Seanad Éireann - Volume 149 - 29 October, 1996

Address by Commissioner Neil Kinnock.

An Cathaoirleach: It is my great pleasure and honour on behalf of the Members of Seanad Éireann to welcome the Rt. Hon. Neil Kinnock to Seanad Éireann and to thank him for accepting our invitation to address the House today.

Before his prestigious appointment to membership of the Commission, our distinguished guest earned a special place in the political hearts and minds of his own people. He was first elected to Parliament in 1970 and was Leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992. Having served the Labour Party and the people of Great Britain with honour and distinction, today his portfolio in Europe is as Commissioner with responsibility for transport, including the trans-European network.

His Excellency, Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, in his address to Dáil Éireann on 2 October 1996 emphasised the need for the new Europe in which we share to be based on foundations of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, stability and prosperity. Central to the success of the European Union, and even more so for an enlarged Union, is transport, and Commissioner Kinnock's portfolio gives him a special insight [107] into the infrastructural transport demands of an evolving Union.

Commissioner Kinnock, your task is not easy and you have our heartfelt best wishes for success in your responsibilities. At present, Ireland is approximately half way through its Presidency of the Council and the House fully appreciates the major policy issues which confront the member states in the immediate future and that these issues call for much political skill, vision and resolve on the part of our political leaders and Community institutions. Therefore, it is our prayer that wisdom and prudence will inform whatever decisions are taken regarding the future shape and direction of the Union. It is my privilege to invite Commissioner Kinnock to address the House on the enlargement of the Union.

Commissioner Kinnock: A Chathaoirligh, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an enormous privilege to be invited to address this distinguished House. I am conscious of its history and that this, apparently, is only the second occasion on which the House has permitted somebody the privilege of addressing its Members in this fashion. My feelings of humility and pride are even stronger than they would be in other circumstances.

I am also intrigued by the fact that here I am speaking to an Upper House of a Parliament in the English language especially since your counterpart in the United Kingdom is a House which I, in common with many other politicians, spent the first half of my political life trying to abolish and may in the second half of my political life seek to join. Things change.

Enlargement, as I hope I will make clear, has immense implications for the current Union, the countries seeking membership of the Union and consequently the entire continent. As epitomised yet again in the course of a very efficient and effective Presidency, this Republic is central not only to the activity of the Union but its thinking. Without flattery and with complete accuracy, it must be said that no member country of the Union in its political institutions and among its people so faithfully carries forward not just the day to day reality and obligation of Union membership but the spirit of community in the Union. This may be, of course, evidence of a deeper character of the people of Ireland, or it may be the success in adaptation to fresh political challenges. Whichever it is, I hope the spirit engendered in and by this country in the Community eventually becomes endemic because it should act as a benevolent, communicable antidote to disease in one or two other corners of the Union that suffer from rather more cynicism and rather less effectiveness than does this country.

In my conversations ten days ago in an official visit I made to Cyprus in my capacity as Transport Commissioner, repeated emphasis was [108] given to the critical link between joining the European Union and finding a political solution to the agonies of that island where so many Irish soldiers have served with distinction in the United Nations forces over the years of division. Ten days before that, the Transport Ministers of the central and Eastern European countries that are applying for Union membership repeated their countries' wish to join the Union in order to consolidate the modernisation of their political and civil institutions, to underpin the new democracies and bring fresh opportunities to their businesses and peoples.

For all those applicant countries the benefits of accession could be very substantial. With membership, they will have access to the Single Market and opportunities in world markets on terms negotiated by the Union. They will have closer cultural and social links with other European peoples, the prospect of increased financial and technical support, participation in powerful, well established and stable institutions and the opportunity to influence the actions and decisions made by the world's largest trading bloc, the European Union.

The existing Union members also have much to gain — bigger and growing barrier free markets for capital goods and expertise, greater opportunities for the movement of people and the prospect of an even stronger European voice in the councils of the world. Above all, and this is in the interests of every country, enlargement could secure liberty and stability right across this continent for the first time in history. In our generation, the prospect of gaining those objectives is moving from one of idealistic desire to practical reality.

The task of preparing the existing Union and the applicant countries for enlargement is, of course, huge and, to any sensible person, daunting. Despite the welcome enthusiasm for progress, it must be carried out in the most careful and systematic way in order to ensure minimum disruptions and maximum benefits. The applicant countries are responding to the challenge by making the huge structural and political changes that are necessary to comply with the preconditions set down by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993. Those relate in particular to the creation of stable institutions which guarantee democracy, civil liberties and the rights of minorities. A further precondition is the establishment of market economies able to compete within the Union and, of course, there is the precondition that they are able to take on the obligations of membership.

The scale of the task of the applicant countries is — I make accurate use of a word that is often used inaccurately — historic. Average GDP in the ten potential member states of central and Eastern Europe is estimated currently to be about 30 per cent of the European Union average, whereas that of the four so-called cohesion states, of which Ireland is one, is now just under 75 per cent of the same average. [109] Ireland's GDP is, of course, way above that figure.

It is obvious that there is a great deal of catching up to do among the candidate countries. Even if the ten potential member states were to enjoy annual economic growth rates that were 5 per cent per year in excess of the average arrangements between the European Union and the candidate countries. Obviously that is an achieved by the European Union it would take them over ten years to reach 50 per cent of the EU average and 16 years to achieve 75 per cent of the Union average. The speed and quality of development differs between the ten applicant states and, therefore, while it is convenient to speak of them as a grouping for the general purposes of describing their performance gap that is clearly not the basis on which their individual capacity to become members will be assessed when the possibility of admission comes to be considered.

While those countries are striving to achieve advances which would satisfy the conditions set at successive European Councils, the Union is following the pre-accession strategy outlined in the Essen summit in December 1994. It has implemented the structured dialogue between the associated states and the institutions and ministries of the European Union and it is working with the candidate states to ensure adjustment in three practical ways. It is offering technical and financial assistance through the FAR programme which provides about 1 billion ECU per year to the Eastern and central European countries and the Baltic states. In addition the European Investment Bank, together with some member states and other international financial institutions are investing significant sums.

The second adjustment mechanism is through the gradual integration of the associated states into the day to day work of the Union. I will give an instance. This year I established a Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment, or TINA, as everything has to have an acronym in the European Union. I sat next to a man at a lunch some months ago and had a very interesting conversation with him. On his card at the table were written the four letters “LODZ” and I wondered what on earth that stood for. I tried to work it out and thought of “Logistical Organisational Development Zone”. Then I realised it was the name of the transport Minister of Hungary.

