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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Jul 1985

Vol. 360 No. 1

Milan European Council: Statements.

I propose, a Cheann Comhairle, to make a statement on the European Council held in Milan, which I attended with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Peter Barry, on 28 and 29 June. The Council, which for the first time was attended by the Governments of Spain and Portugal, was concerned to a considerable extent with the proposals made in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee for Institutional Affairs, consisting of personal representatives of Heads of State or Government and chaired by Senator Dooge. I, therefore, invited the Senator and he was good enough to accompany me, in a consultative capacity, to Milan. I have arranged for the conclusions of the Council to be laid before the House in the usual way.

We spent some time in the House last Wednesday discussing European Union and other aspects of the Community. I do not propose, therefore, to go in detail into the background to the recent Council.

The Milan Council was the first for a long time to have had before it the opportunity of an indepth discussion on the way the Community is working and of its prospects, unencumbered by immediate and controversial topics like budget limits and contributions, enlargement, the super-levy etc., which have virtually monopolised earlier Councils. This provided the opportunity which the Italian Presidency took for setting two days aside for Heads of State or of Government to discuss the Dooge Report, the question of a new Treaty on European Union, the report of the Committee on a Peoples' Europe, the internal market and technology, including the French EUREKA proposal, as well as the current economic and social situation, trade relations with Japan and famine in Africa.

The meeting continued from approximately 11 a.m. until late on Friday night and again from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. The Council was, in my experience, unique in the range and complexity of the subjects dealt with.

The major problem facing Europe today is unemployment. The European Community, with a budget equivalent to approximately 1 per cent of gross national product of the Community, is in no position at present to tackle this problem through solutions involving expenditure. It can, however, act in other ways that will help to sustain and create employment. First — and above all — it can improve the way in which it makes decisions. Even if the Community were endowed with unlimited resources, it could not act effectively if its decision-making processes were deficient. This, therefore, is one reason why I have been so concerned to ensure that the Community can improve its capacity for making decisions. The relationships between its different institutions — primarily, the Parliament, the Council of Ministers, and the Commission — are extremely relevant to the efficient working of the European economy.

Next, if the market, which the Community was established to encourage, is not free and unified so that it is a single market like the United States or Japan, then it will defeat the very purposes for which it was established. Enterprises must be able to develop their full potential in a market of 260 million, soon to be of 320 million, people. If this is not done, we shall all be the poorer; and Europe could well become, as Signor Spinelli has suggested, a border region between two great empires. This was a second major concern in Milan — how to set about unravelling effectively the tangle of conflicting industrial norms, product standards, border controls, fiscal and other practices which continue to fragment the market and entangle the Community in an irrational and frustrating web of restrictions and rigidities.

The third of our major concerns — which, as I have suggested, centre around the problem of economic growth in Europe and our ability to tackle unemployment — was the way in which Europe is falling behind technologically. This can and has been exaggerated but there is need for action to ensure that industry located in Europe can take part in the market of the future. One estimate of the extent of what could be involved is that markets based on space products alone — including new alloys, new medicines, new exploration mapping and forecasting techniques — will by the end of this century be worth about $200 billion approximately, twice the entire market for services and products for the entire airline industry at the present time. Europe, and we in Ireland, just cannot afford to be left out or to fall behind in this race.

These then, were the three major concerns lying behind our deliberations in Milan: how to improve the institutional arrangements of the Community — which are difficult and complicated enough with ten members but will become even more so with enlargement to 12 — so as to enable it to work efficiently and democratically; how to complete the internal market so that the people of Europe can benefit from the full potential of what is now the single largest trading bloc in the world; and how to ensure the Europe, which has led the world for so long in so many areas of science and technology, does not fall behind now in the development of the products and services of the future.

