An Bille um an Aonú Leasú Déag ar an mBunreacht, 1992: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1992: Second Stage (Resumed).

Thairg an Taoiseach an tairiscint seo a leanas Dé Máirt, 5 Bealtaine 1992:
"Go léifear an Bille don Dara Uair."
The following motion was moved by the Taoiseach on Tuesday, 5 May 1992:
"That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
Atógadh an díospóireacht ar leasú Uimh. 2:
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete "now" and to add at the end of the motion "this day two weeks provided that in the meantime the Government has initiated a Government Bill or the Dáil has approved at Second Stage a Private Members Bill, to amend the Constitution providing that Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution shall not be invoked to prohibit or interfere with the exercise of the right to travel to or from the State for the purpose of receiving services lawfully available in other jurisdictions or to obtain, within the State, counselling and information relating to such services subject to such restriction as may be provided by law."
—(Deputy J. O'Keeffe.)

Protocol 17 was put into the Maastricht Treaty at the request of the Irish side with the express intention of giving an added assurance to Irish voters that Europe could not impose legalised abortion in Ireland in contravention of Article 40.3.3º of our Constitution. Subsequent to the signing of the Treaty on 7 February this year, the events of the "X" case caused confusion in relation to Irish law on these matters and it remains the responsibility of this House to legislate for whatever changes in Irish law it deems necessary to deal with the situation. These measures could have been introduced prior to or subsequent on the holding of the Maastricht referendum. Because of the time required to agree on legislative proposals which would cover all the issues which had arisen in connection with the "X" case the Government decided to proceed with the Maastricht referendum first and to come forward with their legislative proposals to deal with the issues arising from the "X" case in the autumn, prior to the coming into force of the Treaty on 1 January 1993.

The Progressive Democrats Parliamentary Party fully support the decision made by the Government to proceed with the Maastricht Treaty referendum before dealing with the unsatisfactory situation that has arisen following the court's decision in the "X" case. Furthermore, we are firmly of the view that it is now imperative that the full attention be focused on the merits and implications of voting "Yes" for Maastricht on 18 June. The Government have made their decision in this matter and will have the support of a majority of the Members of this House for that decision if there is any division on the matter. Along with our Coalition partners we will diligently apply ourselves to establishing the best legislative means available to deal in a compassionate way with the issues that need to be resolved. The parties in Government are jointly committed to bringing forward agreed proposals for decision in the next Dáil session.

The agenda is set. Our people must decide on 18 June whether we continue to participate fully as a nation in the building of a stronger united European Community, whether we want to continue in a Europe which will be united in economic, social, political and monetary objectives and whether we want to continue in a Europe where we can be full partners with equal European citizenship rights. If we do, we vote "Yes". The alternative is to vote "No" to all this progress. If we vote "No" we will allow our economy to stagnate in isolation and our people to lose all hope of ever overcoming our major difficulty of unemployment, of improving their standard of living or of attaining greater equality and social justice and of living a more contented, satisfying and poverty-free life. A "Yes" vote will be a vote for optimism and progress. A "No" vote will be a vote for despondency and stagnation.

It is almost 20 years to the very day since the Irish people voted by referendum to join the European Economic Community. That referendum was held on 10 June 1972 and the "Yes" margin then was 80 per cent. I am confidently expecting a similar percentage to support the Maastricht Treaty on 18 June next.

Of course, critics of our Community membership can rightly claim that not all the expectations and advances proclaimed as flowing from Community entry have been fully realised. However, nobody can deny that this country has made enormous social and economic advances, which extend also to the welfare of those who are unemployed and disadvantaged in our society. Nor would this have been achieved without the boost in national wealth and income which we directly enjoy through our membership of the Community, and the various legislative changes brought into our own domestic code as a result of the adoption here of Community Law Directives.

The Progressive Democrats see the 18 June referendum on Maastricht Treaty as something that will deepen and intensify the union of the 12 member states. It will create from January next a single market facilitating the free movement of people, goods, capital and services, and will, I believe, be a more significant milestone development for this country than our initial decision to join the Community in 1972.

At this stage of our country's development we are inextricably wedded to the European integration process, compared with 1972. Any interruption or disruption of our Community role and participation would have very serious economic consequences for this country. For that, and indeed many other reasons, the Progressive Democrats are enthusiastic advocates of the Maastricht Treaty and deeper European integration. As my Cabinet colleague and our party leader, Deputy Des O'Malley, made clear at our national conference in Waterford last weekend, the Progressive Democrats are a European liberal party and we advocate an open, confident, even generous approach to Europe rather than a begrudging, book-keepers' approach. Moreover our annual conference placed particular emphasis on the vital importance of Maastricht, devoting a very great portion of our deliberations to Europe, and we were also very pleased and honoured that the European Commission Vice-President, Martin Bangemann, took the time to be with us and to address our conference. I believe that his contribution, facilitated by national television coverage, will have brought home very dramatically and positively how the European ideal is genuinely uniting the peoples of the various member states and overcoming cultural, racial and national boundaries. It is enabling us to fulfil the vision of a Community of peoples running from the Aran Islands to the Adriatic and further east.

Therefore, the amount of confusion, exaggeration and deliberately misleading comment, whether to do with issues like abortion or neutrality in relation to what Maastricht really means, is to be greatly deplored. It certainly is not helping the Irish public to come to a clear understanding of the issues involved in the proposed Treaty, or the objective economic and social merits attaching to it.

The Progressive Democrats do not claim that the Maastricht Union picture is all rosy. There are undoubted risks and challenges which will face this country after 1 January next, largely arising from our very peripherality, but we are absolutely convinced that the balance of advantage undoutedly lies with our continued and deepening integration as part of the European Community.

Our dependence as a small island economy on exports of goods and services is almost unique — 70 per cent of all our exports now go to the other Community member states. That underlines the outstanding significance to this country of monetary union and a single currency which is at the core of what the Maastricht Treaty is all about.

The removal of all trade barriers giving us direct access to the European market of 340 million, is of inestimable importance. European Monetary Union will eliminate the exchange risk in all our trade with the other EC countries and it will bring huge savings to Irish business. From an investment point of view it is also likely that Irish interest rates will fall towards the lower EC norm over time. This would be good for business, farming and personal borrowers. Put simply our trade with the rest of the Community is Ireland's bread and butter.

It is undeniable, therefore that our continued full and equal access to the Single Market that will be created from 1 January next, on the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty, is an essential precondition for the continued economic success which we have achieved in this country, and the greater economic growth so essential to tackling the unemployment crisis and the other social problems in our society. There is simply no argument about it. No matter what reservations we might have about Ireland's future within the new European Union, our future within the Community will be undoubtedly much better than any conceivable alternative arrangement if we were left behind in a second division of the Community, or forced to withdraw from it entirely.

It is also worth noting that Europe has been the stimulus for very important advances in many social and economic fields here, other than trade and commerce. Greater equality of rights in the workplace and the home between men and women extending to areas like welfare entitlements, equal pay and social security, has come as a direct result of the adoption here of various EC directives. This process will get greater impetus still from the adoption of the proposed Social Charter which forms part of the Maastricht Union Treaty.

The absolute importance of Community membership for the development of Irish farming is irrefutable, not-withstanding the painful process of adjustment to, and the uncertainty of, the Common Agricultural Policy changes. Whereas 20 years ago, prior to our entry, Ireland depended on Britain for over half our exports, and suffered directly from that country's cheap food policy — by contrast only 17 per cent of our exports at that time went to the other Community states — now our exports to Britain constitute just 27 per cent of our total exports, and the other Community countries are taking 42 per cent of our total exports, and that figure is growing every year.

The Progressive Democrats regard the enhanced sovereignty which Ireland has achieved since our membership in 1973 as being just as important as the social and economic benefits of our membership. Formerly we were too dominated by Britain and our inevitable colonial links with that country. Changes in the British sterling rate automatically affected prices in Ireland and our very economic welfare, but we were not consulted about these changes. We had no such right. We were simply aggrieved bystanders. That is why I simply cannot accept the argument of those critics of European Community membership who claim that Irish sovereignty has been diminished as a consequence of our membership. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since our entry to the Community in 1973, and more importantly our break with sterling in 1979, allied to the fact that Ireland sits as a co-equal around the table of the 12 member states, Ireland's role, its economic security, and its influence is of immeasurable and enhanced value compared to our position in Europe prior to 1973.

So what are the economic downsides of Maastricht? The danger that economic power, wealth and industrialisation will concentrate more and more in the Community's richer mainland regions is a matter of serious concern. That is why the development of top-class speedy and efficient transport networks within our own country, and between Ireland and the major European marketplaces is so important. That, of course, too is where the proposed doubled Structural Funds and the new Cohesion Fund are of enormous significance. The current phase of Structural Funding, likely to total £3 billion by the end of next year, is of enormous importance in helping to improve vital infrastructural links and services in this country. Naturally we look forward to seeing those funds doubled along with the extra assistance of the Cohesion Fund.

The Progressive Democrats are also deeply concerned about the necessity to ensure greater popular accountability within the Community. To that end we want to see greater powers accorded to the Community's only directly elected institution, the European Parliament. We believe that is essential, as more and more powers come to be centered in the Community's executive, namely the Commission, in Brussels, and as the Community deepens in integration terms, that it becomes more democratic and accountable. The European Parliament must be the vehicle for achieving those standards and qualities of accoutability.

I realise too that many people are concerned about the implications for Ireland's traditional policy of neutrality of any possible role we might be called on to play in any pan-European defence arrangements. As I said earlier, the Progressive Democrats' attitude is not a take-all-and-give-nothing approach. That would grossly undervalue the enormous contribution we can make in virtually every field of Community activity, not least security and defence arrangements for the new Europe.

Ireland is already playing an outstanding role in peace-keeping in some of the world's most notorious trouble spots, like Lebanon and Yugoslavia. We believe, therefore, that it is essential that Ireland be willing to play its part, in time, in the formulation of and any eventual common security and defence arrangements for the new Europe of 1993 and thereafter. But those developments are a long way off, if they happen at all.

It is deplorable, therefore, that there is so much misleading propaganda, undoubtedly aimed at inciting fear among the electorate, that adoption of the European Union will lead to the creation of a European army and possible conscription in Ireland. This is simply untrue, and there are no such proposals in the Maastricht Treaty. There is no European army and there are no plans to create one within the Treaty. Nor does the Treaty set up a common European defence treaty.

All decisions on foreign and security policy must be unanimous so Ireland cannot be out-voted. It is intended to hold a further Intergovernmental Conference in 1996 to consider any developments that might arise in the meantime in the area of common defence arrangements, and that will, in turn, require a further referendum here. So there is no question of Ireland now tying its hands in relation to the European security and foreign policy question. It is quite obvious, therefore, in seeking to draw up the inevitable balance sheet on membership, and deepening our integration within Europe from next January, that Ireland's future social and economic welfare is inextricably bound up with Europe.

The case for our involvement in the new European Union is simply overwhelming, and that is why the Progressive Democrats regret the extent to which the focus on the real economic and social issues underpinning Maastricht has become clouded by what is essentially a domestic controversy about abortion which we must settle ourselves.

The Progressive Democrats have already launched a very vigorous pro-Maastricht and pro-Europe campaign. Not only did we make it a major focus of our annual conference in Waterford last weekend, but we have already appointed our MEP Mr. Pat Cox, to direct a national campaign. He has already held a series of public meetings to explain Maastricht in major locations around the country, including my own city of Galway. Further meetings are being arranged by the party all over the country, and we will also be conducting an intensive door-to-door leaflet campaign to get across to the people the vital importance of voting "yes" to Maastricht on 18 June.

The Fine Gael Party have been unequivocal in this House in their support for the Maastricht Treaty. Since the early years of the European Community and our joining it, Fine Gael have had a coherent and consistent approach to our involvement in this great European adventure and to the role this country should play as part of Europe.

We have no doubt that our decision to join the EC in 1972 was the correct decision and substantial economic and political advantages have been secured for our people by the decision. We did not, like the Labour Party, lost in irrelevant Marxist rhetoric, oppose our original entry to the European Community. We have at no stage played cynical political games with our involvement in Europe, such as those played by the Fianna Fáil Party in this House on the Single European Act.

We see the Maastricht Treaty as a further step on the road to achieving a truly federal Europe which will open up new opportunities for our people. The original founders of the European Community saw it as laying down the economic and political foundations for a lasting peace in Europe. It was a response by European democracies to the horrors experienced during the Second World War and a political initiative intended to ensure that this could not be repeated. The continuing evolution of the European Community which came about through the Single European Act, and now through Maastricht, should be seen as the building bricks constructed on the foundations that we originally laid when the Community was founded.

The increased economic and political co-operation between member states of the European Community has ensured a level of economic and political stability which would not have otherwise come about. The troubles that now beset so many parts of Eastern Europe, which have resulted in the fragmentation of states and the resurgence of ethnic, religious and national rivalries, causing widespread bloodshed and localised wars, are a stark illustration of the type of disaster with which we in Western Europe could have been confronted were it not for the idealism and vision of the founding fathers of the European Community.

Much has been said in this House about the direct financial benefits to this State of our continued membership of the Community both prior to and after Maastricht. Particular emphasis has been laid by the Government on the Cohesion and Structural Funds and the Taoiseach's expectation that the country could benefit to the tune of £6 billion in the period 1994-98. Emphasis has also been placed on the value to us of the financial transfers arising under the Common Agricultural Policy and from other areas.

Too frequently this country's role in Europe is portrayed as that of the beggar holding out the begging bowl to richer states. It must be recognised that in tackling our own domestic economic problems and our jobs crisis the merits of our being involved in Maastricht do not derive solely from financial transfers. They derive from the structures that will endure and ensure continued economic and political stability in Europe and which will provide Irish entrepreneurs easy and ready access to a huge and growing market. It is not good enough for the Government, with a begging bowl mentality, simply to urge support for the Maastricht Treaty. It is not good enough to simply talk of the financial transfers from which this State may benefit post-Maastricht. Indeed, in the light of recent developments in Germany, it might be particularly unwise to put the emphasis on this aspect of the Treaty. Coherent and comprehensive Government policies must be put in place to ensure that the monetary benefits that we do derive are not squandered. If we are to achieve cohesion with the rest of Europe and not to languish among the poorer member states of the European Community, we must undertake radical action to tackle the structural difficulties which have created and exacerbated our jobs crisis.

We have in this country almost 300,000 unemployed, that is, 21 per cent of the workforce. We have the worst unemployment record in Europe. It is not the fault of the rest of Europe that we have this difficulty. It is our own fault. We have lacked the vision, competence and commitment to confront this huge problem. Joblessness or emigration have touched practically every family in this State. Whilst this Government, and their Fianna Fáil predecessor, commissioned endless reports on the nature of the problem, sadly the Government have shown no capacity to take any of the tough decisions that are required to confront it. Their sole initiative this year has been to establish a Dáil committee which will, I predict, be nothing more than a talking shop and which will still be sitting talking when the numbers unemployed exceed 300,000.

We will not truly and fully benefit from European political and monetary union until we have a Government prepared to make the domestic decisions necessary to address those aspects of policy which fall within our own domestic political competence. The lack of serious intent on the part of the Government in tackling the unemployment problem is clearly seen in the snide backhanded instant sound-bite response from a so-called "Government spokesperson" to the Fine Gael policy documentThe Jobs Economy published last Monday and which sets out a number of substantial initiatives that could be taken by Government towards tackling the jobs crisis.

Much has been said about the defence and security provisions of the Maastricht Treaty. The Taoiseach made a virtue of the fact that the defence provisions pose no immediate threat to our so-called traditional policy of neutrality. He appeared to be responding to those who advocate a "no" vote on the grounds that we should not contribute to or participate in the defence of Europe. I would pose the question, if we are part of Europe what political or high moral principle demands that we opt out of European defence issues? Would it not be better that we participate in the decision-making process than abdicate to others the power to make decisions which in the modern world will inevitably touch our lives? What high moral principle during and after World War II required this State to be neutral on Auschwitz?