I established this infrastructure needs assessment, or TINA, as a joint initiative based on the recognition that for enlargement to generate maximum benefit for all of Europe, the development of safe, efficient, environmentally friendly transport between all the member states of an enlarged Union is absolutely fundamental. The contacts and the development taking place through that process is, of course, a natural and practical means of ensuring the operation of effective adjustment between the way in which they run their affairs and meet their needs and [110] the way in which we are seeking to meet our needs and run our affairs.

The third adjustment activity is taking place through the negotiation of market access arrangements between the European Union and the candidate countries. Obviously that is an essential accompaniment to the applicant countries' action to align their legislation with ours and it is an area where the Union must show imagination and generosity if the ideals of enlargement are to become a reality. In my sector, we have a liberalisation agreement on inland waterways, a mandate to begin the process of liberalising road haulage, which is of crucial importance to the central European states, and a couple of weeks ago in the Transport Council, largely thanks to the efforts of the Irish Presidency, I was granted a mandate to negotiate a civil aviation agreement with the countries of central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

In all of these areas practical development is taking place. There is always a connection between access to our market and the achievement and maintenance of high standards of personal and environmental safety, again propelling forward the achievement of modern and efficient conditions.

These are useful beginnings although it has to be said that market access is one area in which the rhetoric of enlargement, colourful though it is, sometimes starts to come into collision with the lack of sufficient political will in some quarters to turn the objective of integration into reality. When the commercial interests of the applicant states start to bite, or seem to bite, into the commercial market of some of the member states, you will start to hear the squeals of pain even before the bites are felt.

Clearly that has to improve because if business and trade are not encouraged as a gradual but sustained process in the associated states, then the development of strong market economies able to compete in an enlarged market will simply not take place with the speed or on the scale that is necessary. In addition to the action being taken by the associated states and jointly between the existing Community and the applicant members, the Community must obviously evolve ways that, in future, facilitate the increase in membership. Clearly, that must involve changes in custom and practice, challenges to established interests and political and economic adjustments that will sometimes be uncomfortable. My watchword as I anticipate all of that and the potential for disruption and agreement is from a Woody Guthrie song: “Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on”.

Preparations for change are, of course, under way. The first focus of effort is in the current intergovernmental conference. The Commission made clear in its opinion to the Intergovernmental Conference that if there was to be successful enlargement, three crucial issues would have to be addressed. First, the institutional implications of having an increased number of [111] member states; clearly there has to be balance and adequate representation of the new member states — indeed, of all member states — and of their population in the voting arrangements in the Council. There also has to be a representative electoral procedure for Members of the European Parliament.

Second, existing decision making procedures which require unanimity could frequently result in stalemate in an enlarged Union. We, therefore, need to move to a situation where qualified majority is the general if not the universal rule.

Third, we need to tackle the sensitive but important issue of flexibility. Thought needs to go into developing a system in which some member states can move ahead faster in some fields without undermining the political and economic fundamentals of the Union and without weakening the cohesion between member states. The Commission has already made it clear that, after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference, we will present a number of major documents to prepare for enlargement in line with the conclusion of the recent European summits of Madrid and Florence.

First, we will submit separate opinions on the application for accession from each of the individual candidate countries. Second, we will present a general document setting out a comprehensive approach to the whole enlargement issue. In doing this, we will make a detailed assessment of the impact of Union policies in such areas as agriculture and structural and cohesion funds. Clearly these are issues of direct and great significance to this country. Most importantly, the Commission will have to incorporate the dimension of future enlargement into proposals for the future financing of the EU.

The formal opinions that we produce will need to provide much more than a photograph of the applicant's current situation. There will have to be a realistic assessment of the progress they can expect to make before accession, taking account of the evolution of the Union's acquis and of the changing situation in the applicant countries. In preparing the opinions, the Commission clearly has to respect the injunction of the Madrid Council to ensure that the applicant countries are treated on an equal basis and that each country will be considered on its own merits in a scrupulously objective way without prejudging the results of the assessment. The recommendations in each opinion will naturally have to depend on the situation and prospects of the country concerned.

The task of adapting Union policies meanwhile will obviously involve significant changes that would have to be made, in many respects, even without the prospects of enlargement and most certainly have to be made when the prospect of a Union of 20 to 30 states in the next decades is contemplated.

The imperative for reforming the Common Agricultural Policy, for example, reflects the need [112] to compete successfully and fairly in world markets, the need to enable developing countries to improve their agricultural sectors and trading prospects, the requirement to reduce fraud and waste, the obligation to ensure low food prices for Community consumers and the food industry and the requirement that spending be focused on these areas and on the groups most in need of assistance. These are all good reasons in themselves for continuing the reform process.

In its agricultural strategy paper to the Madrid Council last year, the Commission concluded that the 1992 CAP reform process begun by Mr. Ray McSharry had to continue with sustained and gradual movement toward more market orientated policies with reduced reliance on price support, greater integration of environmental concerns and development of a broader based rural policy to maximise the cohesion effects of the agricultural policy. It goes without saying that the necessary adjustments to the agricultural sector have to be carried out in an orderly, methodical manner which protects the proper interests of rural communities and gives ground for confidence to the farmers themselves about the future.

In addition to agriculture, the Union's policy on economic and social cohesion will also have to be closely scrutinised. The Commission is setting the scene for future discussions by publishing the first three-yearly report on the progress toward achieving cohesion as required by the Maastricht Treaty. The report centres on current and past trends in cohesion and how member states and the EU's policies contribute to reducing the gaps in social and economic development. Against this backdrop we will have to assess what enlargement will imply in terms of future development policies and in funding effort as well as the need for a process of transition towards a new policy and financial framework that will involve progressive integration of the new member states and appropriate adjustment of the cohesion effort within the existing member states.

Some of the enormous sums that have been postulated as being necessary to fund cohesion in an enlarged Union are clearly completely unrealistic. The absorption capacity of funds of any state is not infinite. Funds made available to new members will be limited by the amounts they can use, the amounts they can co-finance and the amounts the Union can afford. The disparities across the enlarged Union are likely to be large. Figures I gave earlier demonstrate that clearly.