Against this background, I feel a certain sense of disappointment that proposals before the Council for improvements in the decision-making process that could be undertaken now — that is, reinforcing the practice of majority voting and strengthening the executive powers of the Commission — did not secure support from every member state. However, with the support of seven member states, the Presidency is to take the steps necessary to convene an Inter-Governmental Conference with a view to submitting the results for decision to the next European Council to be held later this year in Luxembourg. The governments in favour of the convening of this conference were the six original members of the Community and Ireland. Spain and Portugal will be invited to participate. Major themes of the conference will be the question of amending the EC Treaty, in accordance with Article 236, as regards the decision-making process of the Council; the Commission's executive power; the powers of the European Parliament; and the extension to new fields of activity in line with the proposals made by the Dooge and the Adonnino committees.

The conference will also look at the question of a treaty or agreement on a common foreign and security policy on the basis of France-German and United Kingdom texts.

I should like to express my appreciation of the manner in which the French and German Governments, conscious of our special position of neutrality, worded Articles 8.1 and 8.2 of their draft treaty so as to place security matters other than political and economic aspects — viz. matters with possible defence implications — firmly outside the framework of the proposed political co-operation arrangements, as they are at present, and within the Western European Union framework, and of the manner in which the British Prime Minister accepted this significant change by reference to the equivalent paragraph 8 of the British draft treaty, on the basis that the Franco-German version met the needs of the Irish situation more effectively and clearly.

These passages of the Franco-German draft treaty are:

Article 8.1: The signatory States... reaffirm their readiness increasingly to coordinate their positions on the political and economic aspects of security.

Article 8.2: Those among the signatory States who wish to co-operate more closely in the field of security will do so within the framework of the Western European Union while respecting the role which falls to the Alliance, and their specific situation and strategy within the latter.

On this point at the conclusion of the discussions, I entered on the records a formal declaration, referring to the Conclusion on Institutional Affairs to the effect that:

Without prejudice to its position on other points, Ireland accepts the wording of the first indent of the fourth paragraph viz. that dealing with Political Co-operation on the basis of paragraph 8.1 second sentence, and paragraph 8.2, of the Draft Franco-German Treaty.

On the next major theme — that of the internal market — the European Council asked the Council of Ministers to initiate a precise programme of action with a view to achieving completely and effectively the conditions for a single market in the Community by 1992 at the latest. This means:—

(1) the removal of physical and technical barriers to the free movement of goods within the Community, in particular the adoption of common or compatible standards for major new technologies in order to open up public purchasing and satisfy the requirements of business;

(2) the creation of a free market in the financial services and transport sections;

(3) the creation of full freedom of establishment for the professions; and

(4) the liberalisation of capital movements.

I stressed here that the advantages which a single market could bring to the Community as a whole would not be evenly distributed unless specific measures were taken to counterbalance the centripetal effects. The Council accordingly agreed that the creation of a single market should contribute to furthering the more general objectives of the Treaty, including those of harmonious development and economic convergence.

I should also add on this point that some of the proposals in the Commission White Paper deal with fiscal harmonisation. I said that, in so far as Ireland was concerned, the concept of harmonising excise duties and VAT could have unacceptable consequences and that, in particular, if taxes were to be harmonised then we should also think in terms of harmonising welfare provisions within the Community. In other words, if the Community wishes to harmonise the revenue raising powers of Governments — and there are many arguments for this — then it must also look, as an absolute precondition, to the consequences and to the programmes which those revenues are used to finance. The conclusions record, in paragraph 3 of this section, the need for a special examination of this subject.

It is all very well to speak of improving the way in which the Community works and of achieving a unified market by the year 1992, but this does not meet the case of the man or woman now who has no job. Unemployment, which, as I have said, is the most serious problem facing Europe today, must be addressed by the Community as well as by member states. I commended to the European Council in some detail the excellent report submitted by the Italian Minister, Mr. Goria, in his capacity as Chairman of the ECO/FIN Council, of which I am placing a copy in the Library together with a similar document on the EMS. In this report, which follows directly from a statement I made in the Dublin European Council last December as to the need for consideration of stimulatory measures, attention is drawn to the need to give priority in all member states to combating unemployment. The report follows the case I made then as to the need to ensure an appropriate level of demand in Europe so as to take over from the US economy if present trends towards slacker activity in the United States are reinforced.

