is going to the Dutch Prime Minister or the German Chancellor, they might turn round to the Taoiseach and ask him how does he expect them to help in the cohesion plan when we are not practising cohesion in so far as the poor parts of this country are concerned and when there is no plan to show where our poorer regions are and what specifically we want done. There is a weakness there where, traditionally, regional funds for the entire country have been defined as a unit and where there is no definition of underdevelopment I find it very unsatisfactory.

Given what is happening at present, this movement in Europe away from the nation state and where we are looking at regions rather than countries, there are specific regions that are dramatically different. One of these would be the Mezzogiorno in the south of Italy. Another example would be Sardinia, Corsica and, equally, the west of Ireland. It is these dramatically difficult problems of the west that have convinced the bishops in the west of Ireland that they should convene a conference on this issue which a number of us attended in Galway. My view, for what it is worth, and I have being saying it for a number of years, is that a Government at a certain time will have to set up a different structure such as a development board in that region which can demonstrate for Prime Minister Major and for other European Community leaders the special regard a Government have for this part of this country so that it can be made obvious and get special attention from Europe.

There is dramatic evidence coming out in the census of population, the draft results of which we saw recently, which indicate population losses sufficiently large to suggest that an electoral commission will be established shortly when the final census of population is published. We had a revision of constituencies a couple of years ago and [1440] possibly before the next general election another revision will take place. This shows the extent of that problem which we are not addressing properly.

In relation to other European issues, I welcome the movement towards a qualified majority vote. The principle to date in the Council of seeking unanimity has been strangling the Community and stopping it from taking certain necessary but controversial decisions because it is extremely difficult to get total unanimity on an issue. Qualified majority voting means that out of 76 votes the qualified majority would require 54 votes. That is significantly different to unanimity and should result in a fresh approach.

In so far as this Parliament is concerned and its relationship with Europe, I welcome the apparent decision of the Government to establish a foreign affairs committee but it seems to be moving at a snail's pace. We have been hearing about it for a long time and pressure should be exacted for its establishment. In the context of a debate on Europe, it is important to point out that in this Oireachtas there is a highly unsatisfactory relationship between Members of the Oireachtas and the institutions of the European Community. If one is a Member of the Oireachtas and if one is not, for example, on the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EC there is no structure available to allow a Deputy or a Senator to establish a rapport and communication, and to travel when necessary, with European institutions. It seems to me, if the Community is to be questioned, if an Irish Government are to be questioned in a parliamentary process, it is vital that Deputies have access to these European institutions and have the facilities to travel to them occasionally to question and to have access to documentation to find out what is happening.

The sadness of it all is that we have a strong European Community, we have a strong Executive in this country but we have an extraordinarily weak Parliament where there is extremely limited clout and where it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It has reached the point where [1441] the Parliament of Ireland has a status not greatly different to that of county councils some years ago. That is highly unsatisfactory. It may suit the purpose of a Government and an Executive to have a weak parliament, it may suit a European Commission, but it does not suit the Irish people and it is not in the interests of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

In relation to the defence issue, we have to grasp this bunch of nettles. If we are moving towards European political union with the will of the Irish people, of course we are moving towards a joint defence policy. There is no point in shirking that issue. We have a defence policy for Ireland per se as a country, and we would take up arms in our defence if the need arose. If we are merging our sovereignty with a number of other European countries, we must collectively join these others in a joint defence policy. Some politicians have been unduly wary of public opinion in this regard. The cold war is over now, there is a structured approach on these islands to the Northern Ireland issue through the Anglo-Irish Agreement. There is an outstanding tradition and precedent through Irish Army activity in policing troubled spots of the world on behalf of the United Nations in Africa and the Middle East. With that very healthy precedent, my view is that there is a political will in this country, given certain safeguards, to play a role in a joint European defence policy which, no doubt, will evolve over the next three to five years.

I like the idea floated by the leader of my party in the Dáil in relation to the possibility of the emergence of a European senate. The position in the European Parliament is most unsatisfactory for Ireland but we have no alternative other than to live with it. There is a proposal now to give the Parliament added powers, including the very significant one of having the right to reject certain proposals. The European Parliament has 518 Members, Ireland has only 15 MEPs so we have limited clout. The point Deputy John Bruton has made to balance that situation is that we should look at a system somewhat similar to the [1442] American system where you have a US Senate with two Senators from every state. The suggestion has merit.

I welcome the coming referendum but it is against a background where in 1972 some 16 per cent of those who voted said “no” and in 1987 on the European Single Act some 32 per cent said “no” which was a doubling of the negative vote. I am very much afraid that in the present climate, with problems regarding the Common Agricultural Policy, with the perceptions Irish people may have on the moral issue, with general disillusionment because of the downturn in the economy, the political parties and those who believe in our participation in Europe will have their work cut out to encourage the Irish people to vote substantially in favour of that union.

Mr. Mooney: In common with my colleagues on all sides of the House I wish to welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs to the House for this debate, indeed also echoing the welcome to the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday and for his wide-ranging speech. It was a tribute to the status of this House that the Minister came in on the day of a meeting with one of our European colleagues when matters relating to Maastricht were being discussed.

I am sure the Cathaoirleach will agree that many of the aspects surrounding the Maastricht Treaty have been teased out by people who have a particular expertise in areas that will be discussed next week at Maastricht. Consequently, I would like to devote my time to one or two key points. First, I welcome the Government's statement and the Taoiseach's reiteration yesterday at the press conference that Ireland will be pressing for a more substantive wording in the Treaty in relation to cohesion. This is the essence of the Maastricht Summit as far as Ireland is concerned.

I am not for a moment suggesting that one should diminish or ignore the other aspects of the Treaty that will be discussed and signed, particularly the area of [1443] common defence policy and common foreign policy. However, Ireland should, like other member states, continue to highlight its own priorities. Each country has its own interests, each country is at Maastricht working to its own agenda.

It is rather interesting that as late as today in The Irish Times the German Chancellor, Dr. Kohl, is quoted as saying that he would refuse to sign the European Community treaties for economic, monetary and political union if the reservations of the members at the Maastricht Summit led to agreements full of provisos. I do not doubt The Irish Times accuracy in matters of this nature. Indeed, I compliment them on their extensive and comprehensive coverage of the issues relating to Maastricht in the past few weeks, in common with many of our national newspapers. Essentially, if one is to believe this report it would seem to me to be a coded message to countries like Ireland that they should not hold up the grand advance towards what the Germans see as an eventual federal Europe.

I believe that countries like Germany, France and the richer countries of the EC have a responsibility to the poorer regions, such as Ireland, and that that responsibility should be beyond rhetoric. I am firmly of the opinion that the Irish Government should hold out for substantive legal guarantees written into the Maastricht Treaty in relation to the dispersal of and transfer of funds from the richer centre to the poorer periphery.

Indeed, in reading the various comments that have been made in the weeks leading up to Maastricht, it has become evident to me, that each country has its own interests and will be pursuing them. There are a group of countries in the centre who have a similar interest but the peripheral countries have also got a common interest, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland. In fact, the Spanish have a proposal before the European Community in relation to cohesion and the Social Fund, which is still on the table, and they are not pulling back.

[1444] I know the Taoiseach yesterday reiterated the Government's commitment to ensuring the best possible deal for Ireland. I believe we should go beyond that. I know that suggestions have been made in this House that if Ireland did not get what it wanted it should withdraw from the European Community, Senator Raftery went on to state that if we had that option it would be an option. We do not have that option. We are locked into Europe and I, for one, would not support his view. In fairness to Senator Raftery I do not think, he was actually proposing it as an option but is indicative of the seriousness of our position as a nation state entering into this new phase of European integration that he should even raise it. Perhaps he was not too far wrong when one looks at the statement of Chancellor Kohl. He said:

If it is not irreversible my signature is not going on the Treaty. It is that simple.

Can Senators imagine the Taoiseach or the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the days leading up to Maastricht making a public statement over the weekend that if they did not get legal guarantees or if the Treaty was not to their liking, was not representing Ireland's interests or supporting or protecting Ireland's interests, that they would refuse to sign? What would be the reaction in Europe? I know there are those on the fringes of Irish political debate who would probably welcome it. Indeed, like many of my colleagues in both Houses, I have been inundated with correspondence from various lobbying interests who are predicting dire consequences for this country if we go ahead with the integration as spelled out in Maastricht. I respect the opinions of these groups but I do not necessarily share them.