There will be an urgent need to attack the major structural problems of some of the new member states alongside continuing efforts within existing member states to promote cohesion and the closing of economic and social gaps. If the Union is convinced of the effectiveness of its cohesion effort within the existing Union, there is every reason to think that cohesion policies will occupy a substantial place in the objectives and the budget of a Union which will ultimately be an [113] economic and monetary union as well as the form of union we have now.

It is essential to emphasise that support to regional development and social regeneration are not sweeteners to the disadvantaged. This is a view I hold with particular passion because of where I come from and the knowledge I have of the way in which the funds provided from the European Union and from taxpayers throughout the remainder of the United Kingdom have assisted in securing a transition from one culture and structure of economic development to a completely different structure and culture of economic development in my homeland of Wales. I deeply resent, therefore, the representation of fiscal transfers, cohesion funds, Structural Funds and so on, made in some quarters as some kind of first aid system for wounded economies. Those transfers are fundamentally necessary if we are to sustain in anything more than the wildest rhetoric the idea of a balanced, cohesive Community that is advancing together and enjoying mutual opportunities in that strength.

The support mechanisms and the structural and cohesion funds are crucial for wider economic development, strengthening the periphery, decongesting the centre, controlling costs, combating and preventing unemployment and for achieving greater competitiveness in a union of economies in a single economic area. One thing is certain: a defensive, introverted attitude to enlargement will bring weakness. Those who take the view that enlargement will inevitably deprive assisted areas of support are defeatist and wrong. I hear the voices, not in a rising crescendo, but more frequently than I did four or five years ago. The reason they are wrong and defeatist is straightforward. This generation is the first in the history of this fragmented and war torn continent to get the chance to create a level of economic and political interdependence from east to west and north to south that will offer an unprecedented guarantee against despotism and strife in a continent that has had a surfeit of both, even in recent times. That opportunity for this generation must be taken.

Enlargement to include countries that have seriously under-developed economies and systems of management and administration cannot be a great and glorious leap of faith inspired simply by political will. Some would even have us think that all the difficulties can be eradicated or at least sufficiently obscured if we only have the political determination. Life anywhere, including in the European Union, is not like that. The process, therefore, must be gradual, measured and deliberate but absolutely determined and certain. Both the condition of the member countries and, even more, the state of the potential member states require that we take that determined but gradualist view.

Recognising that reality does not diminish in any way the belief that enlargement can and will [114] be a mutual advantage, a fresh opportunity and a historic necessity. With the collapse of the communist bloc in Europe we are confronted by the need to develop and apply new concepts of security. There are obvious and changed sources of insecurity such as economic deprivation, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion, extremism, racism and evironmental degradation. There is a danger that the marginalisation of social groups and regions can give rise to fear, intolerance and conflict. In the European Union and in the countries of central and eastern Europe there is a widespread recognition of those realities which gives a sense of urgency to the need for enlargement. Our response must be imaginative and practical for there is acute awareness that enlargement must not, in its very act of application, lead to new strains, tensions, resentments and rivalries.

Speaking in Finland last month the Tánaiste said that what Europe will become tomorrow depends to a large extent on what happens in the next few years in central and eastern Europe. For that reason, enlargement which is both a challenge and an opportunity for Europe, must be a focus of all policies in the Union. In practical recognition of the fact that enlargement will enhance stability and confidence throughout the continent, your Government rightly made preparation for that development a priority for its Presidency. I commend the strenuous efforts of Ministers and civil servants for that objective. That energy must be maintained.

As the deliberations, which inevitably will sometimes be heated and hard, proceed, one reality must be remembered above all others. Just seven years ago, before the Iron Curtain crumbled, many western European countries were paying a huge proportion of their national wealth to ensure that the anticipated threat from an unfree and undemocratic eastern Europe was contained and deterred. As those same nations are striving to sustain and strengthen their new freedom and democracy in the most demanding economic conditions, western Europe must see the practical advantage of investing a much smaller part of its wealth in fostering those advances. There is not a family, firm, city or country in Europe, east and west and north and south, that will not benefit from the serenity that can be achieved by such partnership. We can attain that if we work for it and, because we can, we must.

An Cathaoirleach: Thank you, Commissioner. I remind Senators that they now have an opportunity to ask questions and I ask them to be brief as a number of Members are offering.

Mr. Wright: On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party I extend a special welcome to the Commissioner. As a member of the committee who welcomed him, I made it my business to find out more about his love of rugby and choral singing. I made inquiries from my colleagues in the Leinster [115] rugby union. To a man they said they were glad, having seen the Commissioner referee for London Welsh, he stayed in politics. With regard to the Commissioner's singing ability, I was assured that he is very welcome in Kitty O'Shea's public house.

On a serious note, I wish to make three points. I come from a constituency which includes Dublin Airport and is affected by the major debate on the Luas project. Ireland is the only island nation in the EU and I ask the Commissioner and his colleagues to bear that in mind in the many decisions to be made about resources. In economic and social terms it is extremely important for us to have a level playing pitch with regard to transport costs.

We welcome the Commissioner's support for the Aer Lingus restructuring programme. The Commissioner is very much involved in the deregulation of airlines and so forth. What plans has the EU to deregulate air traffic control?

As regards light rail and Luas, I ask the Commissioner, as his colleagues have done recently, to stay loyal to the fight. The resources are now available and there is a social and economic need for light rail and rail transport to be extended north of the Liffey.

Mr. Manning: I also welcome Commissioner Kinnock. This is only the second occasion we have had a distinguished visitor speak to us and on each occasion it has been on European matters. It would be better if I did not refer to Welsh rugby at present. We will wait for the regeneration to take place before we discuss it.

On the enlargement of the Union, a good example of enlargement in practice was the accession of Eastern Germany, which had all of the economic conditions and political culture of the countries we are now planning to absorb. In the current enlargement, what are the lessons we should learn from what happened in East Germany?

Mr. O'Toole: I extend congratulations to the Commissioner on a wide ranging speech. I agree with him on total enlargement. Ireland has a significant problem as it is the only island State. Infrastructural changes have taken place, particularly since the implementation of the Cecchini report, which mean that politicians and those involved in business, trade unions, services and any Europe wide movement, are at a disadvantage living in this country. The cost of travelling from Dublin to Brussels puts every business person, trade unionist, educationalist and politician who is travelling on business at a disadvantage.