My intervention is closely reflected in the Presidency Conclusions which invites the ECO/FIN Council to consider the extent to which the convergence already achieved in inflation levels and imbalances — viz. in regard to external payments and Government budgets — would enable the Community to intensify the battle against unemployment. The Commission is also to report to the European Council in December on the present inadequacies as regards economic growth and employment in the European economy, in comparison with its major competitors among the industrialised countries and on the new strategies that could be implemented to remedy the situation.

The support for a co-ordinated European approach in advanced technological research for civilian purposes, involving both the French EUREKA project and the Commission's constructive proposals along the same lines, was unanimous and remarkably enthusiastic. The Council expressed the wish that the EUREKA project sponsored by President Mitterrand for France should be open to those non-Community countries which had already shown interest in taking part in it. These include Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria.

As regards follow-up, France would continue the steps it was taking, by convening before 14 July, in collaboration with the Council Presidency and the Commission, an ad hoc committee of Ministers for Research or other qualified representatives of the Governments of countries which had responded positively, and representatives of the Commission.

The Council considered that the follow-up should ensure exploitation of the potential benefits of the Community dimension by establishing a close link between technological development and the effort to break down the barriers to a full internal market; by tying it in with other common policies, in particular trade policy towards the Community's main partners; by reducing the risk of unnecessary duplication of national efforts and assembling a "critical mass"— or minimum necessary scale — of financial and human resources; and, finally, by obtaining the maximum benefit from the technical and financial instruments immediately available to the Community, including those of the European Investment Bank.

In recent days agreements to co-operate in a number of the most advanced fields have been concluded by European companies from a number of countries inside and outside the Community. This development was noted with interest by the Council. I should also mention that on the eve of the Milan meeting we received a further letter on EUREKA from the French Foreign Minister which made if fully clear that his Government had taken on board the concerns we had conveyed to them and had accepted that small and medium sized firms and research centres should be enabled to participate effectively in programmes under EUREKA and to benefit fully from the results of the research.

A major issue which came up at Milan related to how this new initiative should be organised, with particular reference to the role of the Community, as such, and of the Commission. This will no doubt be teased out further before and at the meeting of the ad hoc committee decided on by the Council. The Government will be giving careful consideration to how best to advance Community and Irish interests.

Against the background of increasing dangers to the world's multilateral trading system, the Council also discussed the Community's trade relations with Japan. It fully shared the serious concern of the recent Foreign Affairs Council at the very limited progress made by the Japanese authorities in opening up the Japanese market. We, therefore, endorsed the request made by our Foreign Ministers to Japan to increase its imports of manufactured goods and processed agricultural products, and to liberalise Japanese financial markets and internationalise the Yen, and asked the Commission to press for progress in these areas during the visit this month to Europe of Prime Minister Nakasone.

A Community which has perfected its decision-making processes and its internal market arrangements and is in total accord with its trading partners throughout the world — if one can imagine such a harmonious condition — would still be incomplete if it were to be seen by its citizens as remote, inaccessible and incomprehensible.

This is the essence of the problem addressed by the ad hoc committee on a People's Europe. The report of the committee contains concrete recommendations on the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament, on strengthening the right of petition to the European Parliament and on a possible role for a European ombudsman; on co-operation in television production; on setting up a European Academy of Science, Technology and Art and on the feasibility of a Euro-lottery to finance cultural projects; on voluntary work camps, exchanges between schools and universities and the organisation of Community sporting events, Community teams and combating violence at sporting events; on the organisation of volunteers for development work in the Third World; on provision of a Community emergency health card, easier access to medical treatment when travelling in the Community, greater Community co-operation in combating drug abuse; on twinning of towns and cities; and on the adoption of a Community flag and anthem.

The Council approved the recommendations on these questions and requested the Commission and the member states to implement those recommendations which are within their respective competences. The Foreign Ministers have been asked to report to us at our next meeting in December on progress. We also emphasised the especial value of a French proposal to launch a programme of action at European level against cancer.