The concept of neutrality, on which we have relied in the past, has been based on no high moral principle but on a political pragmatism and expediency born of an anti-British sentiment and carried on by left-wing politicians into the Cold War era. In the Europe of the nineties this politically redundant and outdated concept of neutrality has and should not have any relevance.

The Taoiseach referred to the benefits that have accured to women from membership of the European Community. It is correct that Community law ensured equal rights of pay to women, equal opportunities, equal treatment with regard to access to employment and equal treatment under social welfare legislation. The Taoiseach went on to take a rather foolish side-swipe at the former Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government with regard to equality of treatment under a social welfare directive. The Taoiseach should be aware that it was the rather foolish play-acting by Fianna Fáil in Opposition in 1986 which created substantial difficulties for the then Government in applying the equal treatment provision. Instead of focusing on the desirability of providing equal treatment for women, the Fianna Fáil Party, true to form, tried to exploit the issue by suggesting that men would lose out if equal treatment was provided and, effectively, politically blackmailed that Government into providing additional financial payments to men at a time when equal treatment was to be provided to women.

I should say I am familiar with this area and I should make a declaration of interest, as it is my law firm that has represented hundreds of women since 1986 who rightly claimed that the additional payments which were made to unemployed men at that time should also have been extended to them.

It has taken a period of five and a half years, and a series of court cases, before the European Court, the High Court and our Supreme Court, for this Government, and their Fianna Fáil predecessor, to finally accept the validity of these claims and to recognise that the action the Fianna Fáil Party took in Opposition in the autumn of 1986 on this issue was contrary to European Community law and turned the principle of equal treatment for women in the social welfare area on its head. In so far as the charge of hypocrisy on this issue can be made, this charge truly rests on the shoulders of the Fianna Fáil Party.

The most extraordinary aspect of the Taoiseach's speech to this House was the absence of a single mention of the Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty. The Taoiseach told those present at a press conference on Wednesday week last that he was now taking a vow of silence on the issue. The vow of silence is understandable considering the fact that both he and his Government have been utterly confused and have been talking total nonsense on this issue for some weeks. I regret to say that my constituency colleague, Deputy Kitt, the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, continued the trend yesterday in his contribution.

Protocol 17 should never have been included in the Maastricht Treaty. There was never any possibility that abortion on demand could be imposed upon this State under the European Community Treaties or under the Maastricht Treaty. Nevertheless, the Government, locked into a 1983 political and legal time warp, insisted on its inclusion on the basis that it would ensure that "the abortion issue" did not become entangled in the referendum campaign. Never has the judgment of a Government on a single issue been proved so wrong so quickly. It is the very existence of this Protocol which has inextricably entangled the abortion issue in the Maastricht referendum. If the Government had not sought the inclusion of such a Protocol the difficulties it has experienced with Maastricht in recent weeks, and the public confusion that has arisen, would never have happened.

The Taoiseach has promised that there will be a referendum on the travel and information issues next November and he has, to the alarm of many women, indicated the possibility of a referendum on the substantive issue, that is the termination within this State of a pregnancy where a mother's life is at real and substantial risk. Moreover, the Taoiseach has stated that if the Maastricht referendum is successful, no further injunctions on travel will be sought by the Attorney General. Such injunctions will be sought apparently if it is unsuccessful.

Conflicting legal opinions and views expressed about the implications of the Protocol have totally confused the vast majority of people and, perhaps, this confusion is all part of the Government's plan. A sometime conciliatory and sometime threatening approach and the now silent approach by the Taoiseach to this issue is fuelling peoples' suspicions as to the true commitment of the Government to address these issues and as to the nature of the proposal it may bring forward next November. If the Taoiseach wishes to truly unravel the abortion issues from the Maastricht Treaty he should accept the amendment tabled by Fine Gael to this Bill and publish a Government Bill to deal with the travel and information issues before Second Stage is complete.

The Taoiseach's failure to mention this issue in his speech — his vow of silence — is extraordinary having regard to the fact that the letter from him contained on the first two pages of the simple leaflet it is intended to distribute to every house in the State in relation to Maastricht gives one half of its content to this issue. It is a typical Fianna Fáil nod and wink communication which attempts to indicate to all shades of opinion that all the issues will be addressed by the Government after Maastricht without saying what particular proposals of substance will be made.

Much play has been made by the Government of the Solemn Declaration which must be put in context. In the European Court, last October, the Attorney General, on behalf of the State, successfully argued that under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution the State was entitled to prohibit information. In the recent High Court and Supreme Court case the State's right to restrict travel was also upheld.

The statement in the Solemn Declaration that the State never intended to rely on Article 40.3.3º or the Protocol to restrict travel or information is, in these circumstances, not only legally absurd but patently untrue. It is of no validity as a guide to the future interpretation of the Protocol by any court and to state, as the Taoiseach did previously in this House, that Article 31 of the Vienna Convention would result in the interpretation contained in the Solemn Declaration being adopted is not, in these circumstances, correct.

It is also noteworthy that following the Minister for Foreign Affairs failing to obtain agreement from other EC states to an amendment of the Protocol, upon his return to Ireland he stated that a solemn declaration would be of little legal value. The Government are now attributing substantial legal value to the same declaration.

Moreover, contrary to what the Taoiseach stated, if the Maastricht referendum is successful, as the Treaty cannot become law until 1 January 1993, its success acts as no barrier either to the Government, the Attorney General or a private group or individual seeking further injunctions on the travel or information issue. Its success, however, does mean that if before 1 January 1993, the Government do not by way of referendum address the travel and information issues and if such referendum is not successful not only will the Attorney General in the future be able to seek injunctions and ban women from travelling to other EC states but women will find that their current right to refer such court cases to the European Court is cut off by the Protocol.

I would hope that at the very minimum the Government would agree to publish the wording of a proposed amendment to be made to the Constitution to deal with the travel and information issues before the vote takes place on the Maastrich Treaty. The Government can also indicate their good faith in this context by telling the House what steps, if any, they intend to take with regard to the case that is due to be heard on 17 July next in the High Court.

On that date, the case of SPUC v. Grogan will be dealt with. It is in this case that the Attorney General in the European Court, last October, successfully argued that the European Court could not intervene to prevent injunctions being granted to stop students distributing information. The Taoiseach should state whether the Attorney General will intervene in these court proceedings to ask the High Court to remove existing injunctions on the giving of information or whether the Attorney General will support the making of these injunctions permanent. If the Taoiseach is promising no further injunctions after the Maastricht vote, if it is successful he should have little difficulty in clarifying the Government's approach to this court case.

I have already remarked that the Government's approach on this issue, over the past few weeks, has been confused and contradictory but that that confusion may have been deliberate. It can, I think, be best summed up by a quotation from George Orwell's extraordinary book1984 in that it clearly falls within the concept of what Orwell described as “double think”. He stated that:

Double think means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously and accepting both of them. The party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of double think he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and a sense of guilt

. . . . . The essential act of the party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while generally believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensibly necessary. Even in using the word "double think" it is necessary to exercise double think. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with realities; by a fresh act of double think, one erases this knowledge...Ultimately, it is by means of double think that the party has been able — and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years — to arrest the course of history.

The party Orwell was speaking of was not, of course, the Fianna Fáil Party. It would be difficult, however, on this or any other issue to find a better statement of political philosophy that so simply and comprehensively describes the approach of Fianna Fáil to substantial and difficult issues of major importance. I have said enough on the issue of the Protocol. If the Government will not deal with this issue properly in advance of the Maastricht referendum, it will be the duty of Members of this House to do everything within their constitutional power to ensure that the Government keep their commitment to address these issues properly in the autumn.

I would finally on this issue sound a warning specifically to Fianna Fáil that they should not again attempt to politically exploit this issue and mislead the Irish people as they did in 1982 and 1983. The overwhelming majority of people want a constitutional and legislative solution, reached by political consensus and based on the social realities of our current problems. If Fianna Fáil seek to expediently exploit the abortion issue in the context of a general election the people will exact retribution on that party and they will be thrown out of office.

At all times it has been the wish of Fine Gael to address these issues by consensus and not by confrontation. In so far as there has been confrontation it has been caused by the bizarre and contradictory pronouncements and poses adopted by the parties in Government. Unlike Fianna Fáil in 1983, we have not been hiding in the long grass seeking an opportunity to politically ambush the Government. At all times we have sought to constructively resolve the real difficulties arising from the Supreme Court case and the dilemma created by the Protocol for so many people. Indeed a dilemma has been created for many women in this country who recognise the benefits of the European Community and who are committed to the European ideal and who have grave concerns about voting for Maastricht while the Protocol remains part and parcel of the Treaty process and while the Government remain silent on the substantive detail of the proposal they intend to bring before the people in November next.

I want to conclude by reiterating my party's and my own personal support for the Maastricht Treaty. I also want to sound a final warning to the Taoiseach. If the Maastricht referendum is successful, as I hope it will be, let it not be misinterpreted by the Taoiseach, by the Fianna Fáil Party or by political commentators as some sort of personal political victory for Deputy Albert Reynolds as Leader of Fianna Fáil. If the Maastricht referendum succeeds it will not be because of the Taoiseach but despite him. If it succeeds it will be because Fine Gael have given strong public support to it and have not sought to exploit the fear and confusion that has arisen from the inclusion of the ill-considered Protocol or the Government's failure to address the issues arising under the Protocol prior to the referendum on European Political Union. If it succeeds it will also be because Irish people over the years through membership of the EC have made a commitment to the European ideal and will not be distracted from their commitment to it by Government incompetence.

Wexford): Twenty years ago the people of this nation voted by a four to one majority to join the European Economic Community. Over those 20 years great strides have been made both economically and socially. Of course there has been a down side and the charge has often been made that certain sectors of our community have benefited more than others. This may be so, but on balance I would contend that Ireland and its people have gained enormously by being members of the EC. The Treaty on European Union is the engine which will drive the European Community for for foreseeable future. If we reject that driving force we will at best stand still, while in all probability our European partners will move ahead without us. We have been part of the European Community for almost 20 years. We have derived enormous benefits from our membership. If we say “yes” to the Maastricht Treaty these benefits will increase.

There is clearly a number of wide ranging aspects of our commitment to the future of the EC but I propose to concentrate on those areas which are generally within my own area of responsibility, that is agriculture and food. When people talk of the benefits to Irish agriculture from Community membership they tend to talk in terms of direct monetary transfers from Brussels. While these have been substantial, they are only part of the advantages which we enjoy. We are a trading nation; we have to export some 70 per cent of our agricultural output. Membership of the EC gives us access to a relatively high priced market of 340 million people. In addition, as a member of the largest trading bloc in the world we receive assistance from Community funds which allows us to compete more effectively on world markets while providing a reasonable return to our farmers. If we drop out of the EC or become a partial member, we can no longer expect to derive comparable benefits or to influence policy direction either internally or internationally in negotiations such as those which are ongoing in the GATT. Despite the complaints we frequently hear about the inadequacy of Community support for our agriculture, the position of farming and the economy as a whole would have been far worse if we had not been in there at the negotiating table.

The agriculture and food industry plays a major role in our economy, accounting directly for 10 per cent of our GNP. Agriculture and its associated upstream and downstream industries provide employment for over 160,000 people. This is almost 20 per cent of total employment in the country. Of our net foreign earnings over 40 per cent comes from the agriculture, food and drinks sectors.

The Common Agricultural Policy is the primary framework through which Community support is provided to agriculture. In addition, support from the EC Structural Funds — through headage payments, farm improvements measures, rural development initiatives and so on — has also made a significant contribution to agriculture and rural areas and support for the latter in particular will increase significantly in a post-Masstricht situation.

The Common Agricultural Policy was the first common policy adopted by the original Community of Six. The objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy are set out in Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome and are to increase agricultural productivity, ensure a fair standard of living for farmers, stabilise agricultural markets, guarantee regular supplies of food, and ensure reasonable prices for consumers. That Article also provides that in working out and applying the Common Agricultural Policy account has to be taken of the structural and national disparities between the various agricultural regions and the fact that agriculture constitutes a sector linked to the economy as a whole. We must also bear in mind the importance of agriculture to Ireland. Those latter requirements are more strongly reaffirmed in the cohesion provisions of the Maastricht Treaty.

The Common Agricultural Policy is based on three principles: single market, Community preference and financial solidarity. It is worth dwelling on what is meant by these principles and how they apply to Ireland. The Single Market ensures that commodities, including agricultural products, are able to move freely between member states. I have already mentioned how access to the vast Community market helps us. It is worth considering what would have happened if we did not have access to that market. This aspect is particularly important in relation to assertions from certain quarters that Ireland has derived no benefits from EC membership and that we would have fared just as well if we had not joined. At the time of our entry into the EC we were very dependent on the low priced UK food market for outlets for our agricultural goods. If at that time the UK had joined and we had not, the second principle of the Common Agricultural Policy — Community preference — would have operated. Under this, priority would have been given to EC produce over that of countries outside the Community because EC markets are protected from the excessive effects of imports by means of levies and other mechanisms. Effectively then, if we had not joined the EC, our access to the UK market would have been severely restricted. By joining the Community we not only maintained our access to an improved UK market but also gained access to markets in other member states thereby reducing our reliance on the UK outlet.

If since 1973 we had to trade outside the Community with extremely limited access to Community markets we would have been trading effectively at world prices. I will give some examples of the differences between world and EC prices. In the case of beef the world price is about £1,800 per tonne while the EC price is over twice that level. The EC support price for butter is almost £3,500 per tonne whereas the world price is just one third of that. In the case of wheat the EC price is twice that of the world price. In addition we would not have had any guarantee that even at the lower world prices we could have found markets for all our products because we would have had to compete on third country markets in competition with subsidised exports from the Community and elsewhere.

It is clear to me that if we had been operating in that environment for the past 20 years, Irish agriculture and our agriculture based industries would not be making their current contribution to our economy. While the drift from the land, which is happening throughout the world, has continued since our membership of the Community, there is no doubt that it would have been a total deluge if we had remained on the outside.

I have concentrated so far on those benefits of membership which are not always immediately obvious, or at least which seem to get less attention than the large inflow of funds from the Community. That inflow of funds results mainly from the third principle of the Common Agricultural Policy, that is, financial solidarity. Under this principle the cost of the Common Agricultural Policy is borne by the Community rather than by individual member states. The main costs of the policy arise from the guaranteed prices system for all the major commodities of importance to Ireland — in particular beef, milk and cereals — with intervention purchases of those commodities in surplus supply and export supports for disposal of products on to the lower priced world markets. Supports for agricultural prices together with the structural supports for agriculture and food have resulted in a huge inflow of Community funds since our accession — some £18 billion in today's money terms. Market price supports from Community funds have averaged £800 million per annum and it is obvious that an economy such as ours could not have afforded supports for Irish agriculture of that level or to have funds of that nature available if we were outside the EC.

I have attempted to outline the major benefits which agriculture has enjoyed by virtue of our membership of the EC. But what of the future? Will those benefits be maintained? As is well known, the new Treaty will not change the provisions relating to the Common Agricultural Policy or alter the way in which decisions are taken. But, separately, the future of agricultural support in the Community is under discussion at present in the Council of Agriculture Ministers. It must be admitted that while the Common Agricultural Policy has been a very successful policy for the greater part of its existence, its mechanisms are now in need of reform for a number of reasons. Structural imbalances exist in all the major sectors, which in turn have increased the cost of financing the Common Agricultural Policy and pushed expenditure very close to the ceiling of the agricultural budget. Despite considerably increased expenditure in recent years, farmers' incomes have not been maintained. It is also worth noting that for the Community as a whole some 80 per cent of Common Agricultural Policy expenditure is going to 20 per cent of producers, which is not acceptable. It is clear that these developments have to be addressed and for this reason we in Ireland accept that reforms are inevitable. In any reform of the Common Agricultural Policy we must ensure that the livelihood of family farms is protected in future.

The House will be aware that the Commission has already proposed major reforms of the support arrangements for all the major products of interest to Ireland. The aims of these reforms are: to bring markets into balance by means of production controls, price policy and extensification of production methods; to keep a sufficient number of farmers on the land; to give an enhanced role to farmers as protectors of the environment as well as producers of food; to achieve a more effective distribution of support; and to maintain the position of the Community as a major player in world agricultural trade.