We are now reaching the end of this round of Structural Funds and we are looking to the future. Unless the Commissioner will consider having a tunnel under that other island between us and Europe, he might give some consideration to how Europe would view a subsidy on the [116] transportation costs between this country and the golden triangle at the centre of Europe. We are, and will be, at a considerable disadvantage.

Mr. Dardis: On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I welcome the Commissioner and thank him for his address. I apologise for being late, as I have come from a lively discussion on regional policy, organised by the Institute of European Affairs. Arising from that discussion, I am interested to hear the Commissioner's view as to how we widen the Community in terms of its enlargement and deepen it in terms of its institutions. It will become increasingly difficult to deal with the institutional side in terms of countries we expect to join us. I was going to ask the Commissioner whether he thought J.P.R. Williams hit Mike Gibson late in whatever year it was but we will not go back that far.

Mr. Manning: He did.

Mr. Dardis: Perhaps the Commissioner can also tell us how Neath beat Ulster last Saturday because I still do not understand how they did it.

Ms O'Sullivan: On behalf of the Labour Party, I welcome Commissioner Kinnock. As I live in Limerick City, I would be happy to talk rugby with him because we have a fine record. As he may be aware, Munster recently defeated the Wasps in Thomond Park in Limerick where we also defeated the All Blacks.

I am pleased the Commissioner gave us his thoughts on social cohesion. He referred to the fact it is not just a sweetener but is very much a central aspect of enlargement.

There is a conflict between meeting the economic requirements of GDP for the ten countries and the requirement to maintain social cohesion and not to create a greater gap between the haves and the have-nots. I am concerned about the time leading up to their entry, rather than afterwards and the dilemma Ireland has in relation to European Monetary Union. It is a particular dilemma for countries that are trying to fulfil the economic requirements for joining the EU. Is the EU monitoring this matter and assisting in maintaining social cohesion prior to the various countries fulfilling the economic requirements for joining the EU?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh ár gcuirteoir as an Bhreatain Bhig agus roimh an onóir a thug sé duinn bheith in ár measc inniú. As a fellow Celt, the Commissioner is particularly welcome. The Celtic language is our common expression which I know the EU greatly treasures, and will make him feel even more at home, despite some of the things that have been said about Welsh rugby.

I want to comment on three separate elements of the Commissioner's comprehensive address. As a former Member of the college, I am happy to have the opportunity of learning the update on [117] policies the Commissioner is proposing and developing at this point.

I am sure the library of the Berlaymont is well stocked with reports such as the Ortoli report, the Tindemans' report, that of the Committee of the Three Wise Men and others which addressed the institutional implications of enlargement at various times. Ireland greatly treasures the Commission as the guardian of the treaties and the initiator of so much which has been positive for Europe. The constant theme running through those reports was that each member state should have one Commissioner. I would like the Commissioner's observations on the views of the Commission on this issue. As he pointed out, as the Union enlarges, it will not be possible to maintain the current situation. I would like a reassurance that the Commission in examining this will veer towards reducing the number of Commissioners. There are now two Commissioners for each member state, which runs contrary to what we hear in reports about reducing the number of Commissioners from the smaller member states.

I had responsibility for administration and personnel in the Commission. It is clear that even now approximately 60 per cent of the time and resources of the Commission are devoted to translation and linguistics. Is the Commission thinking of reducing the number of working languages as distinct from official languages? The marathon sessions of the Council of Agriculture I suffered for almost five years are mostly like that because of the time it takes to translate the documents into all the working languages. Has the Commission any view on the institutional reform of this area?

I suppose cohesion would be the latter day translation for convergence, which was a term brought into vogue by Commissioner Kinnock's distinguished former colleague in the British Labour Party and former President of the Commission, Lord Jenkins. With any enlargement, the states at the centre, such as Germany, Holland, Belgium and probably France, gained inevitably by being at the centre of the market in terms of the freeing of trade and access to markets. That has been the pattern which we welcomed but the balance to that in those days was what was called the convergent policies of applying economic benefits to the infrastructural development on which Commissioner Kinnock has dwelt at very reassuring length. Will the Commissioner assure me that the same twin track approach will be pursued now in that Germany, which we admire greatly, is bound to benefit considerably from an enlargement towards countries which are much closer to it as distinct even from Spain, Greece and Portugal?

I was touched by Commissioner Kinnock's reference to the different Europe and the security situation. It is true, of course, and it is something we endorse and support. He mentioned the reduction in expenditure on security. Is the [118] Commission giving serious thought to the scandal of the armaments industry in Europe? It may be significant to member states' financial security but it is causing havoc and suffering throughout the world as we speak. Does the Commission see a direct role for itself in that regard?

An Cathaoirleach: Six questions have been asked and I propose to ask Commissioner Kinnock to reply. A number of other Senators have questions and we will try to facilitate everybody.

Commissioner Kinnock: I suppose it was inevitable, as a Welshman attending this distinguished House, that I should come in for a degree of mockery about the recent performance of Welsh Rugby Football team. We take it in good heart. As I had occasion to say again this year when I was in Dublin for the match, we can take generous and poetic instruction from the irish Rugby Football Union which has graced the bottom place in the table on more than one occasion with such elegance and passion that there have been occasions when we were top of that table year after year that I almost envied the Irish. Now we are getting a taste of it.

I will say on behalf of my very good friend, J. P. R. Williams, that he was late in his tackle on Mike Gibson but he got there as soon as he could. It also must be said that there would be a fundamental error if anyone thought I had ever refereed for London Welsh. It may have been that opponents of London Welsh from time to time thought I was refereeing for them but I assure the House I was not. At least, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

To respond to the questions raised, first, I am immensely encouraged by the Dublin Transportation Initiative. I spoke about it earlier this afternoon because it connects with both the philosophy and the practical approach which the Commission sought to apply in the Green Paper Citizen's Network. What is really encouraging is the fact that here is a city and country directly tackling the practical problems of congestion and developing blueprints and a practical proposal for escaping from what otherwise will be transport thrombosis in this city with devastating effects on commerce, the economy and employment. That is the fate which awaits many European cities if they do not undertake the kind of development which is proposed in the DTI.