The Council noted that two-thirds of the 1.2 million tonnes of cereals or their equivalent, committed at our meeting here in Dublin in December last, has already reached the recipients or was en route to Africa. We agreed that new food aid requirements could arise, particularly if rain during the rainy season which had just started in Africa, was to be insufficient. We welcomed the Commission's proposal to mobilise 500,000 tonnes of cereals equivalent, additional to the normal aid programme, and asked the Council of Development Aid Ministers to examine this urgently. As regards the long term, we agreed to support the food strategies and efforts of African countries to achieve food self-sufficiency as well as to give priority to the battle against desertification.

As the principal focus of the Council was on economic and institutional affairs, we had little time to discuss major political issues of international importance. In this regard, the Council adopted conclusions only on the question of relations between the European Community and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, better known as COMECON.

The Heads of State or Government also had an exchange of views and information on the Middle East situation and on terrorism in the world today.

In the margin of the Council, I had a meeting with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, to review progress in the discussions on the situation in Northern Ireland. As is customary, no substantive communique or other statement is issued on the content of these brief meetings.

In conclusion, the Council was, as Deputies will gather, concerned with a wide range of problems confronting Europe and the world. I can touch here only in outline on the discussions which, as I have said, extended over two long days. I think that a significant step forward has been taken in the decision to hold an intergovernmental conference, with a view to deciding on necessary improvements in the working of the Community's institutions and in its decision-making process.

On the matters of contention, the majority of countries found it possible — indeed went out of their way — to accommodate Irish interests. Our concerns on neutrality were met. The conclusions explicitly respond to the concerns I expressed in regard to unemployment and economic convergence. Particular Irish concerns in regard to the advanced technology proposals have been accepted; and our reservations in relation to vital national interests in the decision-making process are coming increasingly to be recognised as valid and indeed acceptable by many other member states, some of whom originally proposed measures in this area ostensibly in advance of the Irish position.

While I regret the inability of the Council in Milan to give firm and agreed guidelines there and then on the decision-making proposals before it there, I am satisfied that the Community has at least the possibility of making the changes necessary to improve its efficiency and confer on its 320 million citizens, equitably, the benefit of a sophisticated and unified market with industries at the frontiers of technology and an agriculture which is among the best in the world.

By all accounts the European Council meeting in Milan appears to have been a confused affair. Yet another Council has come and gone without any action to deal with unemployment. Bad workmen blame their tools. The institutions of the Community are being blamed, when it is in fact the political leaders of Europe who are to blame for a total lack of commitment or political will to tackle unemployment.

The political issue for us, the touchstone of the effectiveness and relevance of the Community to our situation, is the level of unemployment. As I stated last week, our unemployment rate in 1973 was 65,000, while today it is around 225,000. In the Community as a whole it has jumped from 2,500,000 people to 14 million people. The scale of unemployment in Ireland and in the Community is not paralleled elsewhere. European leaders would do us all a service by concentrating on this scandal. By comparison, schemes for European Union are simply a form of political escapism, castles in the air designed to distract the attention of impatient electorates from the inadequate economic performance of the European Community.

The obvious disunity over the proposal to call a conference on European unity hardly inspires great confidence about its success. Britain on the one hand and France and Germany on the other seem to have spent their time trying to upstage each other. The Milan European Council has left the Community in a shambles, and anyone who concludes that a new era of progress is dawning in the Community is obviously an eternal optimist.

It is becoming increasingly clear the Taoiseach is not a very reliable rapporteur. What people in this country want to know, what they are interested in, is whether the major European economies are going to reflate in a co-ordinated manner. Is there any prospect of more resources for the Regional Fund to remedy the serious imbalances that exist and that are widening? Other than the decision to call an intergovernmental conference, whose mandate must await the Council of Foreign Ministers, nothing else was decided. So it is difficult to see that there is anything for even the most devoted leader writer to get enthusiastic about. Is it not the case that nothing has yet been settled, that everything is for negotiation, and that there could be some unpleasant surprises for us at the end of the day?