While we did not have any difficulty with the stated aims of the Commission, we had major problems with the way the Commission sought to meet them. But we have participated in the negotiations and arising from these negotiations, the Portuguese Presidency has proposed substantial amendments to the original proposal. Some of these changes are helpful although others are not.

We, in particular, welcome the relaxation of the stocking rate criteria for the disadvantaged areas for all premia, the improvements provided for in relation to the level of the suckler cow premium, the amended payment arrangements for the male beef premium and the retention of the current ceiling for ewe premium payments in the disadvantaged areas. We also welcome the moderation of the proposed price cut for cereals and the proposed full compensation for cereal producers for income losses.

These changes do not go far enough to meet our demands and indeed some aspects of what the Presidency has proposed create even further problems for us. We will continue to participate in the negotiations to seek solutions to our remaining difficulties and we will oppose those which are not acceptable to our farmers and the economy. We will continue to oppose the proposed milk quota cuts and to seek improved premia arrangements in the beef sector. We will also have to ensure that the beef intervention arrangements will effectively underpin the new price level. We also must have measures introduced to tackle our seasonality problems and secure further improvements in the stocking rates and ceilings proposed for the various premia and, of course, we will have to secure assurances that adequate Community resources will be provided on a permanent basis to finance the reforms. This is a vital point for Ireland.

While there has been some movement in the negotiations to date to meet our needs, more is needed. However, I am fully confident that Minister, Deputy Walsh will secure an agreement on Common Agricultural Policy reform which will carry Irish agriculture forward in a confident and prosperous manner, not just for the remainder of this century but well into the third millennium.

Even if we secure what we want in the Common Agricultural Policy reform discussions, supplementary aid will be necessary to maintain the viability of our rural regions. While some progress has been made in strengthening economic and social cohesion under the present round of Structural Funds, differences in the levels of development in the member states continue to be considerable. The need, therefore, to continue along the economic and social cohesion path mapped out in the 1988 reform of the Structural Funds is further recognised and strengthened in the Maastricht Treaty. Following on from Maastricht the President of the EC Commission, Mr. Delors, has already tabled proposals which provide for a doubling of structural funding, including the cohesion element, to be made available to Objective 1 regions under the next round of the Structural Funds. Ireland, as an Objective 1 region, clearly expects to get an equitable share of these new funds, which should be agreed later in the year. Ireland has and is continuing to benefit substantially from the Structural Fund doubling put in place by the Community in 1988.

The Community Support Framework, under which Ireland's plans to take up the increased Structural Funds in the period 1989-93 are set out, provided for a total investment of £1,500 million in the agriculture area over the five year period, of which some £550 million comes from the EC. The measures covered by the framework include specific programmes for Ireland in such areas as rural development, control of farmyard pollution and the Western Package. In addition, Community-wide schemes on headage payments, farm improvement and processing and marketing were revised and updated and increased funding was provided.

The Operational Programme for Rural Development was approved in December 1990. The programme involves over £100 million public funds, of which £60 million are provided by the EC. It supports a scheme of aid for farm diversification, small and community enterprises, rural infrastructure, research and development and marketing in the food industry and training. The programme has created significant opportunities for both on-farm diversification and off-farm income and employment possibilities. There has been a tremendous response to this programme and this only serves to underline the importance to the wider rural community of the new emphasis on rural development in the context of the reformed funds.

Approximately £94 million is being spent under the Operational Programme for Control of Farmyard Pollution, which provides aid for waste storage and animal buildings; 70 per cent of the cost is met by the Structural Funds; 25,000 applications have been approved to carry out vital work which will reduce pollution and protect the environment. There is still considerable unsatisfied demand for this scheme and the new Structural Funds will be essential in enabling us to continue this important work.

The headage schemes have continued to play a major role in helping to maintain farming and the rural infrastructure in our less favoured areas. Following the decision of the EC Commission in 1991, some 72 per cent of Ireland is now classified as disadvantaged and the value of headage payments now runs at about £100 million annually of which 65 per cent is met by the EC.

Aid in the processing and marketing area has helped to modernise and improve the efficiency of our agri-food sector while also contributing to improved product quality. Under the present Community Support Framework investment of £230 million in the processing and marketing area has been provided for. Most of this allocation has already been used up. In the food area I would contend that we have a quality product produced in a green, friendly environment. We must develop value-added products and exploit the potential of the EC market of 340 million people.

The Leader programme is getting underway and will be of major benefit to rural Ireland. We can continue to play an influential role in the development of the Common Agricultural Policy and other Community policies but only if we are full members of the club. There are of course, demands as well as benefits from membership but in my view the latter far outweigh the former. I would, therefore, urge all Deputies to support the motion put down by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I would also ask the people of Ireland at large to vote yes in the Maastricht referendum on 18 June and thereby secure the future of Ireland and its people. In agriculture in particular we have a major opportunity to develop further. I strongly recommend that the people should vote yes on 18 June.

I propose to share my time with Deputy Taylor-Quinn.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I regret that this debate has tended to get bogged down in the irrelevant issue of abortion and in the economic issues of grants and all the rest. The abortion issue is one which was most unfortunately dragged in by the previous Administration in response to certain pressures on them. It has nothing to do with Maastricht. The Community's competences do not extend to abortion and the damage done to our reputation abroad and to our capacity to decide these issues which are important to us at home has been very considerable. On the other side there is the debate about the £6 billion and the various funds. The dreary steeples of Tyrone and Fermanagh that Churchill spoke of have now been replaced by the dreary grants, funds and programmes of the European Community. That is not what it is about.

Let me say briefly what Europe means to me. The Europe to which we belong is the Europe of the Indo-European culture from which almost all our languages in this Continent derive. It is the Europe in which different branches of that culture matured in Greece and Rome, later absorbing and developing the Christianity that had found its roots in Palestinian Judaism. It is the Europe that created Western Christendom with its unique achievements in art, literature and music and with its philosophical and scientific discovery and technological achievement. It is the Europe whose people's unique cultural interaction gave all this to the world, an interaction which was both fruitful and destructive. It was the way the different cultures interacted with each other that created the vitality that gave us so much of what is now the world's culture. That interaction was at times over-competitive, dangerous and in this century carried to the point of virtual self-destruction as far as our Continent was concerned. But for our generations of the second half of this century, those represented in this House and our children, the Europe with which we are concerned is the Europe that incredibly, magnificently, belatedly faced down the disintegrative forces that threatened to destroy it and created from this chaos the new ideals that in the century to come will, I believe, transform the world.

We do not advert enough to what these ideals are. Think of the revolutions that have taken place in the past half century in the way people are beginning to think of their world. The first revolution, chronologically, was that which made human rights into something that transcends national sovereignty. It was inconceivable 50 years ago yet today it is routine for somebody who in this or any other State feels that their own judicial system does not cater for them properly and is in some way being unjust to go to Europe, to Strasbourg, to put their case and to have their own Government overruled so that their rights can be vindicated. Something that nobody could have conceived possible 50 years ago is the norm for us today. That is a revolution in world history without compare, but it is only one of a number that have taken place in Europe in the past half century.

There has been that revolution that has banished war as an instrument of policy in settling disputes between states within our part of this Continent. Conflict of that kind is inconceivable for this purpose, yet 50 years ago war was not merely accepted as a last resort but was the preferred policy of states in certain circumstances. If they thought they could win it was a more secure way of securing their objective than negotiation. That has gone. Nobody could conceive of acting in that way. That mood of peace, created in western Europe by the intellectual force and dynamism of some remarkable people in the aftermath of the last war has spread beyond these issues of internecine quarrels. In continental Europe in many countries there is a great reluctance even to contemplate war in the face of external aggression. There was a marked lack of enthusiasm in many European countries for the Gulf War. They sent naval and air forces but no more. This was regarded in macho America and Britain as an act of cowardice but it seems to me that at last people are waking up to the fact that war is something one should be very slow about indeed. That has come from Europe and it is an infection that will spread. Already it has spread to north western Europe. I do not think Poland, Czechoslovakia or Hungary are countries that could be conceived as possibly using war again as an instrument of policy. Hungary, with all its grievances about Romania and its fears and concerns about what the Serbs are doing to Hungarians and with their history of past conflict and pride, has not thought of resorting to war or violence in defence of its interests. That infection has spread.

Then there is the third revolution, that which has replaced colonial exploitation within half a century by the opposite concept, not of extracting wealth from the poor to feed the rich but of transferring wealth from the rich to help the poor. It is inadequate and not always well motivated or well directed but nevertheless the accepted wisdom now is that this is the way transfers go. Nobody thinks any longer of the developing countries as ones from which we draw wealth to support us. We feel we have a duty to help them. We may not do it sufficiently but that is the direction in which the flow goes. That is a total reversal of everything that has happened in history in that area.

Fourth, there is the environmental revolution and the acceptance that global action is required to preserve our world environment. All these revolutions are European in inspiration and origin. Even at this moment, where is the drive coming from to make the Rio conference a success? It is not coming from Japan or from the old countries of the CIS with their appalling pollution. It is not coming from the US, which is being pushed by Europe grudgingly to accept that they must make some contribution. This is where the dynamism comes from. Aid to the developing world does not come from the United States. Their aid is nearly as poor as ours as it has been reduced under this Government. What there is of it goes mainly in military form. The Soviet Union never gave much aid and what it did give was military. Aid has begun to come from Japan but only very recently. That stimulus came from Europe and the whole concept is a European one to redress the damage done by colonialism in the past.

Then there is the gentler European form of capitalism and the concept of society in which the poor are seen as victims, not failures, where social security is seen as favourable to rather than damaging economic growth and where the gap between rich and poor is progressively narrowed by State action instead of widened as in America and Britain and where conspicuous consumption is discouraged rather than glorified. This is the form of capitalism which exists in many countries in western Europe, as was pointed our recently by a visitor to our shores who has written a book on the subject, Michel Albert, in contrast to the neo-American capitalism which is concerned with `get rich quick' financial deals in the Stock Exchange rather than investment by banks. That is the kind of society that is building up in Europe and it is much closer to our ideals.

These are the real issues — what kind of Europe there is to be and can we strengthen our confidence sufficiently to preserve and extend these ideals so that they will spread worldwide or are they to be eroded by the mass culture coming across the Atlantic? That is what this is about, not about grants, programmes or loans and certainly not about neutrality.

This is the Europe that the liberated countries of the East wish to join, the Europe that the neutral states of Scandanavia and central Europe are being drawn to. This new European Union, in the aftermath of the Cold War, is seen by them as a force for peace.

But what do we hear from the so-called left wing in this country? They talk as if the Cold War were still in progress, they talk in meaningless terms. They want Ireland to opt out of that into which the neutral countries of Europe wish to become members. The president of Switzerland recently announced his country's proposal to seek membership. The attitude that Ireland is so pure that we must not tarnish our hands by working with the Swiss, the Swedes, the Austrians, the Finns, the Dutch and the Danes to transform European foreign policy into a force for peace in the world — no, we must keep away from that — is not what the Maastricht Treaty is about. Ireland must join in and share in what is being done in Europe. It is our Europe, we belong to it and we have the right and the duty to participate.

Instead of asking all the time what we might get from the European Community — in this House we hear of nothing other than the benefits that might accrue to Ireland — do we ever ask ourselves what we have contributed to the Community? The first time I met Chancellor Schmidt in a bilateral meeting he asked me: "Dr. FitzGerald, I know what the Community is doing for Ireland but could you tell me what Ireland is doing for the Community?" That was a fair question and it required some presence of mind to produce a quick answer.

At that time we were committed to the concept of European economic and political integration. The contrast between our stance and that of Britain and Denmark, the other two new member states, was striking. Ireland was committed to the protection of the role of Community institutions against the great powers and in those years we did succeed in heading off the threat of a European directorate and protecting the role of the Commission, so important to us and to the future of Europe. We were playing an active part, with others, inside the system in trying to ensure the Community's success and its preservation.

I do not know how much of that goes on today. If anything has been done by this Government, it has been done with remarkable secrecy. One hears of nothing but what the Government are doing to get money for this country from Europe. The figure of £6 billion is all that is talked about, a figure that I would not use because we are not certain that we will get that amount.

Certainly, there will be very substantial sums available, but that is not the important thing. The important thing is not the sums that we will get in grants — although they will help to increase our growth rate — but the Europe we are joining, what it will be about, the way in which we can contribute to it and what role we can play in it. We have benefited greatly from Europe although we have not yet given that much in return. It is Europe that, after all, transfers to Ireland some 6 per cent in addition to our resources every year. Europe has given us access to its markets, a measure that has stimulated Ireland's exports to grow faster than those of any other member state and has, therefore, stimulated a growth in output.

Ireland has been able to catch up with its northern neighbours, so that today the output per worker in Ireland is at the same level and holds the same purchasing power as the output per worker in Britain or Denmark, the other two member states who joined the Community with us, and Ireland was well behind in that regard when joining the Community 20 years ago. That achievement is often not realised because in the same period Ireland had, because of its birth rate, a huge increase in the dependent population and children. The extra resources per worker had to be spread among a growing number of dependants. Our living standards have not increased any more rapidly than those of the rest of Western Europe but they would have declined very considerably had our growth rate merely been the same as theirs, as the number of our dependants was growing and theirs was shrinking. Because we achieved an increased growth rate so much faster than the rest of Europe the advantages we secured from that have enabled us to provide for the hugely increased number of people in this country an increase in living standards to match that offered by the rest of Europe.

Although no one recognises it, we have also had a growth in non-agricultural employment at one of the fastest levels in Europe, bettered only by Portugal and Greece. That growth has not been sufficient to cope with the consequences of our past birth rate. Having the birth rate peak in 1980, decades after every other country, at a very high level, meant that problems were bound to come up. How much worse would those problems have been had Ireland not had a rapid growth in non-agricultural employment and a slightly slower decrease in agricultural employment than that experienced in the rest of Europe, things which happened as a result of our membership of the Community?

Now the last obstacle to our access to this great market is to be swept away in the abolition of the multiplicities of currencies. The crucial point about the Maastricht Treaty is that we are to secure a share in that hitherto most jealously guarded sovereignty of our partners, including even the most powerful partner, Germany, the sovereignty over fiscal and monetary policy. The use of that sovereignty by major powers for national purposes, often without adequate regard for the interests of others, has in the past — and could so easily do again in the future — damaged the interests of a small state such as Ireland. We now have the opportunity to share in that sovereignty. Instead of a state such as Germany taking a unilateral decision that suits its particular interests in regard to issues such as interest rates, such a decision will be taken by the whole of Europe, us included. We will play our part. As a result, because of the co-ordination of policies that that will entail and involve, the growth rate of Europe might resume, because it has been held back by the high interest rates, which are in part at least a consequence of the way in which macro-economic policy has been directed by states in their own interests and not in the interests of the whole of Europe. That and the opportunity to join in making Europe a powerful force for peace in the world are the things that the Maastricht Treaty is about; those are the things we should be debating and discussing in this House.

Fine Gael have always been a pro-European party. In the late sixties the Fine Gael Party recognised the importance of becoming part of the European Community and in the 1972 campaign our party were very much to the fore. At that time Deputy FitzGerald was one of the prime campaigners on behalf of the Fine Gael Party to ensure support for the European Community. At the same time, the Labour Party were very strongly campaigning against entry into Europe. Indeed, my former lecturer in political science, now the Labour Party spokesman on foreign affairs, was actively involved in that campaign. It is unfortunate that today there are still some in this country who believe that to go that further step towards European integration is unwise.

We are greatly indebted to the founding fathers of the European Community. One needs only to look back on history to realise the devastation, destruction and torture that existed in Europe after the Second World War. If it were not for those very fine-minded people, we could now be facing into a further war within Europe, the ingredients for which are very much evident right across Europe. We in Ireland, on the periphery of Europe, should recognise the importance to us of peace in Europe. Right now we should recognise the dangers arising in Yugoslavia and in the broken apart former USSR. There is a great instability in the whole of Eastern Europe and we, as a member state, have an obligation to be very much part of efforts to ensure that a major crisis does not arise there.