The debate has been muddied to some degree by an over-emphasis on a proposed common defence policy, the possibility of Ireland's traditional neutrality being dropped and in the proposals for a unified front on foreign policy. In The Observer last week William Keegan, the Economics Editor, on writing about the [1445] Maastricht Summit and also Adrian Hamilton in an article entitled “Putting the Brakes on Germany's Power” said that Britain's history was not the same as the Continent's. Irish history is not the same as the Continent certainly in recent times. We refer a great deal to the golden age but that was in the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries. Much of our contact with Europe was blotted out by 800 years of occupation by our neighbour so that our culture is very much bound up with our neighbour rather than with European culture.

In the article I referred to, it stated that there is not the same dream of peace and prosperity, nor is there a similar constitutional development but that Britain — here again it could apply to Ireland — needs to unite with the rest of the EC in tackling what is to be done about the collapse of Soviet authority in the east, the developing ethnic conflicts throughout Europe and rising fascism in the face of immigration.

In another article written by William Keegan, going over this ground briefly of the anxieties being expressed about our sovereignty, our neutrality and our foreign policy positions, Mr. Keegan says:

The problems associated with difficulties over “sovereignty” and foreign policy have been grabbing most of the attention but one of the most important economic questions attached to monetary union concerns the degree to which the strong will become stronger under monetary union and the weak weaker and, significantly, the social disruption which could follow.

We have 260,000 unemployed in this country. If one even glances at the pre-budget submissions from organisations such as the St. Vincent de Paul, the Conference of Major Religious Superiors and many others, one could not but be aware of the severe poverty many people are facing leading into the feast of Christmas.

The west of Ireland, my own part of the country, has perhaps suffered more than most, I know that the people among whom I live have little appreciation, [1446] understanding, or indeed concern about many of the technical terms that are used in Europe such as cohesion, inter-governmental conferences and indeed Maastricht Summit. They want bread on their tables and a job. That is why I believe that the Government and any Irish Government would be abrogating their responsibility to their own people if they did not fight, fight and fight again at Maastricht and beyond to ensure that the disparities between the centre and the periphery are eliminated. The Delors report has pointed out that under a single currency:

The permanent fixing of exchange rates would deprive individual countries of an important instrument for the correction of economic imbalances. If sufficient consideration were not given to regional imbalances the economic union would be faced with grave economic and political risks.

Yet, again, we hear about political risks, about social disruption, if disparity is not eliminated.

The Vice-President of the German Bundesbank Hans Tietmeyer warned that a monetary union of countries with widely differing productivity levels could bring mass unemployment and migration from poor to richer regions. Could bring, says Mr. Tietmeyer? Perhaps he should visit Ireland and he will find that it has already brought it. Traditionally, the markets were Britain and America. Now they tell me that there is an Irish enclave in several European cities, and in his country. In fairness to Mr. Tietmeyer, he says:

Are we ready to put up with the risks of unemployment and migration towards those areas of the Community with higher productivity and higher incomes?

Mr. Tietmeyer was echoing the conclusions of a report that was published as far back as 1977, the MacDougal report. It stated that a huge increase in the European Community budget would be required under economic and monetary [1447] union to assist poorer regions or countries. It pointed out that taxation and public expenditure reduced regional inequalities by some 40 per cent in individual countries but for effective regional policies under economic and monetary union, the Brussels budget would have to be increased from 1.2 per cent, which currently is at between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of EC gross domestic product.

In a further report commissioned for the European Parliament and published last week, the British economists David Mays and Ian Beggs pointed out that with its much smaller budget under present proposals a European monetary union would contain much greater regional disparities than the United States. As was pointed out by Senator O'Toole yesterday, the federal budget is of the order of some 15 per cent, and yet there are regional imbalances in the United States. Here we are dealing with the reality of 1.2 per cent of Community resources. The Government, aided by the Greeks, Portuguese and the Spanish, have been going to the Commission over the last number of years with increasing urgency, culminating in the discussions that are currently surrounding Maastricht and telling them they must increase the transfer of funds from the rich centre to the periphery. The reality is they have not even sat down to discuss an increase in the existing budget from 1.2 per cent which, as everybody knows, is taken from VAT receipts. In that report to the European Parliament, Mays and Beggs advocate, among other things — and this contains the germ of an answer — the automatic transfer of funds from richer to poorer regions on the lines already practised between the German regions, or the Länder states as they are called.

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research in Britain said last week that the exchange rate mechanism could be described as a low inflation, high unemployment regime. How true that is in relation to Ireland. We have a low inflation rate. If we look at the economic statistics across Europe in recent months we find that we have one of the lowest [1448] inflation rates among the EC, and, indeed, in the OECD. We have a reducing budget deficit which is around 3 per cent and the ratio of gross national product to our national debt is down to around 103 per cent. All the mechanisms are there, yet we still have high unemployment.

My message, meagre and humble though it is, to our Government is one of support and encouragement at the Maastricht talks, not forgetting that our interest lies in a direct transfer of funds from the rich to the poor. It is on that we stand or fall.

Mr. Ross: I find myself in an invidious and somewhat incongruous position in that I agree with portion of Senator Mooney's speech. I congratulate him on it. There has been a mature debate which carried many warnings about what is down the line for us, and it is particularly refreshing to hear such warnings from the Government side.

The sense of inevitability about the development of Europe is something I find uneasy and difficult to accept. The consensus about Europe that exists in all the political parties represented in this House and in the Dáil is something of which I am deeply suspicious, not that I think there are any ulterior motives attached to that consensus, but it is extraordinary when all those parties who did not originally accept the idea of a united Europe now agree. It is a reflection of public opinion rather than being politically led. What I mean by that is we have to accept that a united Europe is inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it.

As several speakers said, in reality we cannot withdraw from Europe at this stage. We are not strong enough on our own. The development of the European Community has gone too far for that line of action but we can influence it and warn of the great dangers which lie ahead, as Senator Mooney so rightly and eloquently did just now. I take Senator Mooney's point about Leitrim being one of the poorest areas of this country and about it not benefiting visibly from the [1449] European Community and the developments there. When I was in my new constituency in Wicklow yesterday I travelled down a motorway. It is proudly emblazoned on the motorway that the funds were provided by the European Economic Community. However, by the side of that motorway are caravans of travellers, I think illegally, encamped there. While the motorway is wonderful for the motorists, it is a nuisance for the travellers and adversely affects their lives. It does nothing for them. One of the great problems about European funds is that they are distributed to the middle classes even in poor regions, those who already have, and not to those who have not.

The poorer sections of our community do not believe they have benefited from the European ideal, the European market or the Community. They are untouched by it. They are untouched by the great infrastructural benefits enjoyed by those of us who drive cars, or who are involved in trade or business. They are still neglected. On social policy the Minister said with a certain amount of self-congratulation — one cannot blame him for that because Ministers are in the business of self-congratulation, we all are but sometimes some of us are more subtle than Ministers — that:

We argued strongly and with success that policy formulation in this area must be consistent with the overriding need to strengthen economic and social cohesion and to promote employment.

They are fine words. He went on to say that as a result of our efforts there is now a reference to the promotion of employment at the very beginning of the chapter on social policy.

We are not told what that reference is, but one can be certain that it is only a reference or the Minister would have told us more. What alarms me about EC developments is that while they are very welcome as far as they go, in their ideals and the benefits they bring, a large section of the population are untouched by them. I have not seen the EC take action in the last few years to tackle the [1450] problem of unemployment. I see very little benefit coming to the poorer regions. Ireland is a poor region and has benefited but the poor in the poorer regions have hardly benefited at all. We will still have the same problems in a decade's time. Unemployment and the problems of those on social welfare and those who are forgotten in society will remain with us. The EC developments will bring great benefits to many of those involved in industry but I do not see a single person being taken off the dole as a result of the Maastricht talks or as a result of the Minister's speech.

This is a great ideal and gives an opportunity to many people but it will leave a large number of people on social welfare, the homeless and unemployed. Do not tell me the EC means something to them because it does not. They are still condemned to the same situation. They do not look forward to the Maastricht talks or to ten years down the line with any great enthusiasm or approval. The EC directives on the environment and on other middle-class issues have been of great benefit but on the bread and butter issues for the poor they have not been and it is time that the EC recognised its responsibilities in that regard. It is an uncomfortable subject which is difficult to tackle.

Monetary union in terms of our public finances will be of enormous benefit. We have had a singularly unhappy record in the past ten years with our public finances. It is very difficult to recognise why this is so.