An intergovernmental conference has been convened to work out, firstly, "a treaty on a common foreign and security policy on the basis of the Franco-German and United Kingdom drafts" and, secondly, amendments to the Treaty. The whole notion of an intergovernmental conference to draft a new European Union Treaty, contained in the Dooge and Spinelli reports, has been diluted. The new Treaty is to be confined to political co-operation, while the Rome Treaty is to be retained and amended. A number of member states have already forecast that the Conference, at least as far as amendment of the Treaty is concerned, is an impossible proposition as some Parliaments will never ratify sweeping changes in majority voting.

Ireland voted with the Six for the conference and there can be no doubt that Ireland must attend such a conference, if it is called. At the same time I do not think we can have any great enthusiasm for it. I think we must be honest and see our role as part of the general posturing that was going on. There is no basis for the Taoiseach's claim on RTE on Sunday that this brings major practical benefits to Ireland. He referred to concessions won by Ireland on the milk super-levy and the common fisheries policy. The fact is these concessions, unsatisfactory though they were, were bitterly opposed by countries supposed to be full of goodwill towards us. Even though our case was a strong one, the concessions were only made because our agreement was necessary to allow the new policies to go ahead.

It is legitimate to ask how we would have fared if there had been no veto in existence. That is the reality. Let us stop creating illusions about how the Community really works. Britain and Greece have won really major concessions from Community in the last couple of years, and they did not win them on the basis of the personal reputations or European attitudes of the people involved. Sentiment really counts for very little unfortunately, in the hard bargaining that goes on in the Community. Our vital interests will not receive any protection at the intergovernmental conference merely because we supported the holding of it. In fact, the reverse is the more likely outcome.

The language of the conclusions, which refers to, "a treaty on a common foreign and security policy on the basis of the Franco-German and United Kingdom drafts", gives a somewhat unfortunate impression that we favour both a common foreign policy and a common security policy, when the fact is that no Treaty Ireland will be able to sign can bind us to a common foreign and security policy, which would be incompatible with our neutrality.

I understand and accept that the Franco-German draft treaty involves more intensive co-operation on political and economic aspects of security only, and that those member states who want to go beyond that in relation to security will do so in the framework of the Western European union. But it is not by any means clear what more intensive co-operation on the political and economic aspects of security is likely to involve. Will it mean agreement to use economic sanctions for instance or will it limit our freedom of action at the UN?

After the last discussion we had here there were suggestions that I was imagining things when I talked about pressure on Irish neutrality. But it is the people who say and write this kind of thing who are either fooling themselves or trying to hide the reality. This is what the Taoiseach said: "It should be made clear that no other Government has put any pressure at any time on us on this issue of neutrality. Persistent reports to the contrary are quite simply inventions. No one should allow themselves to be fooled by this propaganda." That is in my view a dangerous piece of selectivity. In fact, it is a half truth. The recognition of that comes from the Taoiseach's statement today. In one place he stated:

I should like to express my appreciation of the manner in which the French and German Governments, conscious of our special position of neutrality, worded Articles 8.1 and 8.2 of their draft Treaty so as to place security matters other than political and economic aspects —

If there was no problem for us why then is the Taoiseach grateful to the French and German Governments for this concession. Later in his statement the Taoiseach said:

Our concerns on neutrality were met...

The whole impression conveyed by the Taoiseach when he last spoke here and, indeed, by his leader writers, was that we need not have any concern but now, on his own admission, there was, even by himself, some grounds for concern.

The simple fact is that there is a widespread movement in the Community to bring about a new form of a Community in which it would be impossible for us to retain a policy of neutrality. Two years ago the British Defence Secretary, Mr. Heseltine, said that in the event of any real threat there was no way Ireland could opt out. A former German Chancellor, Willi Brandt, still a major figure of influence in Europe, said, as reported in the Sunday Press of 19 May 1985, that he would like to see Ireland making a full defence and military commitment to the EEC, and that this was the view of the German Government as well as the Opposition. The German Ambassador here a month earlier stated that every effort should be taken to facilitate countries to participate in a common security policy, and suggested those countries prepared for stronger intergration should go ahead without waiting for the others, thus raising the spectre of the two tier Community.