It is disappointing that some people have taken a scaremongering stance in the campaign, particularly in relation to our defence position. The Maastricht Treaty very clearly defines that it does not have anything to do with commitment to a defence union. It is also clearly in the agreement that the common foreign and security policy will be a matter for member states to deal with and that the issue of defence will be discussed in 1996 at an intergovernmental conference. It is stated that all decisions taken between now and 1996 in relation to any defence element would have to be unanimous. That is important. It is imperative that Irish parents who are at the moment concerned that their sons or daughters may be conscripted into a European army have that fear put aside because it is completely untrue and is without foundation within the Maastricht Treaty.

I am disappointed that the Government, in the course of decisions in the lead up to the Maastricht Treaty, did not take a much stronger line in relation to greater involvement in the issue of defence. It is unfortunate that the Government handed over to the nine member states who are members of the Western European Union certain authorities and controls in relation to defence. That has been done in this Treaty. The Government were not prepared to par-take fully in what was going on. It would have been much more proper for the Government to engage themselves in promoting an ideal in which the 12 member states combined would form part of a defence union. It would have been better for the Government to promote that idea rather than hand over certain authorities to the Western European Union. I believe that to be a weakness in the Maastricht agreement. Undoubtedly, we will eventually have to partake fully in a defence union. It is only right and proper that we should.

Perhaps it is timely for us to examine our history in relation to neutrality. Records which have been published recently show that our neutrality was not based on any serious moral standing but that it was a tactical approach adopted by the Government at the time. Privately the Government supported the Allies. We could have a long academic debate on how real our neutrality is. With the type of weapons used in modern warfare, neutrality is a non-issue. As members of the European Community we should recognise that we are in a position to bring peace to Europe, to negotiate disarmament and to ensure that some of our member states who at the moment sell arms to Third World countries will be restricted in that activity.

This Government and future Governments, looking at the lead-up to the Maastricht debate, should realise that the Government should never ignore Dáil Éireann on a matter of serious national importance. Matters of national importance should be discussed openly and constructively in this House before Ministers go to Europe. Having regard to the unfortunate insertion of Protocol 17, it was most unfortunate that the Government had not the honesty to come into this House first to have the matter debated. If that had been done we would not be in the difficulty in which we find ourselves today. I would urge the Government and the Taoiseach to publish a Bill with regard to the right to travel and information prior to the referendum on Maastricht on 18 June. It is unfair to ask the women of Ireland, and all decent voters, to vote on this issue without having the matter fully clarified first. As the law stands, women of child bearing age are not free to leave the country but could be subject to injunctions. If a woman is pregnant she would have to prove that she was not travelling for an abortion and if she was not pregnant she would have to prove it. A basic civil right is being put at risk. Many people feel that by voting for Maastricht that civil right will be further interfered with. There is an onus on the Government to ensure that the matter is fully clarified. The Government have their own wording for the proposed amendment to the Protocol and they have the Fine Gael wording. I would ask them to please put them in the form of a Bill to be put before the House. The Government should not jeopardise the passing of the Treaty by their inaction on this issue.

Without taking from anything Deputy Taylor said, I always love to hear Deputy Dr. FitzGerald, who has been a European for many decades. The Deputy gave a very clear explanation of some of the issues. It is heartening to hear him put so clearly what this is really about.

By now Deputies have had an opportunity to examine the White Paper on European Union and many have contributed to the discussions which have followed its publication. I do not propose to take up the time of the House with a further summary of the shape of the proposed Economic and Monetary Union. Instead I should like to focus on some of the critical comment which has been made both within this House and without so as to lay to rest unfounded arguments which have been advanced.

There have been claims that the Treaty provisions on European Monetary Union commit Ireland to a decade of deflation as we strive to maintain our currency as strong as the Deutsche Mark as a precondition for replacing it by the single currency in the third stage of European Monetary Union. Indeed, a number of Deputies, including Deputies De Rossa, Higgins and Spring, made reference during the debate to this possibility. Implicit in this argument is the idea that in European Monetary Union we will be following a course which is radically different to that which we have been pursuing to date. Those who advance this argument seem to ignore the facts of our membership of the European Monetary System, our total acceptance of the disciplines which that has imposed on us, our success in establishing ourselves as one of the core countries within that system and our success in bringing our public finances under control in the past few years.

I should like in particular to examine the four conditions which must be met if a member state is to participate in the third stage of European Monetary Union as it is this aspect of the Treaty which appears to be exciting most fear of deflation. The three criteria which are most readily quantifiable are as follows. Firstly, an inflation performance that does not exceed by more than 1.5 per cent that of the three best-performing member states in terms of price stability. The simple fact is that we already meet their criterion, being indeed one of the best performers. Secondly, an average nominal interest rate on long term Government bonds that does not exceed by more than 2 percentage points that of the three best-performing member states in terms of price stability. Again, this is a criterion which we meet today. Thirdly, a two-year observance of the 2.25 per cent band of the Exchange Rate Mechanism of the EMS without experiencing severe tensions and without a devaluation on its own initiative. Again, this is a criterion which we meet comfortably. For us, therefore, the point at issue in these three criteria is not that of striving towards some impossibly difficult goal but that of aiming to maintain thestatus quo.

It is the fourth and final criterion, namely, that relating to the avoidance of excessive budget deficits, which is less susceptible to immediate judgment as to whether or not it is being satisfied. That is because the specific figures mentioned — namely, a deficit of 3 per cent of GDP and a debt/GDP ratio of 60 per cent — do not have the same absolute character as those contained in the other criteria. It is also because the whole process is geared towards allowing for the exercise of political judgment at the conclusive stage of the assessment. A member state will not have to have a debt/GDP ratio of 60 per cent before it can qualify for the final stage of European Monetary Union. What is of relevance is the trend in that ratio and the speed with which it is coming down. Who would deny that it is not a desirable aim for us to reduce our debt ratio from its present high level? We have already secured a considerable reduction in it — from 117 per cent in 1987 to 95 per cent in 1991. It is the Government's firm intention to continue on the course which we had already charted long before this matter was relevant to our participation in the final stage of European Monetary Union.

Our budget deficit is already below 3 per cent of GDP and the Government intend to keep it below 3 per cent. This will automatically result in the debt/GDP ratio continuing to fall from its present level. Thus the European Monetary Union requirements do not require us to do anything other than what we had already intended to do. It is noteworthy that, following a recent review of the Irish economy by ECO/FIN, the Finance Ministers concluded that Ireland at present meets all the criteria for entry to Stage III.

Some opponents of European Monetary Union have criticised the criteria for budgetary discipline but they have not indicated a plausible structure in their place. It has been suggested, for instance, that there is some magic solution such as refusing to service our national debt or otherwise avoiding our contractual obligations. These are not options: they are recipes for disaster. A great deal of international investment which comes our way nowadays represents the combined savings of foreign pension funds and insurance companies. Any attempt on the part of the Government to avoid their debt-servicing obligations would have such a traumatic effect on the confidence of such investors in the Irish economy that it would more than blot out any beneficial effects of the initial action. Moreover, the consequences for the cost of refinancing debt in future would be catastrophic. This realisation is the real reason why this approach is totally ruled out by responsible governments everywhere. This approach is not generally discussed by governments because discussing it could give it a credibility which it simply does not warrant.

I have spent some time on the criteria for entry into the third stage of European Monetary Union because they are central to many of the criticisms which have been levelled against the European Monetary Union section of the Treaty. However, we need to stand back and take a calm look at just what is being criticised — low inflation, low interest rates, exchange rate stability and a sound budgetary position. These are the canons of good financial management which should be pursued for the tangible benefits they will yield in their own right.

With all other member states acting in accordance with these principles of sound management, the burden which budget deficits place on monetary policy today will be lifted. That will allow scope for generalised reductions in interest rates and will boost business and consumer confidence throughout the Community.

Lower interest rates have a particular significance for those countries with high levels of debt. It is a matter of fact that even a one percentage point reduction in EC interest rates would be of great direct benefit to the Exchequer, the large State bodies and private sector borrowers in general. A reduction in interest rates would be clearly visible in a reduction in the cost of servicing the national debt. Indirectly it would stimulate investment and economic activity. It is ridiculous to suggest that a reduction in interest rates is not of immediate value either to people struggling to service a mortagage or to a business carrying a large debt. There is no doubt that a reduction in interest rates is the one development which feeds through immediately to ease the pressures on both Government, mortgage holder and the business person. In addition, by reducing the cost of capital, it encourages new investment.

Lower interest rates and the improved confidence stemming from budgetary discipline by all member states should combine with the dynamic of the Single Market and European Monetary Union to raise growth in the Community. In fact, the overall result is likely to be a long period of sustained non-inflationary economic expansion and not the decade of deflation which the prophets of doom would have us believe.

Criticism has been levelled at the alleged lack of balance between the economic sections of the Treaty and the monetary sections. Specifically, comments have been made concerning the apparent inequality between the European Central Bank, a single body in charge of monetary policy, and the more diffuse structure represented by the economic authority which is ECO/FIN. Fears have been expressed, in emotive terms, of a Europe run by central bankers.

There are two elements I should like to address in dealing with this issue. The first concerns the procedures designed to facilitate interaction between the European Central Bank, ECO/FIN, the Commission and the European Parliament. The second concerns the way in which economic policy itself will operate within European Monetary Union.

The Treaty provides for a range of checks and balances which are designed to regulate the relationship between the ECB and ECO/FIN in particular. The president of ECO/FIN and a member of the Commission will attend, as of right, all meetings of the ECB and will be able to participate actively in those meetings. In this way, the political input into the bank's deliberation will be considerable. In turn, the president of the Governing Council of the bank will be entitled to attend all meetings of ECO/FIN where matters bearing upon the function of the bank are under discussion. The president of ECO/FIN will also be entitled to submit a motion for discussion by the Governing Council of the bank. In this way, matters which are of concern to the political authorities will be brought immediately to the attention of the bank. Transparency in the ECB's reporting arrangements will also mean that the European Parliament will have the opportunity, at least once a year, to debate in full the monetary policy stance of the Community.

While the Treaty does not purport to set up an EC super Ministry of Finance, it does provide for a significant deepening of co-ordinating among Finance Ministers on the ECO/FIN Council beyond what exists at the moment. In particular, the new Treaty allows for a progressive approach to economic policy making which will allow the Community's competence in this area to develop gradually over time. Already, through the instrument of multilateral surveillance, the Community has taken its first decisive steps in the direction of a more integrated approach to economic policy making. In this context, the Community has begun its examination of the convergence programmes of member states, including that of Ireland last February. This brings a Community dimension to policy making which enables national programmes to be measured against common Community values and for inconsistencies and tensions to be discussed and resolved at a Community level.

The framework offered by this increased co-ordination provides Ireland, and other member states, with the opportunity to tackle the unemployment problem at both national and Community levels. It is not true to say that unemployment is overlooked in the Treaty. On the contrary, the need to promote a high level of employment is clearly identified as a major task of the Community. I would go so far as to say what the economic policy co-ordination envisaged would be meaningless if it did not have as a fundamental aim the reduction of our present high level of unemployment.

Deputies will be aware that the economic policy provisions in the Treaty are backed up by three specific rules in the economic area. Briefly they are: no monetary financing; no bail-outs and the avoidance of excessive budget deficits. I do not intend to discuss these in detail on this occasion, but the sanctions aspect of the budget deficit rule is one on which I should like to focus since there has been some misunderstanding as to its significance. Deputies will recall that sanctions such as financial penalties and fines will come into play in the excessive deficit procedure during the third stage of European Monetary Union. I would like to emphasise that these sanctions are intended for use as a last resort when all else has failed. As indicated in the White Paper, the entire procedure in this area is predicated upon the presumption of good budgetary behaviour. It is only in the most extreme cases, where the recklessness of a member state was undermining the stability of the union, that sanctions would be imposed.

I would also like to state firmly that derogation from the budgetary rules of European Monetary Union is simply not an option. If any member state were to seek such a derogation it would be a clear signal to all economic agents that it intended to abandon any commitment it had to budgetary discipline. It would also be telling its partners that it was not interested in proceeding to European Monetary Union. I need hardly spell out the economic and budgetary consequences for Ireland of such a step.

Another issue which has been raised is that of sovereignty and, specifically, the loss to our sovereignty which European Monetary Union will bring about. When we joined the EMS we did so in the appreciation that adherence to a strong currency group would bring with it certain tangible benefits. These benefits justified the sacrifice of much of our autonomy in the monetary area. European Monetary Union goes a step beyond this. Instead of a system dominated by the Monetary policy and currency of a particular member state, with all that implies in terms of influence and control, a single monetary policy and currency representing the interests of all member states will be created. Their implementation and management will be a matter for the European Central Bank, on whose main decision-making council Ireland will have an equal voice with those of the central bank governors from other member states.

Similarly, in the economic area, we are pooling our sovereignty rather than yielding it up. But that is a factor which will rebound considerably to Ireland's benefit. The greater co-ordination of economic policy-making will create for us a more certain and stable external environment which will, moreover, be conducive to economic growth. It is in such circumstances in the past that Ireland has recorded its best economic performances.

It is easy to criticise the new Treaty provision on European Monetary Union because they do not provide for certain things. What I have in mind here is the criticism which has been levelled at the fact that no provision has been made for fiscal transfer mechanisms of the kind which are current in existing federations. However, the Treaty on European Union, as such, does not seek to establish a federation. In the absence of the political solidarity which such a federation would signify it is unreal to bemoan the absence of automatic transfer mechanisms.

Ireland's achievements in the Treaty negotiations were substantial and should not be diminished. We succeeded in securing improved cohesion policies for the immediate future, particularly a new Cohesion Fund. We also got a framework which will enable the Community to develop new cohesion mechanisms in line with its future evolution. Indeed, this framework would allow at some future date for automatic transfers.

On the subject of cohesion, the existing Structural Funds have strengthened our economy by boosting our growth per annum by about ¼ per cent to ½ per cent higher than would otherwise have been the case. The funds have also resulted in higher employment than we would have attained without their assistance. Last year, there was a net transfer of more than £1,850 million from the EC budget to Ireland. In the five-year period 1989-93, Ireland will obtain more than £3,000 million from the Structural Funds. In the medium to long term, the Structural Funds are enabling Ireland to make significant progress on building up the infrastructure necessary for economic development in sectors such as roads, access transport and sanitary services. They are also contributing to productive investment in industry, tourism and agriculture and to the development of human resources through training and education. Without the Structural Funds, the unemployment position here would undoubtedly be much worse. They have not only helped to create many new jobs already, but the investments which they have assisted will also provide a sound basis on which further jobs will emerge once economic growth resumes.

Deputy Boylan alleged that the Structural Funds were not being distributed evenly within the country. However, the Government have been scrupulous in taking the steps needed to ensure that the benefits of the increased investment are indeed distributed throughout the country. In this regard, I would refer the Deputy to the breakdown of expenditure by sub-region which is shown at page 45 of the White Paper.

Looking to the future of the funds, the Commission has indicated that it will be looking for 11 billion ECU to finance the additional expenditure arising from the priority which the new Treaty assigns to economic and social cohesion. This includes a substantial allocation for the new Cohesion Fund so that, on the basis of Commission proposals, funding in support of the four poorest member states taken together could be doubled.

At this point, it is desirable to confront the assertions of those who say that we have not benefited from Community membership and that we would be better off outside of the Community. This is utter nonsense. It ignores the facts and ducks the realities of international trade in agricultural products and the factors that determine international flows of investment. What are the facts? Since joining the Community from 1972 to 1990: real output, as measured by gross domestic product, has grown by over 87 per cent, or 3.6 per cent per annum, over 1 per cent per annum greater than the EC average; non-agriculturalper capita remuneration increased by 2 per cent per annum in real terms; manufacturing output has increased by 194 per cent; non-agricultural employment has increased by almost 180,000 despite a decline of 45,000 in the early to mid-eighties and our population has increased by an estimated half a million persons.