Mr. Dardis: The Senator means the first six years.

Mr. Ross: I recognise the benefits of the past four years and of the two years before the Progressive Democrats were part of the present coalition. I will be first to recognise and acknowledge the improvements that were made in the public finances by this Government and indeed the last Government when both the Progressive Democrats and Fine Gael were in Opposition. I am sure the Progressive Democrats would do that as [1451] well. We failed before then to recognise the necessary disciplines we had to impose on ourselves if the public finances were to come into any sort of acceptable line. The disciplines that will be imposed will be of enormous benefit to Ireland. It is in many ways a useful exercise to be able to say we cannot do this because Europe will not allow us. We will have to keep inflation in line with European limits.

The Minister said:

The framework for the co-ordination of economic policies will be strengthened with special provisions against monetary financing and excessive budget deficits.

That is a very welcome discipline because it will force politicians to put the economy on a sound footing. It is very difficult for politicians to impose such constraints because they make them unpopular but if the constraints are mandatory and written in from outside, they will have no option. That will be welcome in this country in view of the history we have of not being able to deal with our public finances.

Ireland has been particularly backward in terms of financial discipline, financial controversies, financial collapses and financial regulations.

Mr. Dardis: But not financial scandals.

Mr. Ross: They are unproven at this stage. Unlike Senator Dardis, I would prefer to wait for the results of those inquiries before I pronounce them financial scandals. Unfortunately we have had many such controversies and the reason is that our financial regulatory environment has been the worst in Europe. In terms of investment and financial consultants, we are the worst regulated in Europe. We have not yet implemented the EC directive on investment services and unfortunately, any cowboy can set themselves up as a financial consultant or an investment consultant anywhere they like and they are not subject to any regulation. That is [1452] a failing on the part of successive Irish Governments and we have had a succession of unhealthy and unfortunate collapses.

Exchange control was never properly policed. We have also had bank collapses because of failings on the part of the regulatory authorities. The Stock Exchange has been incapable of finding anybody guilty of insider dealing. That is the reality. It is because of the loose nature of our financial regulations that we have had the extraordinary financial controversies in the past few months. In 1994 Stage 2 begins and then in Stage 3 we will have the setting up of a European central bank and we will become a properly regulated financial Community. For reasons best known to successive Governments, we have not introduced a financial services Act although we have been crying out for one. We are leaving it to the EC to regulate the financial environment because we have not been able to regulate it ourselves.

The Minister mentioned a common foreign policy. Although the Government and Fianna Fáil have traditional difficulties with tackling the problem of neutrality, it is high time we faced up to it. It is absurd that we squirm, duck, weave and invent new movements and new ideas when we are talking of a common foreign policy. We must face the need for a common defence policy if there is a common foreign policy and security policy. As a result we will have to face the argument about having a common army and common law enforcement, not only internally but externally. I am tired of reading ministerial speeches where the issue of neutrality is fudged. We must either be a fully fledged member of the European Community with all that that involves or withdraw from that area and become a half-hearted member.

Mr. Dardis: I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Kirk, to the House. I hope his presence here does not indicate that he expects me to speak about agriculture for the rest of the debate.

The Progressive Democrats were among the first in the Seanad to press for [1453] this debate some weeks ago and we did so on the grounds that the Maastricht Summit will mark a crossroads for both Europe and Ireland. The decisions to be taken at Maastricht and subsequent to it will have a most profound effect on the future shape of Ireland's economic, social and political progress, not just for this generation but for generations to come.

Few issues in our history have been more important than this one. That is why I regret that we are debating these profoundly important matters only days before the Summit itself. Our ability to influence these events or to make a positive contribution towards the promotion of Ireland's interests in the Treaty must be highly questionable at this stage. Many of the Treaty provisions have been settled so the opportunity for movement is limited. The Oireachtas should have debated these matters long ago. The high quality of the debate we have had here over the past two days underlines that. Surely the most effective way to express our sovereignty, which can be strengthened rather than weakened by the developments taking place in Europe, is through the collective opinion of the Oireachtas.

The Progressive Democrats welcome moves towards political and economic union within the European Community. As enthusiastic Europeans we believe we are now entering a very exciting phase in what has been described as the great European adventure. We believe that it is a phase of opportunity for Ireland, one in which we must participate fully and one to which we can contribute substantially. The option of dissociating ourselves from events abroad no longer exists and we must consider how best we can influence those events.

The scope of this debate is very wide as one will be aware from the contributions which have been made. Neutrality, defence, security, foreign policy, political union, sovereignty, institutional reform, the way decisions are made, how Community wealth should be distributed, the effects of the enlargement of the Community, the role of the European Parliament and many more issues, come [1454] within the scope of this debate and are involved in the Treaty. Unfortunately, the development of a type of Eurospeak which uses terms like “cohesion”, “subsidiarity”, “legitimacy”, “the democratic deficit”, “variable geometry”, “solidarity”, “the three pillar approach”, “co-decision making” and so on, only tends to obscure the central issues. The jargon has only served to make the debate elitist and we can scarcely be surprised or complain that there is such a lack of public awareness and interest in these matters.

The lack of public discussion on these matters was referred to earlier in the debate but I would like to acknowledge the contribution by bodies like the Irish Council of the European Movement and the Institute of European Affairs in making all of us much more conscious of the urgent necessity for debate on these matters in advance of the Summit and the referendum which will follow it. There is a real danger that the very important issues may become swamped by technical language.

We must ask ourselves what are the most important issues, and from an Irish perspective the overriding priority must be to establish economic and social cohesion as an essential principle of Community action. Unless we do so, the immense benefits of the Single Market which were referred to earlier, the benefits of economic and monetary union and, eventually, the benefits of a single currency will flow from the regions on the fringe towards the centre of the Community. Already Ireland's degree of disadvantage is such that out of 160 regions within the Community, we come fourth from the bottom in terms of wealth and our ability to generate wealth.

While I acknowledge that reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is not directly part of the Maastricht agenda, it is unquestionable that unless our isolation from the European mainland and the dominance of agriculture within our economy and our relatively poor per capita income are all taken into account, the gap between the rich and the poor regions will widen rather than narrow. Apart from agriculture, cohesion will be [1455] central to the future economic welfare of this country. I would be quite apprehensive about the ability to achieve the degree of cohesion necessary to address our problems. If Germany can move so rapidly and so effectively to close the gap between East Germany and West Germany, surely then, by extension, the Community must be committed to similar measures for Europe as a whole.

There has been much talk of the role of the Structural Funds and other measures to compensate us for our peripherality, but in the event of Ireland obtaining additional funds, the question arises how will we be able to avail of this money if we do not have the domestic resources to provide the necessary additional funding required if we are to avail of these funds. Given our present economic circumstances, additionality — another jargon word — is a huge problem from our point of view. Mr. Major's visit can scarcely have given us much encouragement in this direction. It must also be said that if cohesion is to be achieved, the practice of the wealthier countries giving domestic aid to their citizens will have to be discontinued, otherwise the distortions will persist.

To reap the benefits of cohesion there will have to be an even greater onus on us to manage our domestic economy efficiently. I am glad Senator Ross referred to these matters because there is a perception abroad that we will be absolved from management of our own economy when the reverse is true — there will be an even greater onus on us to manage our economy effectively to avail of whatever assistance is given to us.

The Progressive Democrats take the view that economic and social cohesion can be enforced rather than diminished by increasing the European Parliament's power of co-decision making. The Parliament's record indicates that Ireland's vital national interests are more effectively and sympathetically addressed there than within other European institutions. I do not support the view that because Ireland has only 15 MEPs out of [1456] a Chamber of 518 our influence is less than it is in the Council of Ministers where our vote is one in 12. The group system within the Parliament and alliances with those who have similar regional, social and economic interests, can be used to Ireland's national advantage. We have plenty of examples of how small groups within our own Parliament can exert substantial influence.

If sovereignty must be ceded it would be much better to cede some sovereignty to a directly elected accountable Parliament than to the Commission or the Council of Ministers who are not directly accountable and who can do their business behind closed doors without any reference to the public. The European Parliament is the only directly elected and accountable insitution within the Community and, as its powers increase, as I expect they will, it will become more important that there be a much closer relationship between the Irish Members of the European Parliament and the Members of the Oireachtas. We have already made some recommendations to the Committee on Procedures and Privileges as to representation or audience for our European parliamentarians and they will have participation in the new European Affairs Committee. That is to be welcomed because it is illogical to have both Houses of the Oireachtas and the European Parliament operating in isolation.