Did that not constitute pressure? When other countries put forward texts or proposals which ignore the existence of Irish neutrality and assume it out of existence, does that constitute at least some sort of pressure? When the personal representatives of the other nine heads of Government in the Dooge interim report defined the aim of European Union as, "the cohesiveness and solidarity of the countries of Europe within the larger framework of the Alantic Alliance", was that not pressure on us? More recently Article 8 of British Foreign Minister Howe's draft agreement on political co-operation on security stated that it was an essential element of Europe's external political identity, and that the aim should be to maximise the contribution of member states to NATO.

Not all the pressure on Irish neutrality is coming from foreign Governments. A fair amount of it emanates from the right wing of the Fine Gael Party and their media friends. The Minister for Defence has at least the virtue of straight talking when he speaks of neutrality as, "a policy option", and states that the policy on neutrality is only valid till 1987, a point also made by the Taoiseach in a recent interview.

I make no apology for reiterating that the Irish public feel deeply about this issue and I believe we must not here at home or in Europe create a false impression, be half-hearted or embarrassed about it. The draft Treaty on political co-operation if it happens must meet the wishes of the Irish people on this crucial issue.

What is involved in completion of the internal market is spelt out in some detail in the communique. The first item is the removal of physical barriers to the free movement of goods within the Community. During the recent discussion here in this House I spelt out what this can mean for us if there is no adequate regional policy or action. It also involves the liberalisation of capital movements. Since we joined the EMS we have very tight exchange controls. Are we prepared to relax these, and what would the implications be of such a course of action?

The chapter concludes with the following statement: "In deciding on the above measures the Community will make every effort to ensure that the creation of a single free market contributes to furthering the more general objectives of the Treaty including those of harmonious development and economic convergence". To me that is a weak and perfunctory statement, which does nothing to meet the point which I argued forcibly in the Dáil last week in the debate on the Dooge report, that economic intergration has costs as well as benefits that must be countered by an effective regional policy.

I am quite disturbed by the very simplistic statement by the Taoiseach in the course of his contribution today when he said:

Next, if the market which the Community was established to encourage, is not free and unified so that it is a single market like the United States or Japan, then it will defeat the very purposes for which it was established. Enterprises must be able to develop their full potential in a market of 260 million, soon to be of 320 million, people.

That is all very well. It is an ideal but if we are going to have this totally free universal market throughout the Community without any protection for the peripheral regional disadvantaged areas I would genuinely be worried about the outcome of that development. How, for instance, is a small firm in Westport, County Mayo, or somewhere else in the west of Ireland expected to compete against the geographical and scale disadvantages it would have with some similar firm in the Ruhr? That is a dangerous, simplistic type of approach and I hope the idea of a totally free common market without any protection for the disadvantaged peripheral areas will not be followed through, as the present Government seem to be quite content to do.

The middle of page seven of the Taoiseach's address covers that point.

I do not think it does. He is very specific there and says that if we do not have this wholly free unified market we shall all be the poorer. That is something we can return to another day because we do not have time to debate it fully today.

I want to mention something which appeared in The Sunday Observer about what is happening in Britain. That article was called “The Ruined House of Regional Aid”. It points out that from the thirties there has been a steady effort to transfer prosperity from the better off regions of Britain in the south-east to the poorer regions in the north and west. The present British Government have, it was stated, killed that off with regional development grants cut from £650 million in 1982-83 to £177 million this year, leading to a widening gap between the north and south of Britain. Regional policy is now regarded by the British Government as merely supporting lame ducks and the costly pursuing of “structural rigidities”. The danger is that this monetarist approach is about to be adopted totally in the European Community as a whole — and that is my worry — with the same inevitable consequences of widening the divide between the richer and poorer sections of the Community. This is serious and potentially disastrous from our point of view, and we must seek remedial action which will ensure a greater commitment of resources to an enlarged regional policy and fund. We must be anxiously alert to our having to pay the price for increased European integration, and we should decline to ratify any agreement which does not contain the necessary safeguards and compensatory measures as far as we are concerned.