These are not the signs of an economy that has failed to prosper. Anyone who has been travelling around this country over the past 20 years will have seen the positive signs of our increased prosperity multiply over the period — be it in the quality of our housing stock, the elegance and sophistication of many of our cities, towns and villages, the improved quality of our hotels and restaurants, the quality of our infrastructure and the increased self-confidence of our people. This is not to imply that all the improvements have come from our Community membership, but they have played an important part. Neither is it to imply that all is well and that there is nothing more to be done. We all know that there is much scope for improvement on all fronts. Just as the achievements of the past 20 years have been in part a product of our EC membership, the attainment of further improvements will be enhanced by our membership of a more integrated Europe.

In this respect I have already stated my conviction that European Monetary Union will benefit the Community as a whole by boosting growth and employment and lowering inflation. It is up to ourselves, with the assistance of the Community's cohesion mechanisms, to ensure that we distil the maximum advantage from it.

As I have already indicated, the Treaty underpins our existing commitments and goals in the area of economic policy. Furthermore, by pooling our sovereignty in this area we can combine with our Community partners to create the climate for low inflation allied with sustained, employment-creating growth. This will offer us a sound basis for boosting our employment level and living standards.

A single monetary policy for the Community will see the Irish pound replaced eventually by the ECU. An important consequence of this for intra-Community trade will be the elimination both of transaction costs and of the exchange risk, which will be of special benefit to a small trading country such as Ireland. In addition, given our need for inward investment, the liberal regime which the Treaty prescribes for capital movements is one which is likely to serve our needs well.

All in all, we stand to lose much more than we would gain if we reject the opportunity which is now being offered to us to participate in full European Monetary Union. Our stature in the Community has grown considerably in recent years, not least because of our positive contribution to the evolution of the Community and because of our exemplary results in getting our economy back into shape. We would jeopardise that standing, our status in the financial markets and our attractiveness as a location for investment if we fail to give the new phase of deepening integration our overwhelming endorsement and support.

With the permission of the House, I should like to share my time with Deputy Mac Giolla.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

After very serious internal debate and discussion, the Labour Party have called for a "yes" vote to the Maastricht Treaty. However, in calling for a "yes" vote we will not be campaigning for an uncritical endorsement of the Treaty. We believe that this country will face huge challenges after Maastricht. For the Government to state otherwise is false and untrue.

One of the specific issues about which the Labour Party are particularly concerned is the lack of democracy and accountability in relation to the European institutions as defined in the Maastricht Treaty. I note that in his speech on Maastricht the Taoiseach made no reference to the democratisation of the European institutions. The Government's lack of position with regard to democratisation of the common European institutions calls for clarification. The Labour Party believe that the Maastricht Treaty does not go far enough in opening up and democratising the decision-making process of the Community, particularly by refusing to give increased powers to the European Parliament. The Labour Party maintain that it is necessary to enter reservations in the broader area of democratising the common institutions of the Community and the new Union. The failure to enlarge the powers of the European Parliament or ECOSOC to any significant extent is a major shortcoming, as is the refusal to open the proceedings of the various Councils of Ministers to public scrutiny and, therefore, accountability.

Admittedly, the issues involved in the division of powers between the Parliament and the Council in its various forms are complex and have received too little attention, not least in this country. Nevertheless, a more concrete blueprint for the future could have been expected from the Treaty, given that it is the first venture in the task of creating political union. Maastricht has failed to resolve key problems relating to democracy. This is a serious defect.

The central issue is the balance between the powers of the Council of Ministers and those of the European Parliament, as well as the role of the Commission. The explanatory memorandum accompanying these conclusions notes that the Treaty does not meet the Parliament's demands in offsetting the perceived democratic deficit in the Community, despite the introduction of co-decision making in the 12 policy areas and the Parliament's new role in approving the appointment of the Commission.

There are strong arguments that the European Parliament should be given genuine powers of co-decision in all areas with the right to initiate legislation. It is regrettable that the official Irish position on this point seems to be weak. It might be worth nothing that the Fianna Fáil Party are allied to a small and inconsequential political group within the European Parliament while five of the Irish members of the European Parliament are allied to groups which account for 60 per cent of the representation in the Parliament — the four Fine Gael members belong to the European People's Party and the Labour Party members belong to the Socialist Group. These two groups are basically the great power in the European Parliament. It is sad to think that the remaining ten Irish members belong to a two country group who have little or no influence in the decision making process of the European Parliament. The remaining Irish members of the European Parliament are members of small groups such as the Rainbow Coalition and the Liberals. We will be faced with a dilemma when seeking more powers in the European Parliament, the only democratic institution in the Community, when our voice is fractured, so to speak, in this way.

As powers are transferred from national governments to the Community and as more countries join the Community the influence of the Irish members in the Parliament will undoubtedly be diluted. I have no doubt that, as national powers are transferred to Community institutions, the democratic countries who make up the membership of the Community will demand a much stronger voice for the European Parliament, which, as I said, is the only democratic institution in the EC. This issue has been dealt with very lightly by the Taoiseach in his speech and in the debate on Maastricht. As I said, as time goes by there will be a far bigger demand for more democracy in the European Parliament. I compliment Fine Gael on their suggestion that a second chamber, along the lines of the American Senate, should be established. Smaller countries could have one representative in this senate while larger countries could have two representatives. This suggestion has merit and should be considered in the future.

The German Socialist Party are strongly in favour of the extension of powers for the Parliament. The Labour Party believe that this point should be carefully assessed. We will adopt a policy stance on the interrelationship between various institutions with the objective of ensuring maximum democracy and accountability. The question of democracy within the European institutions is left as unfinished business at Maastricht and could arise again in the context of the Delors II package, future enlargement or the next ICG in 1996. In that regard the Labour Party will devote considerable time and resources to devolving our views on these questions in preparation for any further stage in the integration process, preferably in common with our sister socialist parties. I do not have adequate time to develop this argument but I wish to say it is very important that this issue be dealt with properly in the debate on the Maastricht Treaty.

It is important that all parties in this House realise that when the Maastricht Treaty is accepted — I believe it will be — there will be a demand for more democracy. The Irish voice, rather than becoming weaker in the European Parliament, will be heard more loudly. Being a country on the periphery it is important that our voice is not drowned by the other members — of the 513 members of that Parliament we have only 15. Our position should be clearly and constantly heard within the democratic institution of the European Parliament.

Little is known publicly yet about the Maastricht Treaty. I presume it can be described as a follow-up to the Single European Act, dealing with economic and political union, monetary union, common currency, defence and security commitments and co-operation in justice and home affairs. What must be clarified is that it was agreed before the Treaty was signed by each country in February that to come into effect the Treaty must be ratified by all 12 countries — if one country failed to ratify the Treaty it would not come into effect. This position was clearly understood by all 12 countries, and by all political parties here, including the Government parties. That was made clear by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, as recently as 8 April in the Dáil when he said that if Ireland or any other state should decide not to ratify the Treaty, the Treaty will not come into effect for any state. He added that existing EC Treaties would remain in force and current policies such as Common Agricultural Policy and Structural Funds would remain in place.

It is only in the last couple of weeks that a new line has been peddled by the Government in an effort to strike terror into voters. They said that if we vote no we would be cast into exterior darkness and that the other 11 member states would go ahead without us. This line has been supported by Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats as well as by the Foreign Affairs Minister in Denmark. Of course, the Danes, who are holding a referendum on this matter, are very strongly opposed to the Treaty and their Government are also only too glad to strike terror into their voters.

The position has been clarified once again by the pro-European newspaper,The European, which examined the position that would arise if the Treaty was rejected by the Irish or the Danes, the only two countries that are holding a referendum on the matter. The legal position as outlined by them was that:

The immediate effect of a "No" vote would be that Maastricht becomes null and void for all 12 countries. What happens next is anyone's guess, but we would go back to the existing Treaties.

Naturally, any decisions made afterwards would be made by all 12 member states of the EC. We would still be a member of the EC and, therefore, we would be part of whatever negotiations take place.

While The Workers' Party opposed entry to the EC originally on grounds of huge industrial closures and job losses, which have proved to be only too true, nevertheless we have now committed ourselves to membership of the European Community and have called in recent years for expansion of the Community to include all countries of Europe. This is now becoming a distinct possibility and opens up a very exciting prospect for all of us in the future. However, we are most dissatisfied with the Treaty on European Union negotiated by our Government. The Government did a very bad job in this regard.

The Social Charter, originally one of the main incentives for Ireland joining the European Community, is not part of the Treaty because of British opposition. I know that there is a separate agreement among the other 11 member states but the Social Charter is not part of the Treaty. New Cohesion Funds and improved Structural Funds are purely aspirational and the so-called £6 billion does not exist. There is no mention of that in the Treaty and every day we hear more evidence that it will not be forthcoming from either the Germans or the British.

The issue on which I want to spend my remaining time is the common foreign and security policy, which states in Article J4:

The Common Foreign and Security Policy shall include all questions related to the security of the Union, including the eventual framing of a Common Defence Policy which might in time lead to common defence.

If we vote yes this will clearly commit us to the framing of a common defence policy. Once the policy is framed, naturally the word "might" will be of little significance in the phrase as the organisation of common defence will proceed from the policy. However, common defence is already organised even before the policy is framed, as Article J2 reads:

The Union requests the Western European Union, which is an integral part of the development of the Union, to elaborate and implement decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications. The Council shall, in agreement with the institutions of the Western European Union, adopt the necessary practical arrangements.

Nothing could be simpler or clearer than this; there is no ambiguity. The Western European Union is an integral part of the development of the European Union. Our Government were quite clear on the meaning of this at the time and they objected to these words being inserted in the Treaty. However, those objections were overruled and the Government did nothing further about the matter.

The Government also objected to Article J4.4 which states:

The policy of the Union in accordance with the present Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States under the North Atlantic Alliance Treaty and be compatible with the Common Security and Defence Policy established within that framework.

The policy of the Union, therefore, must be compatible with the common security and defence policy established under NATO.

The text circulated by the EC Presidency at the Summit in December 1991 setting out the views of the Irish delegation on the Treaty — I am indebted to John Maguire and Joe Noonan for this information which was published in their book — states:

It [the Irish delegation] has misgivings about wordings in the current text which establish a direct link between the provisions of the Treaty and the Union and the Security and Defence Policy conducted in the Atlantic Alliance.

It is interesting that we would never have known of the existence of this text but for the fact that Joe Noonan and John Maguire received it from, not an Irish MEP or from any Government source but from a British MEP. Naturally, the objections of the Irish Government were overruled but the Government did nothing further about the matter. They were fully aware that by signing these articles they were signing away our neutrality. If they had any desire to protect our neutrality they could have negotiated a Protocol allowing us to opt out of any security and defence commitments just as Britain opted out of the Social Charter commitments. This would allow the other 11 member states to make whatever provision they wished for security and defence arrangements outside of the Treaty on European Union.

The Government are lying through their teeth on the issue of neutrality. They are supported by Fine Gael who have made it quite clear that they want to dump neutrality as an outdated policy. The Labour Party have accepted the Government line that neutrality does not become an issue until 1996, but that is not true. By saying "Yes" to Maastricht, we are saying "No" to neutrality as a policy. We would be tied to the Western European Union, which is the European army of NATO, and would be committed to defend what are called the fundamental interests of European union against Third World countries. Jacques Delors referred to resource wars because the major resources of the world required by western Europe are in Third World countries.

In the face of what is clearly written in the Treaty, to which the Government objected, how can the Taoiseach say, as he said here on Tuesday, that neutrality is not an issue. He said that no decisions are required under the Treaty by participation in the common defence policy, but that is clearly untrue. It is a grossly dishonest attempt to mislead this House and the Irish people who will be voting on the issue. We are clearly committed in this Treaty to framing a common defence policy.

The Western European Union is an integral part of the union. The Western European Union states retain its nuclear weapons and the policy of the union is to present the obligations of certain member states in NATO and will be compatible with the common security and defence policy of NATO. I am afraid, Taoiseach, that they have you tied up. There will be nothing to have a referendum on in 1996 as we already will have lost our neutrality. We will have lost our international respect. Our role in the United Nations will gradually fade as we become an integral part of what is becoming, in the words of President Jacques Delors, "the European exploiting force". Who will trust us in our role as a peacekeeping force? In fact, it is clear in Yugoslavia at present that the EC is not trusted by either side, and the monitoring team had to leave the area. Only the UN is trusted as a peacekeeping force.

We were very badly served by the Government team negotiating this Treaty. Apart from a promise of money, they got no specific protection for any of Ireland's fundamental interests. In fact they sought to insert this disastrous Protocol on abortion, which is now causing such an unholy mess and is an embarrassment. It is damaging our credibility as a mature nation.

We must try to regain our self-respect by voting "no" and renegotiating some aspects of the Treaty? We must show we are not for sale to the highest bidder. We must also question why there is a great rush to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. Is it because the EFTA countries have applied to join the Community? These countries have very strong economies, they have a strong independent spirit and a tradition of neutrality. Finland have made it clear that they want to retain their neutrality. In fact Ireland's neutrality within the EC was one of the main attractions for these countries to join the Community. They will find that we have let them down before they had the chance to join the Community as we will have sold out on our neutrality by ratifying this Treaty. We have done this for the promise of EC gold.

I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on this matter before we come to the close of this debate. Members do not need to be reminded that the ideals of the European Community were strongly endorsed by the people of Ireland in 1973 when we agreed to Ireland becoming a member of the EC and again in 1987 when we agreed to ratify the Single European Act. This voting support was given twice, not just in recognition of the financial and economic gains which we knew would ensue, but, I believe, from the conviction that politically, socially and psychologically we wanted to be part of the European ideal.

The referendum on the Treaty of the European Union on 18 June will provide an opportunity for the Irish people to reaffirm our commitment to those ideals while making one of the most important and fundamental decisions since the foundation of the State. I am confident that there will be a substantial majority in favour of the Maastricht Treaty — not because of any spirit of complacency but because it will be clear to the innate good sense of the Irish people that this country should, and must, be part of a progressive and outward looking Europe.

Ireland has gained immeasurably in political, social and economic terms since we joined the European Community in 1973. It would be inconceivable for this country not to want to play a full part in the historic developments now being put into place to build a Europe which will not alone be better able to provide improved living standards for its own people but a Europe that will also be a focus for stability, strength and peace in the new international political order which is now evolving from the profound changes that have taken place in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Republics. Ireland as a nation long sought and put up a fight for democracy. We want now to play a positive role in its emergence in other lands.

As Minister for Trade and Marketing I am very aware that the achievements of recent years, which brought our economy back from the brink of economic chaos, would not have been possible without the significant support made available by the Community. Direct financial transfers from the Community amounted to almost £2 billion last year alone in net terms, or almost 6 per cent of our total national income. For every £ 1 we contributed to the budget of the Community we received £6 in return. In addition, the Single Market programme, which will remove trade barriers between the member states of the Community and which will be completed by the end of this year, has already attracted significant investment in manufacturing enterprises in Ireland, particularly from countries such as the United States and Japan, to take advantage of the opportunities which the Single Market will provide across Europe. This investment has been an important factor in the more than 55,000 increase in employment achieved in the non-agricultural sector over the past five years.

In the industrial development area, for example, not only has significant support been provided for the direct employment creating promotional activities of the IDA and SFADCo but the Structural Fund has enabled a major impetus to be given to the development of the marketing competence of Irish firms and to industry-related science and technology programmes. These are areas of recognised weakness in Irish industry which successive analyses of industrial policy over the years have identified for special attention.

Free trade is Ireland's life blood. The small size of the Irish domestic market means that employment and living standards in this country are highly dependent on our success in international trade. We already have one of the most open trading economies in Europe. Exports of our goods and services account for over 70 per cent of our GNP and Irish exports are now found in over 120 countries throughout the world.

Our most important trading links are with our European Community partners. In 1991 over £11 billion of our total exports of £15 billion were to markets in the European Community. In fact, I think it is instructive to look at our export portfolio before we joined the European Community. In 1972 the United Kingdom accounted for some 62 per cent of our exports with other EC countries, buying 17 per cent of our overseas sales. Twenty years later we have seen a dramatic shift in that balance.