I am an enthusiastic federalist, to use the so-called f-word, because I believe that movement towards full political union and the development of a common foreign and security policy will immeasurably strengthen the Community and underline just how archaic are some of our national obsessions. I submit that it is through enthusiastically working for economic and political union within the Community and through embracing the spirit which tore down the wall between the east and the west that we stand a chance of ultimately breaking down the barriers which have cost so many lives and divided so many people [1457] on this small island. I hope the momentum towards economic and political union will not be reduced by the enlargement of the Community through the addition of countries like Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Scandinavian EFTA countries. The Communities' institutions have shown a tremendous capacity to respond to change and have demonstrated this capacity by the smooth integration of East Germany. The institutional framework will need to be flexible enough to encompass enlargement.

There is not enough time to fully debate some other important aspects such as subsidiarity, another jargon word to which the Progressive Democrats attach much importance. Decisions should be taken at the lowest level at which they can be most appropriately taken, there must be greater trust in the capacity of local communities to have a direct input into shaping their lives and their futures and we must have more confidence in our democracy and our democratic institutions. I think moving towards majority voting will be a help but I believe that in this movement towards economic union, political union and a united Europe, there is a great opportunity for us to contribute. We have been criticised for taking and not contributing, but I do believe we have an immense opportunity to contribute and our history demonstrates that. It is frequently suggested that the restoration of civilisation to the European mainland began from places like the Skelligs Rock and the west of Ireland and if we are conscious of the European heritage which we all enjoy, I think we have an opportunity to contribute significantly to that as well. The nation state is of fairly recent origin. It is a product of colonialism. It hinges on central Government, on centralising everything to a capital city, and it is becoming archaic. I think it would be very appropriate for us, given our history, to move away from that model.

I look forward to the deliberations at Maastricht. I wish our Taoiseach and our Minister for Foreign Affairs well in their fight to protect our interests and to bring [1458] forward a treaty which will reflect the European heritage. May I say to Senator Hanafin that I think he misunderstands the degree of tolerance and the degree of liberalism which exists in Europe and with our European partners, which accommodates diverse interests, allows diverse cultures to flourish and is not imposing a moral code, or a lack of a moral code, on anybody. I look forward to Ireland being able to contribute substantially, directly and positively towards the development of a better and more unified Europe.

Mr. Costello: I welcome the Minister to this House. I suppose I should say we are pleased to be able to participate in this rather belated debate on the upcoming conference at Maastricht which is due on 9 and 10 December — which will produce a new draft Treaty for the European Community. I say belated because there will be no opportunity to influence what is going to take place at Maastricht. It is too late to have any input into the actual terms and provisions of the draft Treaty and what we are doing in really engaging in an exercise which could just as well take place after Maastricht. It is a shame that the Government did not see fit to give us the opportunity to discuss the issue before now. Unfortunately, since the return of the Dáil after the summer, the Government were involved in internal issues.

There was a meeting between the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the other peripheral countries, Spain, Portugal and Greece with Jacques Delors to try to get peripheral aid for Ireland, and that was not successful. They expected this would be written into the new draft Treaty and they did not have any success. In the middle of last month, there was a meeting between the Taoiseach and Mr. Delors, which produced the same result — nothing. He was also looking for compensatory payments for our involvement in the new Treaty and he was told that some political declarations separate from the draft Treaty would be given — in fact, they would be agreeing in principle [1459] to increase the Structural Funds — but there would be no commitment in the terms of the Treaty itself.

It is a shame that that is the position from which we are starting, a rather belated attempt by our own Government to get some commitment. Failing to do that, there was the meeting with Mr. Majors yesterday. That meeting was more notable for the disagreements than from agreement in the approach to Europe. Now Spain has threatened to use the veto unless consideration is given to the peripheral countries in terms of new Structural Funds. The least we can do is support that approach, but it is very haphazard. We seem to be fighting over the crumbs from the European table, trying to get a bit here and a bit there when we should be approaching this from the opposite direction — we should be trying to bolster some of our industries or our infrastructure with Structural Funds. We need to make ourselves more competitive and taking subsidies is certainly not the way to do this once the barriers go. We need to ensure economic cohesion and convergence in the new Europe but the problem is that there is no commitment to the social side. It is one thing to have economic and monetary union, which is defined in monetary terms, and a European Central Bank, proposed in the Minister's speech, may come into operation in 1994 and a further stage in 1996 or 1997, but we cannot have a fiscal union or a currency union unless it is accompanied by a proper economic and social union.

We will find ourselves with all sorts of problems unless there is a commitment written into the draft Treaty. For example the Irish Congress of Trade Unions at their conference last year said that, under the present draft Treaty, as we understand it from the Minister's statement, they would support a genuine economic and monetary union only if it leads to social and economic cohesion, that is not purely a monetary union, and that it must take Ireland's special needs into account. So far there is no indication that will be the case and the European [1460] trade union, ETUCE, may find themselves opposed to it as well on the same grounds.

The European Monetary Union proposal is that a Government deficit of more than 3 per cent of gross domestic product a year or accumulated national debt of more than 60 per cent of gross domestic product would make a nation liable to financial penalities. It would mean that our present national debt, which is running at 105 per cent, would have to be reduced to 60 per cent by 1996-97. That simply is not possible without major cuts in public finances. This means that inherent in the proposals is a two-tier system. There is no way we could be in accord with that proposal if that is included in the draft Treaty. We would be compelled to make massive spending cuts that would have all sorts of negative economic and social effects. That does not lend itself to social and economic cohesion. Of course some time in the course of the year we will have to put the draft Treaty to a referendum and we are going to have to argue the pros and cons of what is being proposed.

If all we get on the critical issues of social and economic convergence and cohesion are agreements in principle and vague statements as distinct from the very quantifiable timescale and statements in relation to the currency alignment and the monetary alignment, then what will be the choice for us? We may find ourselves in a situation where we will say: “No, we cannot accept that because there is no commitment there”. We may find we are staying with what we have under the Treaty of Rome and under the Single European Act. Remember that is not negatived, that still remains, that is unaltered. It would mean that Ireland could commit itself to continuing at the present level of integration. We would not be expelled for doing so and nothing that takes place at Maastricht can be superimposed if we refuse in the referendum to go any further in the matter.

It would be a shame if we find that because of the inadequacy of preparation by the Taoiseach and the Government, what comes out of Maastricht results in [1461] the Irish people being disappointed, being confused and fearing that the future in Europe is not as rosy as it should be and that they will vote against continuing in Europe and developing an integrated Europe. That would be a dreadful shame. I am a strict European in the sense that I believe it is very much more desirable that we should put behind us the traumas and the divisions that emanated from two world wars in this century in Europe. It is remarkable that nations that were at each other's throats in the not very distant past, a couple of decades ago, are now prepared to come together in an integrated Europe. That is a marvellous achievement and I would hate to think it would be endangered because of a slipshod, sloppy and messy preparation which has been the order of the day so far in relation to this country and indeed the fact that the Irish public have not been made aware of the situation in itself could mean that decisions will be taken without adequate information.

We have to emphasise very much the whole question of peripherality. There is no doubt about that, it has to be a central issue. The begging bowl mentality must be forgotten. We are not looking for the crumbs. We are looking for a proper slice of the Community cake. Because we are in a peripheral area, we must ensure that an integral part of the new Treaty is a commitment to ensuring that the Community budget as a whole is distributed to ensure there is equality of industrial development, equality of economic and social development, equality of infrastructural development and that the budget funding gives the proportion required to ensure that. There is no sense in doing it otherwise.

We must ensure that the principles and the instruments are put in place in the draft Treaty at this point. Otherwise we will end up with a central wealthy core of the Community and a permanently impoverished peripheral regional area. That goes for Ireland, for large parts of the United Kingdom, for the Iberian Peninsula, for Greece and it would also apply to the countries on the frontiers [1462] who are trying to get into the European Community at present.

The stark situation is clear from the fact that the EC budget at present is only 1 per cent of the Community national product. In any other country in a similar situation such as the United States, Canada, Australia, where you have really got a federal structure of states the transfers from central Government are of the order of 10 per cent to 20 per cent. That is the type of money, that is the type of budgeting we have to talk about and certainly there is no indication of that at present.