There is a naive reference in the conclusions to the possibility of further action or unemployment when the Council of Economic Ministers were invited to consider the extent to which the convergence which had already been achieved between the member states in the field of inflation and imbalances made it possible to intensify the battle against unemployment. I note in passing that the Irish Government have made no progress in correcting their own financial imbalances which behind all the fog carefully disseminated by the national handlers this Government head for the greatest current budget in the history of the State. Of course Community-wide reflation would make the biggest contribution of all to reducing unemployment, and we have constantly urged this. The proposed study on why the other major industrialised competitors are doing better should also have included a study of why most of the other smaller and medium-sized OECD countries are faring better than the Community.

Proposals to enlarge the Commission's administrative powers sound fairly hollow, when at the same time there was, we heard, the insistence of the French Presidency that the European Commission be denied competence over the EUREKA proposals to strengthen European science and technology.

Before leaving the subject of the Community, I must draw the House's attention to a little publicised statement made by the Taoiseach on 20 June in Rome with other Christian Democratic leaders from Germany, Benelux and Italy, calling on the European Council to take irreversible decisions leading to European Union, calling for the European Parliament to be given power of co-decision in legislative matters, making majority voting the rule within the Council of Ministers with a few exceptions, and that the Commission should be nominated by the European Parliament instead of member governments. The Taoiseach had no mandate from this House, or from anyone else to make such far-reaching commitments. They certainly do not represent the position of the Irish people. I am afraid the Taoiseach in matters European has a habit of losing all critical judgment and rushing headlong into commitments of that kind which he has no mandate to give before they have been examined or debated in any way in this country.

During the Council a meeting took place between the Taoiseach and Mrs. Thatcher. While the handlers line duly reported in the Irish press is that a summit is likely in the early autumn, the English papers, on the other hand, point out that they failed to set a date for a meeting. Does nobody recall that this meeting was originally promised for early this year? The Taoiseach cannot maintain credibility for these talks much longer. We should be told one way or the other, what if anything, is going on. It is, after all, our country they are talking about. The Taoiseach used to lecture this House three or four years ago about the dangers of secret Anglo-Irish talks.

Enough however is known about the talks to suggest that they cannot be reconciled with the spirit of the Forum Report, and the principle enshrined in it that any agreement without the narrow parameters permitted by the British Government will do nothing to establish lasting peace or stability in Northern Ireland.

The language of the communiqué, which "reaffirmed their commitment to make progress in relation to the Northern Ireland situation through their continuing contact, their condemnation of all forms of terrorism and their determination to do everything possible to defeat it", suggests that the whole context and thrust of what is going on is wrong. No internal Northern arrangements as the Forum Report points out can succeed or bring peace.

I feel I should comment on one proposal which keeps surfacing in our media. I refer to the suggestion that judges from this State might sit in the Northern courts on terrorist cases, and vice versa. I hope that no such ludicrous proposal is even being considered. One of the major achievements of this State has been the independence of the Judiciary and respect for our courts. There must be no attempt to play around with the constitutional position of the Judiciary in this State or to undermine the integrity of their position.

If these talks are not going anywhere, as would seem to be the case, let the Taoiseach end the charade now. We could then advocate to the world a realistic policy based on the truth that the Northern Ireland political expedient of 60 years ago has totally failed and no attempt to prop it up by half-baked measures at this stage will change that basic position.

It seems to be a strange priority, and I am sure this will seem so to many citizens of Europe, that at a time when unemployment is so high in the EC, when millions are out of work who want to work and who if given the chance would work, the Heads of Government of the EC should have spent the time of the Summit discussing vague possibilities of closer moves towards European unity, once again totally ignoring the greatest single social problem of unemployment.