The United Kingdom now accounts for just 32 per cent of our exports whereas other EC states take 42 per cent. Exports to the United Kingdom since we joined the European Community have increased by a factor of 12 whereas exports to other member states have increased by a factor of 56. Normally I do not go in for statistics as they are very dry but these statistics are very telling. They show the success we have achieved over the past 20 years in dramatically broadening our export base. From being a country which relied almost solely on exporting to our nearest neighbour, we are now exporting our goods throughout Europe.

In 1991 the value of our exports to the Community grew by 5 per cent to £15 billion — the highest ever. There is no point in patting ourselves on the back and then sitting back and saying "Well done" because there is no room for complacency. Nobody owes us a living and competition for markets will intensify in the future. This is why under the Industry Operational Programme, which is funded by the EC Structural Fund, the Government highlighted the need to improve the marketing capability of Irish industry. Structural Fund support underpins the ability of the Government to get behind and support the marketing efforts of Irish industry. Since 1989 Exchequer funding for marketing programmes has increased by some 50 per cent.

The Community is, therefore, opening up enlarged and more accessible markets and providing us with financial support which helps our firms to break into those markets. We must trade to survive and the movement towards even closer economic and political union can only assist us in these efforts.

The Maastricht Treaty underlines the importance of research in strengthening the competitive position of European industry. The EC already provides considerable support for research in Ireland — about £35 million per annum under the Structural Fund — with further support available under the £4 billion Third Framework Programme for Research and Development. The Delors II financial package for the years 1993-97 proposes a 70 per cent increase in EC funding for research between now and 1997. Our ability to avail of such increased research funds is dependent on Ireland continuing to commit itself fully to the creation of a European Union.

The significant increases in expenditure on measures to improve the marketing performance of Irish industry and on industry-related S & T measures could not have been contemplated within available public sector financial resources without the co-financing available under the Structural Fund which allows the recovery from the Community of 75 per cent of the direct State expenditure involved. The returns from this expenditure will come not just from an immediately welcome, if modest, direct employment effect but more significantly, by building the foundations in marketing and technological competence within Irish industry and its supporting infrastructure which will provide a sound basis for sustainable job creation in future years.

The Community's commitment to the development of less-developed countries, such as Ireland, is strengthened under the Maastricht Treaty. The role of the Structural Fund as a principal instrument for transfering resources from richer to poor areas of the Community is re-affirmed and greater flexibility in using those funds for development purposes has been provided for — in the area of educational facilities, for example.

By participating fully in the process now leading to economic and monetary union we will send out a clear signal of economic stability and discipline to potential investors of both domestic and overseas origin in the Irish economy. Exchange rate uncertainties will be removed with a resultant downward pressure on interest rates. That, too, will help us in our business developments particularly in the manufacturing sector. The eventual emergence of a single currency will remove transaction costs for Irish Trade within a community.

In addition to the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, another issue on which the people of Ireland are being asked to decide in the context of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution and which the Taoiseach referred to in his address to the House is the ratification of the Agreement on a Community Patent. I want to try to put the agreement into perspective and, to do so, I must first refer to another, completely separate, patent convention called the European Patent Convention.

The European Convention was concluded in Munich in October in 1973 and signed by a number of European Countries, Ireland included, some of whom were members states of the EC and others who are mainly EFTA countries. This convention entered into force in 1977 and the European Patent Office, which was established by that convention, has been functioning since 1978 and granting European patents which have the same effect as national patents in the countries which have ratified that Convention.

The agreement relating to Community patents is, in fact, rooted in the European Patent Convention and ratification of the European Convention, is therefore, a necessary prerequisite for ratification of the agreement. The agreement was established at Luxembourg in December 1989 amongst the member states of the EC. Its purpose is to establish a system for the grant of Community patents, that is, a unitary supranational patent valid throughout the entire area of EC internal market. This patent, will have uniform legal character throughout the whole area of the Community, transcending the boundaries of and independent of the individual national laws of the 12 member states.

It is the European Patent Office which will actually perform the grant of Community patents as well as continuing to perform its existing function of granting European patents. Administrative procedures in connection with the obtaining of a Community patent will be somewhat less cumbersome for inventors and they will also be able to maintain their Community patents in force by one single annual payment instead of 12 different sets of national renewal fees. The agreement also creates a centralised litigation procedure for Community patents under the common system of law set down in the agreement.

With the completion of the internal market, it is obvious that the Community patent is an important element in the process of completion of the market and provides an important measure of protection for inventions by one uniform patent covering the entirety of the internal market. I should mention that Ireland's ratification of the European Patent Convention has already been made possible by the recent enactment of the Patents Act, 1992, and our ratification of that convention will be effective in a few months time. Thus, we have already taken the first step to enable us to ratify the Community patent agreement. That in itself will be seen as progressive.

The logical next step, therefore, is for us to join with our partners in the ratification, in due course, of the agreement. That step, however, poses a constitutional problem which the Bill, presently before the House, seeks to address. I should say too, that Denmark have a problem in relation to the voting strength needed to see that matter through but I understand they are making progress. The agreement is not an instrument made under the legal framework of the European Community Treaties. It provides for the setting up of a supranational Community patent appeal court with jurisdiction to determine certain matters concerning Community patents raised on appeal from decisions of national courts. Moreover, jurisdiction is also conferred on the Court of Justice in relation to preliminary rulings on questions concerning interpretation of the EC Treaty. Ireland's adherence to the agreement is not necessitated by our membership of the Communities and thus the jurisdictions of the bodies referred to are not covered by the exemption for which the Third Amendment of the Constitution provides.

The approval of the House to the proposed constitutional amendment in this area will enhance our reputation and will be seen as a positive and progressive step. It makes eminent common sense as to how we do our business apart from wishing to be approved of. I would not go along with the idea that we always want this benign approval. We are going along with this as well because it is a commitment we have already entered into and also because it makes economic and business sense. On 18 June voters will be asked to ratify this as well within the total framework of what they are approving.

Matters were raised by Deputy Garland in this House which perhaps he did not quite understand. I should like to clear up those points because they are quite serious and if they gained currency could leave people worried about certain matters. Rather than have the hare skip all over the country I want to have the hare sit. He raised the possibility that patents may be granted in respect of human beings or in respect of human genes because, as he said, the European Patent Office had granted a patent in respect of a transgenic mouse. This may be something which, on an initial hearing, raises a smile but, in fact, it is a serious matter and he was right to raise it.

In the time which remains I do not think I can read the briefing document which has been given to me but I can inform Deputy Garland that that particular patent was granted because the development of this matter is an important test model in seeking a cure for cancer. One would wish that such usage was not necessary but if there are to be developments in the search for cures — there is ongoing research and development in that area — for cancer, it is obvious that tests of one kind or another must be carried out. That was the reason——

Acting Chairman

The Minister of State has five minutes.

I am aware of that but I have a lot more to say on other matters.

That is the reason that particular mouse was used. I understand that the European Patent Office decision to grant a patent in respect of this particular genetically engineered mouse was taken after very careful consideration of a number of issues. It does not mean that other patents will be granted in the future for transgenic animals on a routine basis. I understand that was one of the points put forward by Deputy Garland. The policy is that all applications for patents in this area will be individually and rigorously scrutinised. I am informed that another patent application in respect of a different mouse has been refused by the European officer on the basis that the objective underlying the research was not considered sufficiently meritorious to mankind. Therefore, the principle underlying such usage is clearly identified for research and development and hopefully it will result in the cure of various diseases — in this case the research was for a cure for a particular form of cancer.

Fears will be allayed in this area if I mentioned that the EC has submitted a draft Directive on the legal protection of biotechnology inventions. It has gone through much technical discussion and is being considered by the European Parliament. Following their views I understand there will be a provision prohibiting the grant of patents in respect of human beings or parts of the human body. I understand furthermore there is absolutely no question of the European Patent Office granting patents in respect of genes in the human body. I want to put that confirmation very clearly on the record of the House.

I accept that Deputy Garland raised this in a serious way. Sometimes issues that appear trivial become important. Naturally people are worried about research and development later to be defined were this European patent matter to be pursued. But that is not the way the matter will develop. We have firm confirmation of that and I would like Deputy Garland, the House and the wider community to accept the bona fides in that respect.

I particularly welcome the provisions laid out relating to consumer protection in the Maastricht Treaty. These commit the Communities to contributing to a high level of consumer protection through measures adopted for the completion of the internal market by the development of specific directives which support and supplement action by member states to protect the health, safety and economic interests of consumers and the provision of improved information for them. The interests of consumers are guarded in the Communities' policies as laid out in the three year plan for consumer policy. Priority for the further development of consumer policy have now been set. Measures to improve consumer representation and consumer information are being actively considered.

I now want to address one particular aspect of our membership of the European Community, one that is of prime importance to me and to the women of the country. That is, the position of Irish women after almost 20 years of Community membership. At the most basic level the EC has been central in redressing the inequality of opportunity between women and men. Measures have been taken to provide for equal treatment with regard to pay, access to employment, vocational training, promotion and working conditions and for improving the conditions applying to women in the area of social security. Work is continuing in this last area and is ongoing too with regard to the protection at work of pregnant women, the provision of parental leave and the status of women in society generally.

Much has been achieved in advancing the position of Irish women, advances which, I have no doubt, would not have taken place, or at least not to the same extent, if Ireland had not been a member of the EC. When national governments were inclined to drag their feet the EC stepped in. In the seventies those of us who were in the workforce were trying to get equal pay and the then Commissioner pushed it at that time. Much still remains to be done and there is no room for complacency.

The EC is not only committed to the principal of equality for women, it also honours and works to fulfil that commitment. I am proud to be an Irish woman and also to be a woman of Europe. The adoption of the Maastricht Treaty will result in the reinforcement and enhancement of what has been achieved to date and I am confident that Irish women, whether working within or outside their home, will stand with me on June 18 and vote for the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution and give Maastricht a resounding yes.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Gay Mitchell.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

The Irish people have no real alternative to voting "yes" to the Maastricht Treaty on 18 June next and we should not feel despondent about doing so. For Ireland great opportunities will arise, but there are huge potential hazards in the new integrated Europe. Between the restrictions placed upon us by the new European Union in regard to how we manage our own economy and the opportunities that will exist in the free trade area of over 340 million people our prospects are largely in our own hands. Let nobody think for a moment that there will be any free lunches here. Europe, like the US and Japan, must adopt the "lean and mean" approach, as the Americans say, to the creation of industrial jobs and be competitive on the world scene. What we all must realise is that a thriving, prosperous industrial Europe with a razor edged competitive structure is the only way to reduce the dole queues Community wide. A prosperous Europe is the only hope peripheral areas like Ireland have of raising a sustained consumer spending regime, and the most heavily populated areas of the new union will be the greatest boost we could get as an exporting nation. In relative terms few other countries would gain to the same degree as we would.

However, there is no shortage of problems. West Germany is going through a tortuous time domestically at the moment. Many opponents of the Maastricht Treaty tried to sell the line that our national identity would be submerged and somehow we will become common Europeans. West Germany illustrated that blood is thicker than water when 24 million of its own brothers and sisters in East Germany needed financial assistance after the Berlin Wall collapsed. West Germany clearly showed its commitment to national unity, and rightly so. I have no doubt that as a result of what happened in West Germany, which I always regard as the Paymaster General within the EC, there are many small farmers in the West who will receive fewer headage cheques. However, history provides an excellent indication of what Germany can do economically and I believe they will ride this storm also.

If the European Union is anything it is a mechanism to facilitate different backgrounds and different national aspirations to proceed down a charted planned course of togetherness on specific issues while at the same time giving sufficient space to states and ethnic groups within states to live their lives their way. Surely nobody is suggesting that there will be fewer people in Croke Park for next year's All Ireland Final just because 12 European countries are more integrated. I believe next year's All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil is unlikely to be cancelled as a result of European Union. I also believe that, despite the Government's messing with the abortion issue, Ireland can frame its own laws in relation to the abortion issue and other related matters without any interference from our partners.

Because I represent a constituency in the West of Ireland, naturally I have certain reservations about the Maastricht Treaty which I intend to put on the record of the House today. I want to speak about the Cohesion Fund and the Structural Fund for a moment. As everybody knows, we are the net beneficiaries of EC funds to the tune of the ratio of 6.5:1. This has undoubtedly meant that many of the projects that are to be seen all over Ireland would not be there were it not for our involvement in Europe. However, it is also true that much of the investment is substitution investment for what we should have been able to fund from our own resources had we managed our economy properly over the last 15 years. The mind boggles at what we would have been able to do if we did not have to meet a bill of £2.5 billion in interest every year to service our national debt. When put into the context of the so-called £6 billion Structural Fund which we are supposed to get, it gives one a very clear indication of just how bad our economy is.

I am not at all sure that the £6 billion is there. I believe it depends largely on how well the European economy performs over the next few years. However, I believe that the aspiration to provide the money by the major states is of huge importance to us. I also believe that the Cohesion Fund will be very important, and there are just a few things that I want to say quickly about it. The poorer countries — Greece, Portugal, Spain and ourselves — will be the only people who will be financed from this. It is vital that this fund when in place will acknowledge the difficulty of poor, remote rural areas in finding the matching own resources to attract such investment. I refer to the level of resources that would have to be made available locally in order to qualify for grant aid schemes under the Cohesion Fund. Let me give the example of the headage schemes in the severely handicapped areas over the past number of years. Until quite recently we were funded on a pound for pound basis. Unfortunately, as the noose tightened because of our poor economic circumstances, it was more difficult to get our pound in the last few years than it was to find the pound in Brussels. That is a major problem.

I believe that circumstances will arise in the very remote, peripheral areas of this country where money from the Cohesion Fund will have to be transferred on the basis of not much more than 10 per cent of our own resources being necessary to qualify. I want to outline briefly why it is important for those funds to be earmarked specifically for peripheral areas like the west. As statistics show, people are regularly leaving the west, we lost people in Connacht and Ulster even in the good times in the seventies and it is now acknowledged that many areas in those provinces have gone beyond the stage of helping themselves because the working population aged from 25 to 50 is almost entirely missing in some parishes. The problem is that we have a huge number of students at colleges and schools at one end of the scale and huge numbers of elderly people drawing their old age pensions at the other end of the scale. In between, there is almost a missing generation. If cohesion in Europe means anything it will have to redress this population imbalance. I am more afraid of our own Government and Civil Service mentality than I am of anything which might happen in Europe. A great proportion of funds which were specifically earmarked for the peripheral areas over the past 20 years did not get here and there is ample evidence to show that they were hijacked to boost the national Exchequer.

There is now an overwhelming case for regionalisation. Well researched, integrated plans in regions which share common problems must be the basis for funding from the Cohesion Fund. I wish to compare the very real problems which exist in Ballymun, Dublin, with those facing communities in places like Clifden, County Galway. Of course direct comparison is not the answer. I accept that it will be necessary for the Department of Finance to be involved, that is normal, but a case cannot be made on grounds of economic priority to put a community in Clifden, Belmullet or Dingle, in direct competition with a city or town, which is happening at present. There are fewer representatives from those areas and they have less clout because they are on the periphery of the periphery. That is why, if the Cohesion Fund means anything, it will have to be written into the Treaty.

Ireland has one chance left to genuinely plan ahead for the peripheral areas. Funding must be earmarked specifically in such cases and I strongly make the case that it must be part and parcel of the Cohesion Fund, otherwise areas such as those I represent will get nothing. I wanted to refer to many other areas, including agriculture, but I just have time to say that I will be delighted to vote "yes" on 18 June. I hope that everybody else will do the same.

I wish to thank the House for allowing Deputy Connaughton to share his time with me. On the foundation of this State 70 years ago could it have been envisaged that Ireland would, in such a short period, have a seat at the governing table of the single biggest political and economic bloc in the world? Not only has that been attained but Ireland has had the Presidency of the European Community four times since joining in 1973.