One of the important things we have to get is a common industrial policy. That is the only way in which we can ensure that we can supersede the national incentives, the financial incentives and tax incentives that have been given to attract industry, and to have an incentive approach with a common direction so that all of the peripheral areas will benefit equally from the increased industrialisation that undoubtedly will take place in Europe. The Social Charter is central to all of this and in the last analysis unless what we are doing results in an improvement in the quality of life then we might as well not be doing it at all. Unless health, education, housing, leisure, child care, care of the elderly and all of that improve it is useless. Our incomes must increase. It is a very sad fact that our incomes before joining the EC in Ireland were two thirds of the average EC income and now 18 years later we are still exactly two thirds of the average EC income. In fact, we have not benefited vis-á-vis other countries in the EC. Subsidies are certainly not the answer. We need something a lot more substantial than that.

In relation to the critical issue of foreign and security policy, I am not at all impressed by the remarks made by the Minister in his statement of what he calls the CFSP — the common foreign and security policy. It seems to envisage a very broad ranging policy in relation to security and to defence and I do not think that is the right way to go about it. What we have at present is the collapse of the [1463] two super blocs that were created after the Second World War, namely, the Warsaw Pact and NATO. They have both disappeared. One existed because the other existed. I do not believe there is any reason we should fill that vacuum. If we do so with a European power, as sure as night follows day a further power will emerge to counterbalance that. Should we be saying there should be a European defence force, an African defence force, an Asian defence force? Why should we be creating a defence force? That is one vacuum that should be left empty and should not be filled.

It is a very short step from moving from security, to defence, to the offensive. What would we have done, for example, if there was a common defence force at the outbreak of trouble in Yugoslavia and the support by the EC for Croatia? Would we have gone that step further and have sent in a European force? I am virtually certain we would. We would have gone into the offensive from a defence position because European Community favoured the position of Croatia as against Serbia. I am quite certain we would have gone from security, to defence, to the offensive.

It is one thing to talk about drug trafficking, to talk about a policeman in Europe but it is quite another thing to talk about a military structure. The time is right now for us, to make a positive statement of our neutrality and that positive statement is that we can be a leader of the non-aligned countries in Europe and that instead of creating a new military alliance we should be working towards a point where no new military alliance is established at all.

We already have a world military structure, the United Nations; let that be the policeman. Let us see that the United Nations which is also a product of the Second World War is restructured and that we change the Security Council which is totally outdated and which led, wrongly, towards the Gulf War. Let us look at that again and let us ensure that organisation is the world policeman; let us not fill the vacuum in relation to [1464] NATO and the Warsaw Pact but let us look to the broader horizon.

Mr. R. Kiely: The deliberations at Maastricht will have serious consequences for our country. We are in the EC and are party to the Treaty of Rome under which the Common Agricultural Policy was formed. This meeting in Maastricht is vital and will have serious consequences for our country. Despite everything, we have no alternative but to be part of the EC but are we prepared to compete with the other EC countries? We will have free trade in 1993. I remember the Taoiseach some years ago in the National Concert Hall launched a campaign where the slogan was: “Think ahead, think Europe”. I wonder was his advice heeded by all sections to ensure we would be properly prepared for 1993, for the internal market and especially for the decisions that will be made in Maastricht?

We must also remember when we joined the European Monetary System. Definitely it devalued money. There is no doubt about that. You got a lot less for a pound after we joined the EMS. Now there is monetary union. Does that mean we will get less for our money when we have a common currency?

There is also mention of peripherality. In the context of Europe, Ireland is a peripheral country. When the Channel Tunnel between England and France is in operation, we will be the only country not connected to Europe by road. We will have to depend on sea and air so in that respect we are at a disadvantage in Europe. It is important that there should be more for the disadvantaged countries and in that respect Ireland would be very disadvantaged. I am sure the Taoiseach in his talks with Mr. Major yesterday — but I do not think he met with much success — maintained that there must be more money for the poorer countries and that would include Ireland.

We are also in a sense a country that is dependent on agriculture. We are getting urbanised to a greater degree and I suppose industrial development is needed for employment. Our raw materials for [1465] industry have to be imported and in this respect we are also at a disadvantage. This is something that must be recognised in Maastricht.

There is also a danger that the countries with strong economies will dominate Europe economically. In a sense they made their economies strong through hard work and this is one area in which Ireland did fail. We did not work hard enough to ensure that our economy would be on a par with the best in Europe. We were warned that to compete we would have to pull up our socks and work hard but we still remained the happy-go-lucky people hoping that things would turn out all right. In this competitive age that is not enough. We must pull up our socks and work hard to ensure that we can compete with other countries.

There is also a danger to our traditional values. I am a traditionalist and I would like to see them being maintained especially our sport. I do not know about the social or moral effects. Definitely we would like to see our values being maintained but we must go with the times and our involvement in Europe will have an effect on our traditional values. The voluntary associations and sporting and recreational bodies must ensure that our traditional values are safeguarded. We must ensure that our identity will be maintained.

It is an important meeting in Maastricht next week and I wish the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs every success. I would like to compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State at that Department for the wonderful work they are doing to ensure that Ireland will benefit from these talks and that employment here will increase. I wish them every success in their talks.

Mr. Reilly: The first point that has to be made today is that the European experiment culminating in the EC and the Single European Act and gaining further expression in Maastricht has been good for Europe and good for Ireland. It is a tremendous achievement that the [1466] ruins that was Europe after World War II, the extraordinary bitterness, the genocide and the dreadful atrocities of World War II, were replaced with something so creative, constructive and positive as the EC. That is something we can look on with pride and as one of the great achievements of civilisation to date. It has to be the perspective from which we approach any discussion on further development of the European Community.

We can only begin by reaffirming our commitment to Europe, by reaffirming that we are committed Europeans, that we believe in a united Europe on a social, cultural, an economic and a political level.

Although domestic mismanagement at various times did intrude, the European experiment has clearly been good for our economy and for opening up windows for Ireland on a number of levels. It would not be worthwhile at this stage, in a limited short speech, to go through a detailed analysis of the benefits of membership to Ireland. They are clear to Members of this House and, thankfully, clear to most members of the public at the moment. We will have to be extremely careful about next year's referendum. There is alienation from politics because of contemporary events which may prejudice the outcome of that referendum, but that is a different debate and we will have to worry about that on another occasion.

In addressing the issues that will arise at Maastricht I think it is clear that the concept of European political co-operation is being replaced by joint action. I have had the opportunity thankfully last year of doing some reading about this and there is a definite movement towards a diminution of our neutrality. No one should shy away from that reality. The Minister should say clearly that that is what is at issue. Our neutrality was never based on any deep philosophical concept. It was a political tactic at a given time in a given set of circumstances. It was never an article of faith. It was never rooted in our political culture but rather an expedient and an expression of anti-Britishness at particular instances in our history.

[1467] I am one of the people who have no difficulty in saying publicly or privately that neutrality is not a sacred cow. I am also one of the people who believe that decisions are better made with our participation than being made without us and that we should be moving towards co-operation in all of these areas. We are a nation which strives for peace. Sadly we all know of the atrocities up the road from us our perspective as a nation which desires peace can only be helpful in discussions at Maastricht. I do not think that the preservation of some tactical type of neutrality, which is really something of a national myth, should be an issue at Maastricht. We should be willing to compromise our neutrality. My view would be that our representatives at Maastricht should do that.

The big issue clearly facing us at Maastricht is to achieve what is now commonly and popularly known as cohesion. We want to achieve the maximum funding and the maximum support systems so that we can take the brunt of competition within the new Europe. It would be a great pity if the House here does not accept the Fine Gael amendment, one part of which would support the Spanish demand at Maastricht that there would be a legally enforceable guarantee of continuing financial support. Rather than having to go with the begging bowl on repeated occasions to Europe hoping for an injection of funding here or there, there should be an article of faith incorporated into the Maastricht Treaty, and that would be part of what is presented to the people in the referendum next year; in other words, legally binding guarantee to this country of financial support to achieve cohesion in Europe.

It is critically important that we oppose a two-speed Europe. It is clear at the moment that we are on 67 per cent of the average European income, so we are among the three poorer countries of Europe. We have great difficulty — and I know this causes great frustration — with the matching funding. Because of our domestic situation over the years we [1468] could not avail of all the possible European funding because of our inability to produce matching funds. This system will have to be changed. With economic and monetary union there will have to be coordination of macro economic policies, including national budgets. In other words, we will have to put our House in order financially. We must not be out of step with the rest of Europe. The now disgraced concept of wild budgeting will have to go by the wayside as we prepare to bring our economic policies and our budget strategies into line with the rest of Europe.