A critical part of that is the light rail system and, while it must be for Ireland and Dublin to determine the order of events to meet the various pressures of various problems, it is also clear that part of the scheme over the years must include effective connection to the airport in Swords, County Dublin, simply because what is now determining the efficiency of civil aviation, which is even more critical for connection to Ireland than many other parts of the Union, is not the infrastructure, it is the ground infrastructure. In many parts of the Union a person can travel 500 [119] miles in an hour, which is roughly the time it takes to travel the last five miles to or from the airport, especially when there is heavy traffic. If we wish to avert the absolute nonsense of that imbalance of transport inefficiency, then clearly among the other purposes of effective local networks, including those to the south and west of Dublin, thought must be, and is being, given to that connection to the northern suburbs and on to the airport.

Second, Aer Lingus has done extremely well because it met all the conditions set by the European Commission at the time of application for State aid. It has gone through a huge restructuring, including the divestment of part of its operations, and even the area of Aer Lingus which gave cause for grave concern, that is, the TEAM Aer Lingus maintenance subsidiary, has started to come into its own. I give full credit for that.

The requirement, of course, is that Aer Lingus can compete fairly and that is one of the reasons, especially having gone through the travail which the company and its workforce has gone through, I am so insistent when other countries and companies elsewhere in the EU make application for permission for their Governments to provide state aids, I make it clear to them that the least I expect from them and the least I will accept from them is that they show the same fastidiousness in meeting conditions as Aer Lingus did. It is not always easy to persuade them to do that but we are achieving success and I am very confident that by the end of my term as Transport Commissioner at the end of 1999 there will be no further state aids allocated in the civil aviation sector in the European Single Market. We are working our way through them. The last application has been received by Alitalia, which never made an application before. Once we have dealt with that the line will be drawn, apart from those particular routes which will never be commercial and must be maintained for the purposes of social cohesion, access to islands and remote areas, etc. State aids will always be allowable in a measured amount in those cases for the social purposes but we will see the end of them as a general provision. Aer Lingus will benefit from that but clearly it must compete with rivals from other sources. I will come to that in a moment.

So far as air traffic control is concerned, we have put forward a comprehensive but very practical proposal for the reorganisation and reform of air traffic management and control in the European Union. The airlines and many of the people who work in the civil aviation industry are on our side. The users are very definitely on our side and some of the member states, including Ireland, show a progressive and intelligent attitude towards reform. However, that does not apply to all member states. I am persuaded that when one is at 31,000 feet and the captain of the aircraft says the turbulence one is [120] experiencing is due to meteorological conditions, he is telling lies. What one is actually doing when one bounces around at 31,000 feet is crossing the borders of sovereignty into another member state. That can be the only real explanation for the amount of fuss some member states are still making about the way in which their independence and sovereignty would be compromised if they were to participate in the operation of a single air traffic management area for the whole of the European Union.

The change must come and the sooner, the better. It will benefit every air traveller in terms of less congestion, delay and cost.

Congestion and cost amount to about 10 per cent or 11 per cent of final costs for air travel in the European Union. With increased congestion, better management of an organised area is necessary for safety reasons. This is one of the safest parts of the world in which to fly. That is a credit to the quality of controllers and pilots operating in the European Union. However, that task becomes more demanding every day as congestion builds up so reform is necessary for that purpose as well.

On the question of what lessons might be learned from the unification of Germany, the answer is few. The reason is that this was the unification of a country which always existed as constituted post war. Therefore, the people of the western lander of Germany connected nationally and in familial terms with the lander of east Germany even during the years of totalitarian rule. They wanted and were willing to underpin the costs of unification which was done with dramatic speed and at substantial cost. In making the Deutsche Mark the universal currency and providing a parity of one to one with the so-called Ostmark, there were bound to be huge pressures on the economy.

What is being proposed in terms of enlargement of the European Union is not as dramatic nor does it have the same potential for pressure. What we understand more graphically, possibly it was understood before, is that there must be substantial investment in terms of skills and physical and technical infrastructure if the incoming parts of Europe are to stand a real chance of competing. That is the reason I make the point that we must be imaginative and generous in our attitude to the preparation for and the follow through of enlargement. If we are to learn anything from the unification of Germany it is that if the receivers, the hosts as it were, are not prepared to make generous provision for the newcomers then the period of transition to good performance will be extended by many years with consequent unemployment and alienation which are difficult for any civilised society to support.

As far as the cost of connection with Brussels is concerned, I sympathise greatly. Because so much civil and commercial business must be done between the capitals of the European Union you suffer particular disadvantages being at the [121] periphery. The ticket in my pocket is worth £500 — it is a return ticket from Brussels. That is virtually unsupportable for private individuals even if they are very prosperous. It is difficult to bear for a medium size company, especially if it has to send two or three trade representatives to a conference or a delegation.

We all have a vested interest in the reduction of air travel costs. We produced a report last week on the effect of civil aviation liberalisation which has been going on since 1993. In some respects the report was very encouraging. There have been new entrants in ten of the 15 domestic markets in the European Union. There has been an increase in the number of companies operating in civil aviation and on the number of routes. About 55 per cent of those who fly in the European Union go by charter and 71 per cent of those who fly on scheduled flights have the advantage of pax, apex or special fares. However, if people want to buy fully flexible fares in business or economy class in European civil aviation, they still pay fares which are too high and, in some cases, excessive. We will investigate those excessive fares which affect between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of all civil aviation users in the European Union. If we can prove those fares are excessive taking into account the costs which must be met to put that person in the air, we will use the powers of the relevant laws which already exist to require a withdrawal of those fares.

Having said that, there is only one way to bring fares down and that is to have three or more carriers on a route. All the evidence of our report and our experience suggests that we only get substantial falls in fares, including flexible ones, on European routes if there is intense competition. I do not have to tell anybody in Ireland what the effect of competition has been on major routes in and out of this country. That experience is mirrored throughout the European Union. Where there are three carriers on a route, there is real competition and there have been huge reductions in prices. Where there are two carriers on a route, we see the development of duopolies or coincidences where fares are within a couple of pounds of each other.

To reduce costs, we must foster the development of competition as much as we can. We are taking other actions such as that on civil aviation and airport charges and ground handling liberalisation which is underway in Ireland and are making a number of other changes, including the reform of air traffic management to reduce the non flight costs to carriers to make the more able compete with lower fares. There is no question of subsidy nor will there be. The most efficient and effective way to bring prices within the reach of the mass of people is through competition not through subsidy which could have the opposite effect, as it has had for most of the past 60 years in the civil aviation system of the European Union.