Critics say that Ireland has suffered economically because of our membership of the EC. Yet, in the past 20 years, the growth rate of our gross domestic product exceeded that of the rest of the EC by 25 per cent. This could not have been achieved from outside the Community. There has been a problem in relation to employment with larger numbers coming on to the labour market because of the high rate of population growth in recent decades and because of rampant State policies where the State spent 65 per cent of GNP and did not do so efficiently. More than likely, it was higher than in any other European country. Our tax system is asset based rather than an incentive to production and the high numbers of a certain age group have all contributed to the current high level of unemployment. If we had been outside the EC it is possible that we would have had slightly lower levels of unemployment, albeit people being paid Third World wages. We certainly would not have been able to pay the level of social security we pay to those who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed.

Unemployment remains a cancer in our society and must be at the top of our agenda. The promotion of employment is one of the main objectives of the Treaty's social policy provisions. The Protocol on social policies sets out the following objectives: the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, proper social protection, dialogue between management and labour, the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of social exclusion.

Already our membership of the EC has allowed us to diversify our trade.

Before we joined the EC, almost two-thirds of our total exports went to the UK, now only about one-third of our exports go to the UK, while over 40 per cent go to other EC states. This strengthens our sovereignty and independence.

Our membership of the EC has brought social progress. The EC Commitment to equal pay and equal opportunities has considerably improved the rights of Irish women. This is something which I would like to see copperfastened by a full constitutional amendment here to give equal rights to all citizens without distinction of sex.

The Treaty on European Union which contains seven titles or sections and 17 Protocols — which I understand are binding — together with 33 declarations, is a positive evolution from the 1957 Treaty of Rome which gave us the European Economic Community, the 1987 Single European Act which gave us the European Community and this third Treaty which will bring about European Union.

As part of the co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs, I would like to see the setting up of a drugs enforcement agency to combat the inflow and distribution of illegal, lethal and addictive drugs throughout the European Community, especially within these islands. This should be possible under the third pillar of the Treaty. I should like this agency to lead a diplomatic offensive of the EC against countries which are exporting these death drugs to our community. In the time available it is not possible to deal with all these headings in detail but I should like to make a general reference to the Treaty.

In relation to the existing Community framework and declaration 21 on the Court of Auditors contained in the Maastricht Treaty, I should like to raise the question of value for money for the European taxpayer, including the Irish taxpayer. For too long the European Community has been seen as a legitimate target for fraud by a variety of member states and citizens within those states. The European Community can no longer afford to be seen as a soft touch. The strengthening of the role of the Court of Auditors would assist in combating fraud. In this regard national parliaments should review annually the report of the Court of Auditors and members of the EC Court of Auditors should be asked to appear before the audit committees — such as the Public Accounts Committee — of the Parliaments of the member states. This should be in addition to their relationship with the EC Budget Committee and its sub-committee and not a substitute for that relationship.

This would help to some extent in addressing the question of the democratic deficit and would help to concentrate minds on cleaning up our act in relation to mis-spending of taxpayer's money at European level, fraud and maladministration.

Recently I attended a meeting of Budget Committees of National Parliaments of the EC together with the Budget Committee of the European Parliament. It was clear from that meeting that Germany in particular is concerned about the democratic deficit. The transfer of certain economic decisions to a central body further weakens the role of the elected politician. This is of concern particularly to the Germans but it should also be of concern to us. It is time to consider an elected European Senate on US model which should be given the role of protecting smaller member states. This, with a democratically accountable Government of Europe, elected directly by a Lower House of the European Parliament, would be a far more evolutionary and revolutionary move to consider than the way we have allowed our parliamentary institutions to develop in the recent past.

The role of this European Government and Parliament could be distinguished from those of national governments and parliaments in a European constitution. The present democratic deficit and overlap of national responsibilities with European responsibilities is cumbersome and may be inefficient. If we are to have a real European Union should we have a real European Government and a real European Parliament?

The European Community, and the European Union which is now evolving, is concerned with peace as much as with prosperity. Much has been made by the Taoiseach of the alleged £6 billion which he says will be coming our way from the new structural and cohesion funds. Leaving aside what we will gain financially from European Union, is it not to our benefit to be in a Europe at peace and which can hope to influence the peaceful evolution of the world?

The European Coal and Steel Community was a pooling of resources in order to prevent a recurrence of World War II. It was from this that the European Community as we know it today grew. Much is being made by those who oppose the Treaty of Irelands' neutrality and our surrender of sovereignty. First of all, we are not surrendering sovereignty; we are pooling sovereignty. We are being given a say in the economies of our neighbours. Indeed it can be argued that we are more sovereign since we are not completely dependent on the UK for our exports, and by having a representative on the European Central Bank we will have a say in monetary policy instead of being linked effectively to the Deutsche Mark without any say as to exchange rates.

Those who condemn our membership of the EC on the basis that it affects our neutrality are often among the front runners in eulogising our membership of the United Nations. Yet our membership of the United Nations compels us to facilitate directives from the Security Council to make available our ports, for example, where the Security Council has sanctioned direct action against a country.

In the event that a European Defence Community revolves — and this is not for decision until 1996 although the Community has genuflected in that direction — Ireland should be a full member. This is not Albania. We cannot leave the United Nations or leave the European Community. It is disingenous to say that we should distance ourselves from the EC and then embrace the United Nations. The Fifth and Thirteenth Hague Conventions, which set down the definition of a neutral state, require such a state to deny access equally to all belligerents in times of war. We did not do that during the Gulf War and could not do so under the terms of the United Nations Charter while remaining a member. We have obligations internationally to the UN and EC. If the EC develops a defence policy we should be part of it. If it is worth being a member of the Community then it is worth defending that Community. It is hypocritical of the Government to run away from this issue. Maastricht is about peace, not war. It was the Europe of nation states that gave us a series of wars culminating in the Second World War.

In relation to cohesion and the funds to be made available for infrastructure, I would make a special plea that the Irish Government seek funding for the refurbishment of inner city flats. This can be justified on the basis that within our inner cities we already have infrastructure such as roads, churches, schools, shops, sewerage etc. We also have in Dublin city some of the poorest housing conditions in western Europe. Of the 16,000 Dublin Corporation flats in Dublin city about 10,000 are, in my view, unfit as decent places to live. The standard by which I judge this is that no Member of this House would aspire to live there or for our children to live there. Yet we compel our citizens to live in these flats. If the flats could be refurbished — and this could be financed for between £10 million and £20 million per year — it would mean that the rest of our infrastructure would be put to full use and we might not have to build roads out to green field sites around the city together with the expense of new sewerage systems etc. In turn it would help to keep the city a living city.

I urge support for the Maastricht Treaty. Fine Gael is not a slightly European party; we are a fully committed European party and will be campaigning vigorously in the interests of this country that people support the Treaty.

(Limerick West): I wish to share five minutes of my time with Deputy Mary Wallace.

Acting Chairman

Is that agreed? Agreed.

(Limerick West): I am glad to have the opportunity of contributing to this important debate on European Union. The referendum on the Treaty which takes place in June is as important to the economy of this country, and for generations to come, as the referendum which took place when we became members of the Community close on 20 years ago.

I have been criticised for allegedly jeopardising the vote for European Union because I have continually asked for assurances on the abortion issue in advance of the referendum. I make no apology for my position. It is not I but the Government who are placing this historical vote in jeopardy. And I warn them once again that they must clear the doubts on the abortion question now or face an embarrassing and unnecessarily small majority in favour of the Treaty.

What I have called for all along, and call for again today, is a clear and unequivocal commitment from the Government that the important issues, such as the right to travel, the right to information and the copperfastening of our laws against abortion under any circumstances, will be faced and dealt with as a matter of urgency, ideally before 18 June.

It is not just my own concern that I am expressing here. It is the concern of a huge number of Irish people from my party and from many parties in this House; and the Government who refuse to listen to such concern do so at their peril.

It is unbecoming of a Government or their leader to make cheap jibes about someone who expresses a contrary opinion. This is a vital moral issue that transcends petty politics or sour grapes.

Such is the delay of the Government in producing the promised text on the right to travel and the right to information that I must question if there is a hidden agenda somewhere. Is it a case of the liberal wing in the Cabinet pushing a bit too far for the conservative element within it?

If the political will is there, it should be possible to agree a formula of words today rather than in three months' time on such a basic but admittedly complex matter. So what is the delay? The House deserves an answer.

Having made my position clear on the abortion question, which is unfortunately linked to this great national debate, I want to make if equally clear that I am strongly supportive of European Union. If this Treaty is not approved by the people it will be a national tragedy.

I would now like to concentrate and focus on the economic and monetary aspects of the Treaty, which are at its central core, and more specifically on how it affects our basic industry of agriculture and food. I would like to compliment the authors of the short guide to the Treaty. It is quite readable to the ordinary man in the street and luckily will be circulated to all the people. This is not to find fault with the contents of the White Paper.

There has been so much spoken and written about this Treaty including a lot of hot air, that its basic purpose — economic and monetary union and its considerable advantages to Ireland's economic sector — might easily not be fully realised throughout the country.

The arguments in favour of a "yes" vote are overwhelming and I have no doubt that Irish intelligence will see it that way. So much attention and time has been devoted to words and their meaning that there is a real danger of our neglecting the measures necessary to exploit the economic advantages of the new situation. Attention should not be diverted from taking these measures while there is still time and there is not much time left. We will have full economic and monetary union by 1999 at the latest.

As was the case in the 1972 referendum for entry to Europe, the economic arguments must focus strongly on the future of the sheet anchor of Ireland's national economy — the agricultural and food sector.

As the White Paper reminds us, the agricultural and food sector accounts for more than 40 per cent of net foreign earnings, and 70 per cent of agricultural output must find an export market. The capacity to find that market at the best possible prices lies at the very heart of the future well-being of Irish farming and all who depend on it.

The Common Agricultural Policy has been very beneficial but the Common Agricultural Policy has changed, is changing, and will undergo further change in the future. This process is acknowledged in paragraphs 3.12 and 3.14 of the White Paper. Radical changes are already being considered at the level of the Council of Ministers. These include: price reduction in cereals, lower milk quotas and alterations in the beef intervention system. While a staunch battle is being waged on Ireland's behalf, it must be remembered that the overall situation makes it difficult for our farmers.

In addition, the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations, now in progress, will definitely result in some reduction of market support and easier access to European markets by produce from outside the Community.

These are not forces that might emerge in the distant future. They are already upon us.

Further pressure is coming also from Central and Eastern European countries hoping ultimately to become members. A number of factors will bring about their increasing involvement in trade in agriculture and agricultural products. While there is no point in being pessimistic, we must be realistic.

As mentioned in paragraph 2.19 of the White Paper, price stability is the only sound basis for sustainable economic growth. This is particularly true in the case of agriculture, but at what level of price, for what quantity and at what margin over costs?

If Irish agriculture is to exploit the advantages of economic and monetary union, it must improve its competitive position, especially in continential markets. The key factors are obvious; efficiency of production and processing of the raw material, unassailable high quality of the food product and marketing capability.

As to production of the raw material, Irish farmers have been going through a rough time recently. But they have always responded to reasonably favourable conditions, especially price. They are now more than ever before dependent on the processing sector, as recent happenings in the beef enterprise have demonstrated. In turn, both are affected by marketing performance.

We will be successful on export markets only if we supply a premium product and on time. This calls for more effective co-ordination of effort between all stages than exists today. The proceedings at the beef tribunal have highlighted the extraordinary multiplicity of agencies, public and private, involved in selling a single product. Surely it can be made more cost efficient through effective co-ordination and rationalisation. One need only look at the success of the dairy, poultry and mushroom industries to appreciate the benefits of integrating the different stages in the chain.

These aspirations will be achieved only by enterprising individuals and efficient organisations or structures. Are existing organisations the right ones for the changing conditions? How long, for instance, must farmers suffer until bovine TB is eliminated? So far all attempts have failed. Let us be practical and do something about it — make whatever changes are needed but make them now.

I am glad to note that the White Paper, in paragraph 3.25, places particular emphasis on support for the marketing function. This is of extreme importance. Central to it is education and training.

On farmer training we have another example of the age-old Irish disease. Is Teagasc, for example, serving the Irish farmer as intended? The Minister should ask himself — and ask himself now — whether there is something inherently wrong with its structure.

It is gratifying to note that in the new areas for Community action under the Treaty, education is a priority for Ireland. This is contained in paragraph 6.14. A sustained all-out effort must be made to develop competence if not fluency in modern European languages. It is to be hoped that there will be the very maximum possible participation in the Community actions outlined in Articles 126 and 127 of the Treaty on developing competence in European languages and encouraging mobility of students and teachers, particularly young people. I earnestly hope for the fullest participation in the Lingua programme.

Again, is there need for rationalisation in the many public agencies involved in the field of education and training? Much has been written and talked about integrated rural development and, no doubt, the Community support framework, ESF, is well designed. But for many years to come, integrated rural development will succeed or fail around the farm family. The members of that family have their own aspirations, standards and potential. These are best understood and nurtured by their local kin. While I agree with the principle of the subregional review committees, I would welcome still more active local consultation and a greater input of local knowledge. Excessive centralisation would be their death knell.

The message is clear. The future of this country is in being part of the European Union. There is no alternative. The Government must provide clarity. The campaign for a "yes" vote demands leadership. It requires an honest and courageous approach from the Government to this crucial matter to ensure a massive and positive response from the people.

I thank the Deputy for sharing his time with me. I believe that the Treaty on European Union will provide the House with the most fundamental debate so far in the 26th Dáil.

Before commencing the few remarks I should like to make in relation to that Treaty, I should like to indicate that I join the Government in efforts to clarify that it is not about abortion. We must always be conscious of the confusion among the public about this matter. Recently a woman in my constituency asked me whether Maastricht was the Dutch word for abortion. Possibly, the fault for some of the confusion lies with politicians because we continually refer to the word "Maastricht" instead of talking about the Treaty on European Union. I consider that we should refer to the Treaty as the debate continues. We should not underestimate the degree of public confusion about the distinction between the issues. This confusion has dominated public and political life for the past four months. While we might assume that at this stage everybody could easily identify that distinction, that is not an assumption we should make.

What the Treaty does establish in relation to abortion is that the issue must be dealt with here. We must deal with this issue through our Constitution and laws as a clearly separate issue from the many important issues contained in the Treaty. From this week on, the debate must go into the specific issues as they relate to our country. I am not satisfied that we will not be taking any chances in agreeing to the Treaty. We should appreciate that we are handing over to the European Union most of our ability to undertake unilateral independent action and that we are in essence tying our hopes and aspirations to a dream of developing co-operation and access. On balance, Ireland has benefited tremendously over the past 20 years of membership of the EC. We must strongly recommend the continuation of those benefits, through the Treaty.

Those who point to our uneven economic performance in the last 20 years should try to concentrate on what it would be like if we had been outside the European Community. How would we have been able to attract foreign investment and maintain our agricultural industry or do anything about our infrastructure? We have benefited from our membership and we should recognise that.

Through European Monetary Union Ireland and other less developed countries have given up much. The ability of member states to influence their own economies through unilateral fiscal moves has been effectively removed. This affects larger states less because they are well off and the fiscal limits are sufficient for them to cope with the normal ups and downs of an economic cycle. In addition, they have larger industries which are better able to dominate the Single Market. Less developed countries need an assurance of extra assistance from outside the domestic budget. This is where the Cohesion Fund plays a role and where it is crucial to Ireland.

To those who claim that our neutrality has been done away with by this Treaty I would point to the fact that the Treaty explicitly states that we cannot be forced to accept anything. Voting must be unanimous and the European Court may not be used to enforce compliance. While we are committed to consensus we have reserved the right to say "no". This is the ultimate protection of our neutrality and it is a right which members of NATO do not have. My support of the common foreign and security policies is based on the presumption that we will be able to say no when we disagree on fundamental issues and that the declaration on voting in the field of foreign and security policy will not achieve an overriding importance.