Maastricht offers an opportunity for Ireland to achieve changes in the proposals on the Common Agricultural Policy. It offers the opportunity to gain acceptance of the Irish national food supply as part of a strategic European reserve. Also, it gives us an opportunity to shift the emphasis of the correction of the Common Agricultural Policy on to the factory farmers in the centre of Europe. In other words, rather than pruning the production of people for whom farming is a way of life, traditional, deep-rooted experience for generations, there should be a curb on the production levels of the mega-farmers, the factory farmers in the centre of Europe for whom the issue is not as emotionally or sentimentally based. Maastricht could offer us an opportunity to get a redirection of the Common Agricultural Policy.

For me as a person from a Border constituency, there is another tremendous potential in the Maastricht summit and the fall-out from it. I believe personally that the further we go down the road towards economic and monetary union, and towards cohesion in Europe, the more we obliterate the Border here between the North and the South of this country. The British negotiators should be made very aware of and should accept more fully than they do that any injection of funding to poorer regions such as Northern Ireland will clearly be helpful to the British budget, although they are one of the highest payers into the European Central Fund. I believe that if [1469] there is an injection of funding to Northern Ireland and to the Republic of Ireland and if we achieve a common currency, there will be a breakdown of the divisions in this country. It would be an interesting quirk of history that in creating a united Europe we would be moving to create a united Ireland within that context. For a Border person addressing this debate, that is a central consideration. That is one of the great areas of hope associated with this. Nobody can be unaware of the dreadful situation that pertains in that part of the country at the moment. It is not proper to this debate to address these issues, but one cannot let the opportunity pass without saying that what is happening in that part of our country is becoming progressively more horrific by the day. Any potential in the Maastricht Summit to alleviate social difference or economic and social problems in the North, which would kill the sources of violence in itself, would be good. It would also have the potential to create unity in the country.

We should go into the Maastricht Summit, first, accepting a diminution of our neutrality. It would be a diminution of our sovereignty on one level but ultimately it would be an enhancement of our sovereignty because it would make us effective players on the European stage. We would no longer be hurlers on the ditch. We would no longer be the people who want the goodies without the responsibilities that go with them. I commend to the Minister in the House today that that is the first thing the Irish position should include. Second, we must go to Maastricht convinced that we must prevent a two speed Europe, and that we must get the necessary injection of moneys to achieve what is now commonly known as cohesion. Third, we must go to Maastricht prepared to use this opportunity to achieve a rethink on the proposals to alter the Common Agricultural Policy. Fourth, I commend that we go to Maastricht with the conviction that we should support the Spanish veto to achieve our objectives. This is the most effective measure with the potential to [1470] achieve our objectives. That should be our objective.

This debate has been worthwhile and will do something to restore the public confidence in the political process. There should have been a much longer debate on these issues throughout the country. It is critical after the Maastricht Summit that all responsible opinion ensure that a referendum on these issues will not inadvertently come up with a result that would be disastrous for this country in the future, because so many of our young people are alienated now from the political process, they may use the opportunity of this referendum to express their opinions. There is a real fear that they will use this opportunity in the wrong fashion. They will try to say no to the Establishment while, at the same time, making the dreadful mistake of saying no to European integration, which can ultimately benefit this country.

I hope Maastricht will be a success for Ireland. That is very much the wish of all our people. It can be a success if we go in there with a firmly defined position. I commend our amendment to the House as providing a reasonable and supportive position for the Taoiseach at Maastricht. It is not a negative suggestion but it is something that can only be helpful in negotiations.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. Calleary): I may need a couple of minutes after 4 o'clock and I beg the indulgence of the House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Agreed.

Mr. Calleary: We have come to the conclusion of the second debate in a week in the Oireachtas on the process of European economic and monetary union and of political union. Both debates have been extremely positive in nature and have provided these Houses with the opportunity to explore the issues involved in next week's historic European Council.

I am grateful to all those Senators, from all sides of the House, who have contributed to the debate. I cannot agree [1471] with a comment made by my friend, Senator Staunton when he said the debate was a charade. It was particularly important and welcome that a debate on these issues take place in this House, which has an important consultative function under the Constitution in that it is a forum for different social and economic interests to come together and inform the Government. The many and varied contributions that have been made here over the last two days have been an excellent reflection of that. They were important not just in showing solidarity with the Government's position prior to Maastricht, but also, as Senator Doyle pointed out, in fulfilling an educative function by explaining to the people of this country the scope and implications of the decisions to be taken at Maastricht next Monday and Tuesday.

For Ireland, our principal objective will be to solidify our position in the Community, of which we are a committed member, through pursuing an active and positive role in achieving the goal of a closer union. I can assure Senators Mooney and Staunton and the others that in doing so the Government will ensure that Ireland's national interests are protected.

I feel that the debate over the last two days has been constructive, allowing the Government to go to Maastricht secure that there is considerable and tangible support here in the Oireachtas for the positions taken thus far in the negotiations and those which we will adopt next Monday and Tuesday. The negotiations are not yet over and all delegations, including Ireland, will have to show considerable flexibility and determination to reach agreement.

The road to Maastricht has been long and arduous. This country, together with our EC partners, has expended much energy in a year long process of negotiation and it would be disingenuous to travel to The Netherlands unless it was with the aim of seeking agreement. We have made this abundantly clear in the recent past both in domestic and Community fora. However, agreement [1472] between all Twelve implies that there must be an element of compromise to take account of different — and sometimes conflicting — national interests. This will mean that for some there will be disappointment that the conclusion will not be more imaginative and far-reaching, while others will argue that an erosion of sovereignty has taken place. I do not share these apprehensions.

I feel that it is important to look at the conclusion of these negotiations in a positive light, and ask whether the Community and its member states are better prepared to face the future than they were prior to the opening of the Inter-governmental Conferences? I am confident that this is the case.

We should not forget that the purpose of these two conferences has been to expand the areas of Community competence, to bolster its institutions and to create new frameworks for common action in the areas of foreign policy and home affairs and judicial co-operation.

In setting such an agenda for itself, the Community had to fulfil an obligation not only to its citizens but to its nearest neighbours on the continent of Europe. Increasingly, the actions of the Community have an impact on the whole world. There is admiration for its unique development and success in harnessing the multiplicity of interests of its member states for the good of all. It undoubtedly played an important part in encouraging change in Eastern Europe where it was respected as a model of democratic values, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I strongly believe that a closer relationship with the European Community will facilitate the process of reform which is now taking place in all these countries and will ultimately contribute to greater stability in the area.

It is not a secret that many of these countries aspire to eventual full membership of the European Community. They see their economic and political future being intrinsically bound to that of the European Community. They are already seeking to establish a broad political dialogue with the member states of [1473] the Community through the mechanisms of the European political co-operation process.

In the light of these developments and in the context of the applications for membership already received from Austria, Sweden, Malta, Turkey and Cyprus, it is possible to envisage in the long term a very different Community from that which now exists.

Clearly there are a number of important implications for the present Community before it could develop into a larger assembly of nation states. The whole institutional structure of the Community, the decision taking process and the financial instruments necessary for sustaining the policies of the new Community and for contributing to the economic and social development of all of its regions would have to be reviewed. All of these issues would have to be carefully examined and the implications for the individual member states as well as the Community as a whole would need to be measured. The outcome of Maastricht will provide a basic framework on which a future expanded Community can be built.

I should like to respond to some of the specific issues raised by Senators and I regret that time will not allow me to respond to all of them.

Senators Upton and Staunton claimed that this debate is taking place too close to Maastricht to enable it to have any real purpose or relevance. I must point out that both Houses of the Oireachtas have been informed of the developments during the Intergovernmental Conferences. In addition to a very full debate in the Dáil on 9 July — following a detailed and comprehensive report by the Taoiseach on the outcome of the European Council in Luxembourg — and last week, this House had the opportunity to discuss these issues in their broad context on 20 June and 24 October during the debate on developments in the European Communities.

Ireland has participated actively in these negotiations and, at a crucial stage — this is important — we tabled texts on education, health, culture and economic [1474] and social cohesion. Those issues are of direct concern to the people of this country and are the subject of frequent debates in this House. The Government are aware of the concerns of the Members of both Houses and in preparing their overall negotiating position they took full account of these. We can take some considerable satisfaction from the fact that the proposals we made in the areas I mentioned have been accepted very largely unchanged by our European partners.