Nobody introduced one shred of evidence that there is any substantial body of opinion in Ireland, or even in other EC countries, who are demanding moves towards closer integration, but there is a demand that something be done about unemployment and there would be widespread support for the Heads of Government if they knuckled down to and decided to tackle this problem of the jobless. Unfortunately most EC leaders, including our Taoiseach, seem quite prepared to tolerate existing levels of unemployment while indulging in their own idealistic pie in the sky fantasies about European unity. Perhaps if people in the various EC countries saw some real effort being made to solve their day-to-day problems there might be more enthusiasm for political unity.

In the discussion in the Dáil last Wednesday I warned the Taoiseach about the dangers of agreeing to participate in any conference of EC Governments which was going to use the Dooge report as an agenda for European unity, but this is precisely what has happened. The Taoiseach has totally capitulated and, more regrettably, we have isolated ourselves from those who should be our natural allies in the EC and who were on the other side in the vote on this occasion, Greece and Denmark. I find quite unconvincing the assurances given by the Taoiseach and by Senator Dooge in today's Irish Times that Irish neutrality is not threatened by these developments.

The Franco-German proposal indicated what is concerned in a treaty on European political co-operation and foreign policy co-ordination is the political and economic aspects of security. We have always believed that genuine neutrality involves far more than simply staying out of military alliances. Genuine neutrality means the development, protection and promotion of an independent foreign policy which takes a line which is totally independent of military blocs. Nobody is going to take our neutrality very seriously if we say we are not going to join NATO but we will support and promote the political line of our EC partners, all of whom happen to be members of NATO. That sort of neutrality is of least possible value. It offers us least protection in time of war and greatly reduces whatever international standing and respect we have enjoyed up to this among other neutral and non-aligned nations.

This is already happening. Our independent foreign policy is now succumbing to EC foreign policy. On repeated occasions here in the past few years, we have addressed questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs asking what Ireland's position is on Central America, South Africa, or the Middle East or what the Government had done on any of these international problems. We have been told in reply what the EC position is and what the Ten have agreed. Incidentally, this has been the position under both Fianna Fáil and Coalition Governments. Soon we shall have no independent foreign policy. This process is likely to be accelerated if the Community proceeds with the establishment of a full time political secretariat, to co-ordinate foreign policy between EC members. Are we soon, then, going to have EC ambassadors representing us in parts of the world where we have no embassies at present?

As I pointed out last week, the Dooge report has implications in many other areas, apart from our neutrality. As the Taoiseach has now accepted the principle of a Conference of Governments, with the Dooge report as the agenda, can he now inform the House whether the Government accept the section of the Dooge report which says that a majority of the committee favours the adoption of the new general principle that decisions must be taken by qualified or simple majority? I take it the majority of the committee is the same majority as in Milan — seven to three — and that we were one of the seven. Does that mean that we have accepted, the adoption of the new general principle that decisions must be taken by qualified or simple majority——

I dealt with that matter in my speech.

——and that unanimity will be required only in exceptional cases which will have to be distinctly fewer in number in relation to the present treaty? That, in effect, entails the ending of the right to veto.

I should like to ask the Taoiseach, if the Conference of Governments accept the Dooge report and set about its implementation, and if he has examined any possible areas of conflict with our Constitution. Will he submit the new proposals — to amend the Treaty of Rome, basically — to a referendum of the Irish people before he agrees to them on our behalf? Since the Treaty of Rome was put to the people in a referendum and was incorporated in our Constitution, an amendment of it should surely be put to the people in a referendum.

Finally, I must repeat that the Ten nations of the EC do not constitute Europe, no matter how many times the semantics in "Community speak" may try to persuade us that they do. The Workers' Party welcome the accession of Spain and Portugal to the EC, but remember also the nations which have chosen to remain outside the Community — neutral nations, the northern nations and the socialist states whose social system excludes them from membership. A united Europe of the future will have to include all these countries on the basis of peace, democracy and mutual respect. There is a dangerous tendency within the EC to think in terms of the Community as the second capitalist superpower and economic and military bloc in confrontation with the East. This type of thinking can only increase tensions and the dangers of war. Surely our job should be to maintain close contact with the other neutral nations and through them to work for peace and co-operation between all European states.

That concludes the debate on the Taoiseach's statement.