I support the social policy, particularly the fact that the Treaty gives force to the Social Charter. We must welcome its explicit commitment to intensified action to ensure the implementation of the principle of equality. We should remember that when countries are vying for investment and business there is a temptation to ignore poor conditions and exploitation. The social dimension of the Treaty is central in trying to overcome this and the Social Charter is central to the advancement of women in the workforce.

I welcome the institutional changes proposed which I hope will start to reduce the legendary waste of the Community. While I welcome the new procedure of increasing the influence of the European Parliament, I hope the revised decision-making process will not become an impediment to efficient and speedy action. I strongly welcome the Treaty apart from the specific reservations to which I have referred I strongly support the Bill and I am happy to join the many speakers who have recommended the European Treaty to the people. I hope the people will give the Treaty their enthusiastic backing in the referendum.

Failtím roimh an Aire chun deireadh a chur leis an díospóireacht.

Táim buíoch díot, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, agus cuirfidh mé deireadh gairid leis, i gceann fiche nóiméad nó mar sin.

On benefits of the Community, we sometimes forget the extent to which the European Community and the development of European Union has become a part of our lives. We have played our part in its development over the last two decades and it has come to occupy a significant place in Irish life. Its impact has been extensive. Agriculture, our most important industry, is now an integral part of European agriculture through the operation of the Common Agricultural Policy. Our industry depends on the Community market for its trade. In our foreign policy, we use our position as a member state to enhance our role in influencing developments on the international scene.

However, there are elements of Community activity which we may take for granted. The Community provides funds which help to improve our roads. It plays an important part in funding third level education in the regional technical colleges. It has brought higher standards of environmental protection to Ireland — standards we might not have attained had we remained outside. In the workplace norms for health and safety have been reinforced by Community action. Women's rights to equality of treatment are underpinned by Community legislation — again reaching standards which might not have been attained had we stayed outside.

The Treaty will reinforce those achievements and bring Community action into areas of benefit to the individual citizen. The capacity to act in the environment has been increased. Consumer affairs is now the subject of a special chapter. So are education and health. The citizen's rights are recognised in the Treaty.

These benefits exist apart from the wider benefits which economic and monetary union and the improvements in the cohesion dimension will bring. Education, health, the environment and culture are of vital and immediate significance to the individual citizen. We should consider these aspects when we assess the balance sheet of the Treaty.

Ba mhaith liom trácht anois ar Alt tábhachtach don saoránach sa gComhphobal. Is é sin an tAlt faoin gcultúr.

Is trí eolas a chur ar chultúir eile a chuireann muid eolas orainn féin. Tá Alt a bhaineann le cultúr amháin sa gConradh ar an Aontas Eorpach. Bhí sé seo ar cheann d'aidhmeanna an Rialtais le linn na hidirbheartaíochta. Treisíonn an tAlt seo leis an urraim a thugann an Comhphobal don éagsúlacht chultúrtha idir na ballstáit agus taobh istigh de na ballstáit, agus ag an am céanna leagann sé béim ar an gcúlra cultúrtha amháin atá ag muintir na hEorpa trí chéile. De réir an Ailt caithfidh an Comhphobal cúrsaí cultúir a chur san áireamh nuair a bhíonn gníomhaíochtaí á mbeartú faoin gConradh.

Tugann an tAlt nua seo maidir le cultúr dúshlán na hÉireann, agus na mballstát ar fad, aitheantas a thabhairt ina gcuid gníomhaíochtaí d'éagsúlacht agus do shaibhreas chultúrtha an Chomhphobail. Is léir uaidh, gurb é is mian leis an gComhphobal, go mairfeadh an éagsúlacht sin, agus gur mó an t-eolas a chuirfeadh muintir na hEorpa ar a gcultúir féin agus ar chultúir a chéile.

D'iarr an Teachta Michael D. Higgins orm an mbeadh leagan Gaeilge den Pháipéar Bán le fáil. Ní bheidh an Páipéar Bán le fáil mar is gnáth, ach beidh leagan den Treoirleabhar Gairid le fáil i gceann tamaill.

In 1972, and again in 1987, the Irish people in voting in favour of the Treaties of the European Community and the Single European Act accepted the objective of closer European Union. Furthermore, we accepted that the Community was a dynamic and evolving instrument for economic and social progress.

Since we joined there has been a series of major steps into new areas. The social policy has been considerably expanded. In 1973 the Community did not have a regional policy. It now has a wide range of regional development instruments and these are further improved in the new Treaty. When we joined, the Community did not have an environment policy. Such a policy is now in place and playing a major part in raising awareness of the environment, especially here in Ireland. I could give many other examples, such as the evolution of the Community's development aid policy and its activities in the area of research.

The development of the Community's Treaties and policies has not been a mere academic exercise. It has not been the plaything of idealistic politicians or lawyers. Ideas and imagination have been central to the process but that process is a response to the needs and requirements of Europe in the 41 year period since the Coal and Steel Community was established. It is a credit to the vision and foresight of the founding fathers that the Community has evolved so successfully on the bedrock of their work.

I would like to respond to a number of serious allegations which have been made as regards my party's attitude to women's rights. Fianna Fáil are and have always been committed to full equality of women in Irish society. The record shows that over the last 30 years Fianna Fáil can point to a solid record of achievement. In 1965 the Succession Act rectified discrimination against women in respect of succession rights. In 1970, Fianna Fáil appointed the first Commission on the Status of Women whose work was seminal in the advancement of reforms in the following decade. In 1979, the introduction of free legal aid gave support to battered wives in seeking protection from the courts. The 1980 budget gave full equality to women in taxation matters. Virtually every Fianna Fáil Government since 1979 have included a woman Cabinet Minister. Since 1987 Fianna Fáil have appointed women in increased numbers to State boards, extended treatment benefits to the spouses of insured persons, enacted comprehensive legislation on rape and will introduce excellent legislation in that regard in the not too distant future.

Let me touch now on the issue of non-ratification. Ireland can vote against ratification and the Union Treaty will not come into force. However the other member states are most unlikely to put aside more than a year of hard negotiation so easily. For all of the signatories the Treaty represents a hard-won compromise. It does not entirely satisfy everyone's ambitions but it is the best that can be attained at this stage and is an important step forward on the road to closer European union.

I have no doubt that in our absence the Eleven will find a way to proceed with the Treaty. The agreement between the Eleven on social policy provides a very clear precedent. The Protocol on Social Policy which is an integral part of the Treaty authorises the Eleven member states, apart from the UK, and I quote:

to have recourse to the initiatives, procedures and mechanisms of the Treaty for the purpose of taking among themselves and applying as far as they are concerned the acts and decisions required to give effect to the . . . Agreement.

In other words, it creates a social Community going further than the basic Treaty but using all of the Treaty's facilities. Here is a precedent for a union of the Eleven to implement the new Treaty. This is a union likely to be joined in the fairly near future by other countries such as Sweden, Austria and Finland.

Ireland has made an important contribution to the development of the Community. We should not sacrifice that contribution. We have been able to contribute to the development of an agriculture policy which takes account of the interests of procedures on the Community's periphery. We have been able to ensure the evolution of a cohesion policy which takes account of the interests of the peripheral regions. We have contributed significantly to the evolution of the position of the Twelve on issues such as South Africa and the Middle East.

Non-ratification would sacrifice Ireland's contribution. It would throw away twenty years of effort by successive Irish Governments and the commitment of the Irish people over that period. Without even considering what we would lose by not having access to the benefits of the new Treaty, it is clear that we would put at serious risk the achievement of two decades.

I would offer one final comment on the issue of non-ratification. What if Britain ratifies and we do not? What will be the impact on our links with the North which have grown closer since we joined the Community? Do we really want to create a situation which will deepen the divisions between the two parts of the island?

Amendments to the motion for the Second Reading have been tabled by the Deputies of the Democratic Left and by Deputies O'Keeffe and Mitchell. Some of the points raised in the amendments have been answered in the course of contributions from the Government side.

I am unable to accept Deputy O'Keeffe's amendment which would in effect suspend progress on ratification pending publication of proposals to deal with travel and information rights. The Government wish to proceed with the European Union Treaty.

In this regard I would refer to Deputy Howlin's Private Members' Bill on the subject. We have no great difficulty with the general thrust of what Deputy Howlin suggests. However, as the Taoiseach has indicated, this should not be taken to indicate agreement with the specifics of the wording Deputy Howlin proposes.

The issues involved in the Supreme Court's judgment are complex. The Government have decided to await the outcome of the deliberations of the Cabinet Committee examining the issues involved. I appreciate the time and effort that Deputy Howlin has devoted to the issue. However, I would urge him to hold back from proceeding further at this time.

The question of the deletion of Protocol 17 has arisen. The Democratic Left motion is wide-ranging in that regard. Deputy De Rossa argued that Protocol 17 should be deleted. I should like to avail of this opportunity to deal with this issue — I hope, once and for all. I am sure that is a pious hope but nevertheless it constitutes an effort on my part to deal with this issue.

Piety is never scarce.

Hope springs eternal.

Yes, hope springs eternal. I will endeavour to deal with the issue once and for all, if I can. Our advice from the legal service of the Council of Ministers, obtained shortly after the judgments in the Attorney Generalv. X case were delivered, was that deletion of the Protocol would involve convening of an Intergovernmental Conference.

When I asked our partners to consider an amendment to the Protocol at the Council on 6 April I found that, while all accepted the substance of our case, the majority would not agree to convene a new conference. They feared that a new conference would put them under pressure to reopen other aspects of the new Treaty. Thus the objection of partners was not to the substance of our request but to the dangers which a new intergovernmental conference would present to the Maastricht package.

We put forward one method of solving the dilemma; they suggested another. I regret that Deputy De Rossa and others appear to attach no value to the Solemn Declaration. I do not know how he can reject a document which has been accepted by all of the signatories to the Treaty. It seems to me that many commentators in Ireland have dismissed the Declaration without giving its value any serious consideration. I think that they are wrong in taking this view.

The Solemn Declaration has been accepted by all of our partners and was agreed by the Foreign Ministers last week. It has a legal and political value and has passed the scrutiny of the legal departments of all of the member states and of the institutions involved. I understand that the second edition of the new Treaty which will be published shortly by the Council and the Commission will contain the text of the Declaration — a clear recognition of its importance.

Moving to other points I am confident that we will be able to negotiate substantial funding in the context of the current Delors package. I note that on this and other issues Deputy De Rossa quotes spokesmen for other member states. I regret that he finds their views so convincing. We are engaged in a negotiation — member states are setting out their opening positions. A hard negotiation lies ahead on the Delors Plan, as there was on its predecessor. However, I am confident that in the end we will get the outcome we want.

The Minister for Finance has dealt with the issue of budgetary limits and convergence. I do not believe we should derogate from the provisions of European Monetary Union. They are in line with our budgetary policy over the last five years.

Industrial policy has been raised by a number of Deputies, especially in the context of employment. As regards a common industrial policy, the Industry chapter in the Treaty represents a compromise between those who would wish for very direct intervention in the economy and those who prefer a liberal approach. It is an important chapter. It would be our intention that, in applying industrial policy, full regard would be paid to the provisions of Article 2 of the EC Treaty which sets a "high level of employment and of social protection as a task of the Community". This provision and a similar provision in the agreement on Social Policy was inserted at our request.

The Democratic Left motion calls for increased democratic accountability. The democratic deficit was a major issue in the negotiations which produced the new Treaty.

Despite reservations on the Treaty I have no doubt that MEPs will ensure that co-decision makes a real impact. After all, under the existing co-operation procedure, which is considerably weaker, more than half of Parliament's amendments to commission proposals were accepted by the Council.

The Democratic Left mentioned specifically the need for democratic accountability in areas such as foreign and security policy, justice issues and central banking. I would make two points on this: first, the democratically elected and accountable members of the Council of Ministers play a major role in decisions in these areas. Ministers are accountable to their Parliaments for their actions at community level. We should not forget that democratic accountability applies at national level. This is recognised in two declarations on the role of the National Parliaments attached to the Treaties; second, the Treaty breaks new ground in enabling the European Parliament to monitor developments in these areas to a far greater extent than at present. The power of the European Parliament has increased in stages. Ten years ago, before the Single Act and the new Treaty, it was hard to envisage a European Parliament with real powers to influence legislation in a substantial way. Now it not only influences legislation; it can block it. Further steps to increase democratic accountability are likely in 1996 when the scope of the co-decision procedure is reviewed.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins and others raised the question of the "competent bodies under the Treaties establishing the Communities" in subsection 5 of the draft amendment. The competent bodies are the European Central Bank and the European Monetary Institute which is to be established at the beginning of the second stage of European Monetary Union.

As is made clear in the explanatory memorandum, the words of the amendment do not relate to the provisions dealing with common foreign and security policy. They do not apply to the Western European Union, as some Deputies have suggested.

The Democratic Left wants the provisions on common foreign and security policy amended in order to abandon what they call "superpower aspirations". Frankly I believe this represents a misreading of the Treaty. The Community and the European Union have their roots in the search for peace after two dreadful wars which devastated Europe. We sometimes forget that the movement towards European integration has a broad political aim — to prevent war in Europe by bringing former enemies together and joining their political and economic interests. If history has taught us anything it has taught us that we cannot take a peaceful Europe for granted. It must be worked for. This is the essential aim of the common foreign and security policy.

The objectives outlined in the Treaty reflect this: to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union; to strengthen the security of the Union and its member states; to preserve peace and strengthen international security in accordance with the UN Charter and the CSCE; to promote international co-operation and to develop and consolidate democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

These objectives are worth working for. A peaceful and stable Europe is essential to underpin the economic and social aims of the Treaty. A moment's reflection on the likely impact on Ireland's welfare and prosperity of another major European conflict will show what I mean. The means to achieve the Treaty's objectives are peaceful means — strengthened co-operation between the member states and joint political, diplomatic and economic action on international issues.

Europe has an unprecedented opportunity to build new structures based on the instruments of co-operation instead of the instruments of war. The barriers which have divided our continent for almost 50 years have come down. New forms of dialogue and co-operation are being developed between countries which a few years ago faced each other in two hostile and deadly alliances. I believe that Ireland has a duty to itself and to Europe to engage fully in building the structures for European peace. We cannot stand aside or opt out of the most important challenge facing our generation. Other European countries which have applied for membership, such as Austria, Sweden and Finland, see the common foreign and security policy in this way and are prepared to accept it.

Up to now Ireland has played a full part in the development of the Community's foreign policy. By working with our European partners we have been able to further our policies on such issues as disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, human rights and development. Acting together the Twelve have had a greater impact on world affairs than any state acting alone. From Yugoslavia to the Middle East, to South Africa, to Central America the Community has been a force for good and it is seen as such by the peoples in these areas. Because co-operation takes place within a framework of agreed rules and by unanimity, we do not compromise our basic principles or approaches. Deputy Spring in his comprehensive and thoughtful analysis on Wednesday brought out a number of these points. This statement in this regard is worth studying.

It has been suggested by opponents of European Union that the Maastricht Treaty establishes a common defence policy and a European army, obliges us to join a military alliance, will result in conscription, does away with the veto on foreign and security policy and provides for joint action on military matters. None of this is true. A reading of the Treaty and the Government's White Paper will show how misleading these allegations are.

Several Deputies asked about the future framing of a common defence policy. I wish to make it clear that a common defence policy would require another negotiation; and there is provision in the Treaty for another intergovernmental conference in 1996 to negotiate any amendments to the Treaties that might be necessary. Any such amendments would, as the Taoiseach pointed out on Wednesday, require to be ratified here by referendum of the Irish people. This will remain the situation after ratification of the Treaty on European Union.

In voting for the Treaty on European Union I want the Irish people to vote for what is in the Treaty, for a vision of Europe that is at peace, that works for peace and that operates through discussion and agreement. As a small country Ireland has a fundamental interest in international co-operation based on the rule of law. We promote this through the United Nations, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international organisations, and we can do so through the Treaty on European Union.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand".
The Dáil divided: Tá, 69; Níl, 66.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dempsey and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies Flanagan and Boylan.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I declare this Bill to have been read a Second Time in accordance with Standing Order 93 (2).