Senators O'Toole and McKenna referred to the priority which should be attached to educational policy in the Community. I fully agree with him that this is an area of fundamental importance for the future of the Community. The new provisions of the Treaty will provide the basis for valuable and useful initiatives in the field of education. We will be looking to the Commission to bring forward some imaginative proposals.

Some speakers have voiced a general concern that not enough has been done to develop the social policy of the Community sufficiently to complement the progress being made towards completion of the Internal Market. The Government recognised this and have consistently viewed social policy as one of the key issues under negotiation. For that reason, we insisted, initially with little support, on the overriding need to promote employment. Our tenacity has paid off and there is now a reference to the promotion of employment at the beginning of the chapter on social policy. I note that in the amendments to the Government's motion the question of employment figures largely.

The Government are fully committed to the development of a strong social dimension as part of the overall move towards economic and political integration. We have accordingly participated constructively in the Intergovernmental Conference's deliberations on social policy. Our overall objective is to ensure that the Treaty [1475] framework is conducive to the progressive improvement of employee conditions in an economically sustainable way.

As Senators will be aware, the negotiations on the proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy are separate from the work of the Inter-governmental Conferences. It is accepted by all member states that the mechanisms of the policy have to be adapted to meet the challenge of the changing circumstances in which it now has to operate. Nevertheless, most countries, including Ireland, have major difficulties with aspects of the Commission approach to reform, a matter which was mentioned by Senators Hussey, O'Reilly and others.

It is, of course, vital for Ireland that the capacity of the agriculture and food industry to contribute to continued economic expansion and to the maintenance of the fabric of our rural society is maintained. Senator Raftery alluded to this in his contribution. Our primary objective is, therefore, to ensure that the viability of the more commercial element of our agriculture is not jeopardised and that the income position of smaller-scale and other vulnerable producers is adequately protected. My colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, will continue to pursue these and other important concerns vigorously in the negotiations with a view to securing the optimum result for Irish farmers and for the national economy in general.

Senators have raised many points of detail on European Monetary Union. May I say that the Maastricht Summit will consider the outcome of both Inter-governmental Conferences as a whole and will set in place an overall framework for European Union. We must also look on it in that light, not neglecting of course, the importance of detailed points.

Economic and monetary union is an important part of the whole exercise. It will, as the Minister for Foreign Affaurs stated in his opening speech, be introduced in stages. It will lead to a single currency in the final stage. In 1996 the [1476] European Council will decide on a date for that stage to begin, depending on its assessment of the stage of readiness of the various member states.

Ireland intends to be among those who join the final stage from the beginning. We have been following the necessary budgetary discipline since 1987 and are, therefore, well placed to undertake the obligations and disciplines of European Monetary Union.

Senators raised the question of the dangers of a two-speed Europe that could arise if some member states proceed to the final stage of monetary union before others. This is a very valid point, since the Treaty will certainly provide for the possibility of derogations for countries that may not have fulfilled all the necessary conditions for proceeding to the third stage. However, a derogation is in this case temporary, and the conditions of entry for the countries who derogate would not become more difficult later. We could not accept any situation where a small number of member states could go ahead on their own and then set the conditions on which others could join them.

The question of losing autonomy in economic and monetary policy has been mentioned by many Senators. On economic policy, co-ordination of policies will certainly increase. Disciplines, such as on inflation and budget deficits, will also impose disciplines on us. These are necessary disciplines in any case. They are disciplines we have accepted for some years now. On monetary policy, clearly we will have eventually one currency and, therefore, a single monetary policy, in which, of course, we will have our say.

The question of economic and social cohesion has, rightly, been the subject of comment in the debate. It is, indeed, a very crucial aspect of the negotiations. The text of the draft Treaty contains very much strengthened commitments to the principle of economic and social cohesion, compared with the existing Treaty — improvements based largely on an Irish submission at the beginning of the Intergovernmental Conferences. The [1477] Single European Act introduced significant commitments to cohesion. These were followed in practice by the Delors Plan, and the doubling of the Structural Funds. One can see the concrete evidence of these funds in any part of the country.

We naturally wish to ensure in every way that the commitments of the Treaty will continue to be translated into action. The strengthened Treaty texts and the political commitments that will accompany them will be of major relevance to this effort.

Senators have also remarked that certain other member states are seeking even stronger additional changes in the Treaty to support cohesion. I can assure the House that Ireland has taken as strong and constructive a line as any member state in the negotiations, and we will continue to ensure that the final package contains the elements that are essential from the point of view of this country.

I have heard criticisms on the one hand that we are not firm enough in insisting on cohesion, and, on the other, that we are damaging the image of Ireland by a begging bowl attitude. Neither is true. The phrase “begging bowl” is one I abhor. Cohesion has nothing to do with the concept of a begging bowl. It is simply natural that a Community or union must ensure, for the health and benefit of the whole union, that there is solidarity between the various parts.

Senators Lanigan and Doyle both referred to the fact that after the construction of the Channel Tunnel, Ireland will be the only member state without a direct land crossing to the other member states. As Senator Lanigan said, we will be the most peripheral of the peripheral member states. The Government are fully aware of the economic implications for the country of this and it is one of the arguments that has and continues to be made for a significant increase in infrastructural assistance.

One of the new chapters in the revised Treaty is that known as trans-European networks. This is, I am afraid, a classic [1478] example of the Eurospeak which Senators Doyle and Norris quite rightly dislike. In essence, what it involves is the recognition that in a Single Market in which goods, people, capital and services can move freely, the infrastructures which carry them — energy, transport, telecommunications — should be developed on a European scale sufficient to meet the increased needs of the Internal Market.

We have argued that unless due account of the peripheral nature of certain member states is taken, they will be unable to benefit from the opportunities which the Single Market offers. These concerns were accepted and I am happy to report that specific reference has been made to our needs. If I may quote from the text:

The Community shall take account in particular of the need to link island, landlocked and peripheral regions of the Community.

While the funding of these networks is expected to come chiefly from the private sector, provision will be made for possible Community financial support for projects of common interest. This is an important recognition of the needs of the peripheral parts of the Community. While it will not overcome all the problems we encounter given our geographic location, it is a positive development.

Senator O'Toole raised a question about the use of the word “union” and asked what its relationship to the Community was. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs pointed out in his statement to this House yesterday, the structure of the new Treaty is now made up of three pillars. These are common foreign and security policy, the Community itself and co-operation in the area of home affairs and judicial co-operation. Collectively, all three areas will comprise the union.

Co-operation in the area of home affairs and judicial co-operation has already been taking place between member states at inter-governmental level outside the Community structures. What is now proposed is to intensify the level of co-operation to cover new areas. [1479] including the fight against drugs which was mentioned by Senator Lydon.

Senator Lydon also referred to the question of the right to life. It would, therefore, be appropriate to inform the House that the Government, conscious of the concerns which have been voiced, arising from the expansion of the Community into new areas, about the implications for the provision in the Irish Constitution, which protects the right to life of the unborn, have tabled a Protocol to the draft Treaty on the issue which has been accepted by all other member states. This Protocol will now be attached to the final Treaty and will form an intrinsic and legally binding part of that Treaty. The decisions of the Supreme Court in this regard will thus not be affected. I trust that the inclusion of this Protocol in the new union Treaty will assuage the anxieties which may have been felt by certain members of the public.

In reply to Senator Ryan, I wish to point out that the Government are committed to achieving the UN target of GNP for official development assistance and will make progress towards it as economic and financial circumstances permit. However, it is not realistic, given our current circumstances, to expect that it can be reached quickly. In addition, I wish to remind the House and Senator Ryan that under the revised Programme for Government, we are committed to a planned programme of increases in Ireland's official development aid in the period 1992-94, so as to achieve a higher ODA/GNP contribution by the end of that period. I am sure Senator Ryan will not object to the inclusion in the new Treaty of a reference to development association.

Several Senators have referred to our policy on defence and security issues and the implications in the draft Treaty for our traditional positions. I agree that it is important to be clear about this. The new Union Treaty will strengthen Community co-operation on foreign policy and security matters, but it will be inter-governmental co-operation based on unanimity for all policy issues. The text [1480] under negotiation does not include a mutual defence commitment, nor would it oblige us to join a military alliance.