I find the question of widening and deepening fascinating. It will be evident to this House that [122] there are people and interests who will use the ambition to widen as an argument against deepening. There are some who will use the arguments in favour of deepening as an excuse for not widening. Both are completely insincere and entirely cosmetic arguments. The truth is that in order to widen we must deepen. The case is made by the size of the Commission, for example, that we must deepen the European Union by ensuring that every State, no matter how big the size of the Union, has a Commissioner. We made that point in our submission from the Commission to the intergovernmental conference. It also means that in the Council there must be a deepening in the form of wider use of qualified majority voting.

It is unthinkable that a tiny state which might have an exclusive interest could hold up the process of beneficial and benevolent legislation simply because it requires a unanimous view or, indeed, a big state with vested interests in the status quo doing likewise because the change proposed does not suit its immediate convenience. The only way an enlarged Union becomes manageable is if its procedures, constitution and actions are deepened. That does not mean the destruction of sovereignty. If sovereignty is in jeopardy in the modern world it is not from an alliance of democracies which constitutionally and deliberately develop mutual and joint actions, but from the operation of unaccountable markets which comes as a consequence of circumstances over which single nations have little or no control. International crime, drug trafficking, environmental pollution, employment and various forms of migration are irresistible and uncontrollable as far as single nations are concerned.

The truth about modern sovereignty is that, if it is to be effective, it must be pooled. Deepening and widening are not the perils of sovereignty as some would have us believe. They are ways of exalting the effective power of people over the changes and influences that can control and influence their lives. This will continue to be a fundamental argument which should be taken head on. What we are trying to pursue both through widening and deepening is the addition to the power of people to control their own destiny. That needs, among other things, the implementation of an effective and responsive union of democracies working in alliance. Any excuses about not deepening because we are busy widening, or not widening because we are busy deepening are side-shows which fail to address the basic issues of concern to the people of the Union — unemployment, tension, insecurity, the environmental threat and whether there is a future for their children. We need the combined strength of the Union to try to provide many of the answers as possible.

The maintenance of cohesion in the approach to entry to the Union will be difficult in any circumstances, but the advance towards monetary union will mean extra pressures. That is why I [123] make the argument and use the term fiscal transfer. I am not suggesting there should be an explosion in the budget. A feature of all successful monetary unions, whether we talk about the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany or France, is that they are national monetary unions. What is evident in those monetary unions is that there must be arrangements for fiscal transfer to ease shifts, to compensate for major industrial changes and to stimulate the development of peripheral areas. This is totally justifiable in the interests of the country and now in the interests of the Union. In the approach to membership of the Union and for some time after, we must make the commitment to cohesion in forceful and practical terms and not simply in rhetorical terms. There is a danger sometimes that it is only rhetorical.

I answered one point made by the last truly ginger member of the Commission, Senator O'Kennedy. When I turned up at the Commission, the officials thought he had come back but they said he was bigger and better looking.

Mr. O'Kennedy: The younger version.

Commissioner Kinnock: As regards the institutional question, which is the Commission's opinion, there cannot be fewer than one Commissioner per member state. The distortions that would arise in the sense of injustice if anything else was tried would be insupportable.

I have a similar view as far as the burden of 11 working languages is concerned. I can see the rationality — I say it from the point of view of an English speaker — of having fewer working languages and, consequently, a reduction in the use of time and money. Some 4,000 out of 16,000 people who work for the Commission are in the translation and interpretation services. This is not a great sprawling democracy as some would have us believe, but a small administrative bureaucracy where approximately 25 per cent of the people are employed because we have 11 languages.

There is a price worth paying, although it is substantial. However, if we want to reach out to people and make the European Union transparent and meaningful, language is fundamental and it may be symbolic in some cases. In Finland 85 per cent of the people speak English and 65 per cent speak more than two languages, including Swedish because a substantial part of the population of Finland is Swedish. Perhaps the use of Finnish is symbolic. However, the symbol is of crucial importance and it is a cheque we must be prepared to write for a long time unless and until countries take the view that they do not require their language to be a working language.

I do not know the history of this country well enough to understand if this country has made a conscious decision as regards its language. If it has, that demonstrates a degree of co-operative [124] maturity which is exemplary. However, we cannot impose such a decision on others; it is a conclusion they must come to themselves. I am conscious it might imply that Latvian, Lithuanian and Romanian should become working languages. However, we will have to write a cheque in those circumstances.

Convergence is a better term than cohesion but it is being used for another purpose. Convergence implies a moving together at a higher standard and it is a much more accurate use of the term. However, it was used for other purposes and cohesion is a second best, especially since people in greater numbers understand its implications. We must sustain and strengthen the commitment to cohesion not only because of the self-evident reasons that we need to support and assist in the development of the periphery, of areas which are going through significant structural change or of areas hit for any number of reasons by poverty, but also for the purposes of decongestion.

I speak from a transport standpoint but it is also true in terms of employment, the expense of land and development, access to science, the application of research and development and the defence of the environment. We must ensure that not only do we have a spread for the purpose of benefiting the periphery — that has merit in itself — but that we secure a greater spread in order to avoid the ruinous implications of congestion in the centre. Even since Mr. Roy Jenkins was President of the Commission 20 years ago, the movement in the direction of congestion as a major impediment to effective and sustainable economic development has been huge. Traffic volumes have gone up by 80 per cent in those 20 years and they will double in the next 20 years.

Last night I was with a group from a German land, the capital of which is Stuttgart, whose major problem is that it is a transit land between Switzerland, France and the rest of Germany and the congestion there is such that it is one of the first three concerns mentioned by electors who are asked what worries them most. They will not take kindly to the idea of people from Ireland or Wales asking them for three Siemens plants, two ABB plants and a machine tool industry in return for assistance with decongestion. I do not think they will volunteer for that. We must continue to argue that part of the reason for a cohesion strategy is decongestion — the rescue of substantial parts of the European Union from thrombosis. The fact that the relocation will be of benefit to the periphery is a bonus as far as I am concerned.

It is unfortunate that the European Union does not have a defence policy or common foreign and security policy of the kind which permits an easing of expenditure on defence and armaments. If we did. I presume we would extend the existing strategy. The Konver programme, for example, which could do with further assistance, assists those parts of the European Union heavily dependent on defence industries to apply such skills to other industries and services. I would like [125] to see that happening on a continental basis. It would be a huge economic gain if that were the case. The responsibility for it lies elsewhere, with national governments, NATO and so on, not with the European Union. While we can ruminate about and become passionately engaged in the arguments, we do not have any kind of responsible authority in these matters and it may be many years before we do.