Senator Norris said he did not want Ireland to be a member of NATO. Nothing in the European Union Treaty would oblige us to do so. In addition, the draft on the table recognises our specific traditional position on security and defence matters in line with the agreement negotiated by the Taoiseach at the second Rome Summit last year.

Senator Murphy asked whether a future common defence policy would require another negotiation. The answer is yes. Another negotiation would be required to define any common defence policy for the European Union. The Treaty makes a distinction between the long term and the short term. So far as future security is concerned, the proposal in the draft text is that the formulation of a common defence policy is for a later date. This would be taken up in new negotiations in five or six years time. The nature and scope of that policy would be something to be negotiated then. We would participate in these negotiations in line with our long standing commitment to our partners, but the outcome would have to be agreed unanimously.

Senator Lydon and others asked about a European Army. It is important to distinguish between ideas put forward by certain countries for consideration bilaterally or in other organisations of which Ireland is not a member, and what is under negotiation in the European Union. I am glad to be able to clarify this point. The question of a European Army is not under negotiation in the Inter-Governmental Conference. What has sometimes been referred to as a European Army are proposals by France and Germany to strengthen and expand their own joint military co-operation that already exists but that is for those two countries themselves. It does not involve the new European Union.

Senator Lydon also asked whether there would be nuclear weapons on Irish soil. The answer again is no. The new Union Treaty will not involve military obligations of this kind. Ireland has long [1481] called for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. It is a fundamental part of our policy on disarmament and it will continue to be. We shall continue to press in all relevant organisations for the complete and total abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Here I want to make a broader point which responds to points raised by several Senators. What the new Treaty will do is to provide a framework for strengthened co-operation and action between the members of the Community on foreign and security policy. The content of that policy is something that will be defined by unanimity in the years to come on the basis of the general objectives set out in the Treaty.

As in the past, Ireland will bring to these discussions and to the formulation of union policies values and approaches that have always guided our approach to international issues. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has listed some of them — our belief that security is wider than defence, our belief in diplomacy and negotiation as a means of resolving disputes, our support for the rule of international law and our support for the UN and UN peace-keeping.

Senator Honan, in her thoughtful contribution, referred to our Irishness. She is right. Senator Rory Kiely also referred to this. Europe presents no threat to our Irishness. On the contrary, I believe our full and committed participation in the Community and in the European Union will allow the fullest expression of our sovereignty in co-operation with our European partners. Does anyone seriously believe that a French man or woman will be any less French, or an Italian any less Italian, or a Dane any less Danish — or, dare I say it, a Mayoman any less a Mayoman because of membership? Of course not.

[1482] We live in an inter-dependent world. In trade, money and international affairs, countries must co-operate and work together if they are to promote their interests and prosper. We should not forget that the ideal of the founders of the Community was to bring their political and economic co-operation to a point when the wars that had scarred Europe twice within a generation would be unthinkable. We have a vital interest in this. This is sometimes lost sight of in the minutiae of negotiations and discussions. I believe that our best interests are being served in closer integration and in co-operation with our European partners. The new European Union will take us a further step in that process.

I commend the motion to the House.

Mr. Manning: Before the vote is taken may I very briefly thank the Minister for an extremely detailed, comprehensive and serious reply to the queries which were raised. We do not agree with everything he said but at least he has taken the trouble to reply in a very detailed way. For that he is to be commended.

Mr. B. Ryan: I know it is out of order, but may I be associated with those remarks? The Minister has always treated this House with great respect. Whatever I might say — and I might enjoy interrupting and heckling him — I compliment him again for the thoroughness of his reply.

Dr. Upton: I also join with the sentiments that have been expressed.

Mr. Calleary: I thank Members for their kind remarks. I also enjoy interrupting and answering back.

Amendment put.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 28.

Cosgrave, Liam.

Doyle, Avril.

Hederman, Carmencita.

Hourigan, Richard V.

[1483]Ó Foighil, Pol.

O'Reilly, Joe.

Kennedy, Patrick.

McDonald, Charlie.

Manning, Maurice.

Naughten, Liam.

[1484]Ross, Shane P.N.

Staunton, Myles.

Níl

Bennett, Olga.

Byrne, Hugh.

Conroy, Richard.

Costello, Joe.

Dardis, John.

Fallon, Sean.

Farrell, Willie.

Fitzgerald, Tom.

Foley, Denis.

Haughey, Seán F.

Honan, Tras.

Hussey, Thomas.

Keogh, Helen.

Kiely, Dan.

Kiely, Rory.

Lanigan, Michael.

McCarthy, Seán.

McKenna, Tony.

Mooney, Paschal.

Mullooly, Brian.

Ó Cuív, Éamon.

O'Donovan, Denis A.

O'Keeffe, Batt.

Ryan, Brendan.

Ryan, Eoin David.

Ryan, John.

Upton, Pat.

Wright, G.V.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Cosgrave and O'Reilly; Níl, Senators Wright and Fitzgerald.

Amendment declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: Before I deal with amendment No. 1 I would like the House to be aware of the presence of His Excellency, the Dutch Ambassador, who has paid a tribute to the House and to this debate by being present yesterday and today.

Dr. Upton: I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “December” and substitute the following:

“deplores the failure of the Government to provide a mechanism for debate, and the Government's opposition to the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Committee and European Affairs Committee of the Oireachtas and failure to make available to the public a White Paper on the framework of the issue involved at the Maastricht Summit, now calls on the Government to ensure the following:—

noting the failure of the Community to address the alarming levels of unemployment and poverty in member states and the need for job creation at Community and national levels;

further noting the failures of existing measures of cohesion and the widening of gaps between richer and poorer regions of the Community;

demands that any new treaty contain specific commitments to an industrial strategy, and effective social programme, adequate regionalisation and such measures in relation to Common Agricultural Policy as will guarantee the future viability of farm families and rural development;

asserts the coterminous nature of the integrated market and provisions of the Social Charter;

opposes any diminution of Irish State budgetary and policy measures as would enhance employment creation, reduce unemployment or redistribute income;

demands that any proposals for an EC Central Bank be preceded by directive principles of job creation and income convergence at Community and national levels, and further demands that such a Central Bank and its policies be subjected to strict political accountability by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament;

calls on the Government to ensure that Ireland's national interest be [1485] protected in any changed balance of powers between the institutions of the Community;

and demands that any development in security, foreign, and defence policy be on such terms as are consistent with Ireland's obligation to [1486] the UN and CSCE and opposes any involvement by Ireland in military structures derived from NATO or the Western European Union.”

Mr. Costello: I second the amendment.

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 4.

Bennett, Olga.

Byrne, Hugh.

Conroy, Richard.

Dardis, John.

Fallon, Seán.

Farrell, Willie.

Fitzgerald, Tom.

Foley, Denis.

Haughey, Seán F.

Honan, Tras.

Hussey, Thomas.

Keogh, Helen.

Kiely, Dan.

Kiely, Rory.

Lanigan, Michael.

McCarthy, Seán.

McKenna, Tony.

Mooney, Paschal.

Mullooly, Brian.

O'Donovan, Denis A.

O'Keeffe, Batt.

Ryan, Eoin David.

Wright, G.V.

Níl

Costello, Joe.

Ryan, Brendan.

Ryan, John.

Upton, Pat.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Wright and Fitzgerald; Níl, Senators Upton and Costello.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: The question is: “That the motion be agreed to.” Will the Senators who are claiming a division please rise?

Five or more Senators stood.

An Cathaoirleach: The division will proceed.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 27; Níl, 4.

Bennett, Olga.

Byrne, Hugh.

Conroy, Richard.

Cosgrave, Liam.

Dardis, John.

Fallon, Seán.

Farrell, Willie.

Fitzgerald, Tom.

Foley, Denis.

Haughey, Seán F.

Honan, Tras.

Hussey, Thomas.

Keogh, Helen.

Kiely, Dan.

Kiely, Rory.

Lanigan, Michael.

McKenna, Tony.

Manning, Maurice.

Mooney, Paschal.

Mullooly, Brian.

Naughten, Liam.

O'Donovan, Denis A.

O'Keeffe, Batt.

O'Reilly, Joe.

Ross, Shane P.N.

Ryan, Eoin David.

Wright, G.V.

Níl

Costello, Joe.

Ryan, Brendan.

Ryan, John.

Upton, Pat.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Fitzgerald and Wright; Níl, Senators Costello and Upton.

[1487] Question declared carried.

An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?

Mr. Fallon: On Wednesday next at 2.30 p.m.