An Cathaoirleach: I thank the Commissioner. He has given very detailed replies to the questions asked.

Commissioner Kinnock: Those are the Chairman's words.

An Cathaoirleach: A number of Senators are offering and I appeal to them to be brief.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I join with my colleagues in welcoming Commissioner Kinnock to Seanad Éireann.

My first question is about transport in an enlarged Union. Most of the ten potential member states are located in mainland Europe and to the east and south east of Germany. We are on the periphery and while we appreciate the importance of cohesion, enlargement and improved access to markets — the Commissioner referred to the EU responding to enlargement by improving access to markets — enlargement is laden with much danger.

As previous Senators have stated, we are the only island member state. We do not receive funding for mobile assets such as ferries and cargo planes. We are at a huge cost disadvantage. Transportation costs, particularly from the west, to the UK or the continent are prohibitive and this puts us at a huge competitive disadvantage.

The Commissioner said that State aid for social cohesion would still be available and that Aer Lingus would benefit. We need State and EU aid for mobile assets which will enable us to transport our goods easily and cheaply to mainland Europe. I ask him as Transport Commissioner to recognise that we are on the periphery and not to lose sight of us.

The other issue is the reduction in the number of Commissioners. There are arguments for and against that. We say that small member states should retain their Commissioners and, if there is to be a reduction, let it be from those member states who have two Commissioners.

The third issue is the European Monetary Union. That is also important for Ireland. What is the Commissioner's view on the UK's position on European Monetary Union? How might it affect the economy and markets in this part of Europe?

Mr. McGowan: I join with my colleagues in welcoming the Commissioner to the House. If other Commissioners followed his example, we [126] could spend a few useful hours together and Senators would apprectiate that.

There is an organisation which may not be well-known because it would not have been prudent to advertise its existence. For 20 years, there has been a north-west cross-Border group, the only one which comprises elected Members on both sides of the Border: three local authorities in Northern Ireland and one in Donegal where I come from. It covers all political persuasions which is unique. Despite the fact that the Commissioner only receives bad news, we have managed to stay together without making embarrassing statements about each other.

We recently met Minister Moss in Northern Ireland and submitted a specific proposal about a road. The road is the N2 in the Republic of Ireland and the A5 in Northern Ireland. The cross-Border group unanimously has this as its top priority. After meeting Minister Moss, he suggested we would not make much progress until we had the blessing of Commissioner Kinnock. This is an opportunity for me to present a copy of the submission made to Minister Moss to the Commissioner, in the hope that he will recognise that this is a genuine cross-Border project and not a flag of convenience. I would appreciate his assistance in having the N2 and A5 upgraded so that more people from north and south could travel and visit each other. Perhaps it would contribute to a better understanding on the island.

Mr. Sherlock: On behalf of Democratic Left, I welcome the Commissioner. His speech and replies were very informative. The speeches we have heard today suggest we would have no problem replacing the Commissioner should a vacancy arise.

Is it the case that there could be an implication for people employed in the ground services at our major airports as a result of deregulation? To what extent could they be affected?

Mr. Daly: I welcome the Commissioner and thank him for his enlightening address this afternoon. I also express our appreciation for the support for Aer Lingus. It has succeeded in protecting jobs in Shannon Airport which is in my constituency.

I am glad he referred in his speech to the protection of rural communities. Coming from the west, we are only too familiar with the declining population which continues to haemorrhage. There is a necessity for continuing Union support to deal with that issue.

I also compliment the Commissioner on a Green Paper he launched earlier this year on the negative side-effects of transport which he estimated is costing the Union 250 billion ECUs per year. Will he indicate what progress if any has been made on this and how he sees it developing?

Mr. Magner: I welcome our guest as a friend not just to me for almost two decades but also to [127] this country. It is proper that present and former illustrious people are here — former Commissioner O'Kennedy, Commissioner Kinnock and the former Cathaoirleach, Tras Honan, who is in the Distinguished Visitors' Gallery.

Senator O'Toole mentioned maritime peripherality, Commissioner Kinnock is probably aware of a crisis in relation to the Rosslare link with calls by that company for a subsidy. There is built in disadvantage for this island given that French or German trucks can travel directly to their markets while Irish trucks are queueing up to board ferries in Dún Laoghaire or Rosslare. Commissioner Kinnock will have to address that problem.

Another matter I raised with Professor Dooge, a distinguished former Minister for Foreign Affairs, related to the vision of Europe. Economic benefits will not retain the interest and idealism of the youth of this wider community. Professor Dooge said that he was not sure whether Europe had this vision. Perhaps it is enlargement but I do not think so. Europe is seen as a club that does not exert itself too much on behalf of the grievously disadvantaged, such as those in Zaire. Senator Daly raised that point. Such a wealthy and powerful institution should be addressing these issues as a matter of priority.

An Cathaoirleach: As it is now two minutes past six o'clock, which is past our concluding time, I will call on Commissioner Kinnock to conclude. Other Members have indicated but I am sorry there is not enough time for their contributions.

Commissioner Kinnock: I regret that my earlier responses were so long as to have excluded Members from asking questions. I hope, however, that there will be opportunities less formal than this for us to exchange views on future occasions.

I want to correct what appears to be a misinterpretation. I am sure the record will show what I said was that there will always be a place for public subsidies for air and other transport services that serve as straightforward social needs. That includes services to remote island areas. I did not mention Aer Lingus or any company or country by name. That will continue to be a system that will need to be operated in a variety of places in the European Union.

As far as the financing or support for mobile assets is concerned, I recognise the obvious and deep Irish concern about the problem. The only areas that have comparable grounds for concern are those edging up towards the Arctic Circle in Finland and Sweden where distance is a huge inhibition for their commerce and people.

If we moved to the policy of supporting mobile assets, however strongly we attempted to be discerning and to differentiate in particular circumstances, we would be entering an area [128] where the sky truly is the limit. I recognise that this is a matter of basic concern. It was first put to me a long time ago, before I became a Commissioner, by Dr. Garret FitzGerald. He said it was all very well for the European Union to support the development of motorways into southern Spain, which Ireland supported, but since transnational motorways to and from Ireland would have to run across the Irish Sea, comparable support would be needed for them. Put in those straight forward terms it is a difficult argument to rebut.

The only basis on which the Union can afford to act is a complete refusal to support the purchase and maintenance of mobile assets because the implications of moving beyond that would be gigantic. We have come close to doing it. I have been active in trying to ensure that we have effective investment to provide support for essential equipment and skills to maximise efficiency of interconnected transport services. That is why a couple of weeks ago I put it to the Council, with their agreement, that we should expand our so-called project actions for combined transport to the maritime sector — one of the instances I had in mind was the Irish case — so that there will be access to funds to assist in the purchase and development of equipment that assists in the shore to ship and ship to shore transfer of goods.

I am not saying that is the same as helping with the purchase and maintenance of a ferry but it is as near as we can go towards assisting the development of particular combined transport modes which will have significant application in parts of the Union that are dependent on sea traffic, which Ireland patently is. If we step beyond that towards support for the purchase of mobile assets there are countless numbers of cases in which the same argument could be put — that in order to mitigate the effects of distance it would be fair to support the purchase of assets. Efficiency in the operation of communication and transport is the only way of reducing the disadvantages, some of which come from distance and some from congestion.

The other question concerned the proposition we put for fair and efficient pricing. Fundamental to the idea is that the full costs of transport, including those inflicted upon the whole of society in the form of congestion, pollution and accident costs, are borne by transport users and that the charge is levied on a heavily differentiated basis. In that way a clean truck costs less than a dirty one and travel on an uncongested mode or route costs less than on a congested one. The effect of the implementation of such a policy across the Union would be that while movement in congested areas would carry additional costs, because we are after fair and efficient pricing, movement in uncongested areas would cost relatively less. We are a long way from getting that kind of idea implemented but the beneficiaries would be the people and businesses operating in congested areas which now bear the [129] major threat of external transport effects. Also benefiting would be the people and businesses of more peripheral areas who now pay the same costs to put a wagon on the road as they would if they were in the overdeveloped centre of the Union. That is neither fair nor efficient.

Account should be taken of the relatively smaller impact made in terms of congestion, pollution, infrastructure costs and accidents as a consequence of operating in different areas. Hopefully, through those kinds of policies, some of the differences can be smoothed out and efficiency encouraged by the operation of Community policies.

I will not go into detail of my view of the United Kingdom's position on monetary union. I would simply say that whatever the pros and cons they are obviously serious. My great friend, Cledwyn Hughes, from Anglesea, used to say there are pros and cons for, and pros and cons against. This is one of those arguments. I am an enthusiast for monetary union. Countries that are deliberately not seeking participation in the so-called first wave must consider what life and the conduct of their economies will be like outside when, not if, a monetary union is formed. This is a pressing question.

I recommend an excellent book which has just been written on the implications of British policy so far as Ireland is concerned. Many of the best answers to your questions are to be found within its covers, and if you have ever heard a politician dodging a question this is it.

Mr. Manning: Well kicked to touch.

Commissioner Kinnock: So far as the rule in the north-west is concerned, I am familiar with the proposal but not from Mr. Moss. Nevertheless, he is a nice man. He knows that under Article 129(c) of the Treaty we can do nothing except on the nomination of the member state. That is how it should be. It is an effective safeguard on subsidiarity. It would be foolish for someone like me to work out the traffic network of the Union. It is right that we rely on local initiative and national nomination.

On the question of supporting the development of a road through County Derry and into County Donegal connecting with the transport systems of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland we will be happy to judge any proposal on its merits. However, I first need to get a letter from Minister Moss.

With regard to deregulation in ground handling, the impact in the short term can be to put pressure on jobs, resulting in losses. This is not universally or necessarily the case. In several instances, not least in the UK, it has meant that an initial loss of jobs was quickly recovered from and the net consequence of more efficient services in the context of an expanding air market — the Irish air market grew by a phenomenal 15 per cent last year and will continue to grow — is an increase in jobs because the services are more efficient and the companies operating them are more competitive.

[130] I can see why those engaged in ground handling will respond with anxiety when asked to change practices and to restructure. However, if it is done on a co-operative basis, which appears to be the case with regard to Aer Rianta and Aer Lingus ground handling, the outcome in a short time can be positive. I hope this will be the case.

I mentioned negative external costs. None of us pay the full costs of the effect of our use of the transport system on the rest of society. While we pay taxes, charges, revenues, etc., these do not even pay for the infrastructure. This is true across the Union. They do not pay for the major external costs of congestion, pollution and noise. The OECD estimates, and nobody has seriously quarrelled with it, that in a modern industrialised economy pollution inflicts a cost which is the equivalent of 1.5 per cent of GDP, noise inflicts a cost equivalent to 0.6 per cent of GDP while congestion inflicts a cost equivalent to 2 per cent. These three external costs amount to 250 billion ECUs across the EU. That sum is what it costs every year. It does not produce anything. We must reduce these costs not only on grounds of economic and social sustainability and environmental protection but economic common sense. One way to do this is to charge them to those who generate them, in other words, ourselves, so that we can be more efficient in our transport choices.

A maritime conference is being convened under the Irish Presidency in Dublin next month and it will try to deal with whether maritime employment has a future in the EU. Several of the points touched on by Senators are central to this.

With regard to idealism, there is the EU humanitarian organisation. We are the biggest donors to those attempting to relieve the agonies of Burundi, Rwanda and now Zaire. We also have DG 8, external funds, the ACP and a host of effective activities in various parts of the world. They are an appeal to practicality as well as to idealism. If this enterprise loses its appeal to spiritual values and idealism and simply relies upon its commercial values and competition we will fail in our task. Europe has got to mean more than a Single Market.

An Cathaoirleach: Thank you, Commissioner. I call on the Leas-Chathaoirleach, Senator Mullooly, to propose a vote of thanks.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: On behalf of the Members of Seanad Éireann I wish to thank Commissioner Kinnock for his wide ranging and interesting address and for his comprehensive replies to the questions raised by Senators. We deeply appreciate his kindness in accepting our invitation to address the Seanad. Notwithstanding his extensive and onerous portfolio he has not lost any of his warmth of spirit and kind goodwill. I assure him that he has the sincere good wishes of all the Members of this House in his future endeavours.

Sitting suspended at 6.15 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.

[131] Acting Chairman (Mr. Fitzgerald): When is it proposed to sit again?

Ms O'Sullivan: Tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.