Private Members' Business. - European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1992: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Last evening when I began my speech I referred to the introductory speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews. I said I had no hesitation in congratulating him on the initiative he took in drawing national and international attention to the tragic events of Somalia, which was succeeded by the visit to that country of the President, Her Excellency Mary Robinson. I also said it is outrageous and scandalous that the European Community is not represented by a permanent office in Mogadishu, where the office should be rather than in Nairobi.

In the few minutes available to me last evening I had begun to pay tribute to Ambassador Mohammed Sahnoun. I noted that the Minister was generous in his tributes to Ambassador Sahnoun and I join him in wishing the Ambassador's successor success in a most difficult project. I had the opportunity in Mogadishu of meeting Ambassador Sahnoun, an Algerian, who was uniquely qualified to make a contribution to bringing together the combatants who might, in turn, have generated peace in Somalia. I am worried about the way in which those who wanted to save face by rejecting Ambassador Sahnoun's criticism were victorious in having him replaced and those who would have welcomed him continuing his efforts were defeated.

As someone who travelled for over a week through Somalia, I can say that there are two urgent problems, one is bringing relief to people affected by famine but the other, more urgent problem is the reconstitution of civil society, which can be done perhaps through building on the pre-conflict structures of Somalia — the elders and the chiefs. Ambassador Sahnoun was working not only with the competing factions that support General Adid and Mr. Mahdi but also with the other representative forces within Somalia. That opportunity has been lost by his replacement.

It is the function of Irish foreign policy to establish a moral distinctiveness in our international relations. In going to Africa, but very particularly in his speech at the United Nations which went beyond supporting the agenda for peace, but dealt with disarmament, the Minister for Foreign Affairs restored Irish foreign policy to the high moral ground. Can there be a greater obscenity than the presence of so many armaments in a country dying as a result of famine? This enables me to turn to the Bill before the House, which is simply a technical one, and puts into effect the will of the people, with which I might differ but which as a democrat I accept.

How little preparation went into the Maastricht Treaty in relation to the curtailment of armaments. Indeed, in the debate in Britain, there was a reference to a commissioner who made uncomfortable remarks which the British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major, rejected. It should be noted that the same gentleman prepared notes on the future of the armaments industry in Europe.

Europe will have to face up to the reality that it is not acceptable to claim the space of a regional authority or a regional authority purporting to reform the United Nations when it still goes on producing armaments far beyond its own defence needs and selling them at fairs in Africa to countries dying of starvation.

There were many references in the Minister's speech to different dimensions of the European debate. Deputy Flaherty referred to people who had argued against the Maastricht Treaty as being in the grip of some fear. I am not in the grip of any fear, the Labour Party are noted for their international stance on various matters. Indeed, after the foundation of the State, the leaders of the Labour Party were asked to go to the Berne Conference. We have published more international policy documents than any other party. The difference between Deputy Flaherty's position and mine — as spokesperson for a long time on international policies for the Labour Party — is that I see international policy as being just that, international. I also see that I have the right to claim on behalf of my party that our foreign policy should reflect a genuine international agenda and should not be made artificially narrow. Not so long ago in this House the answer to every question dealing with foreign affairs started with the words: "The view of the Twelve is ...". Our people elect a Minister for Foreign Affairs to administer Irish foreign policy, and foreign policy will be made in this House. Beyond the moral moment about which I spoke, political principles will be established. That is a function of foreign policy, to be publicly accountable — the word "pragmatic" arises only in diplomatic practice — which is to administer what has been decided in this House where the Minister is accountable. We are moving in that direction and I welcome it.

I wish to comment on some of the points raised in regard to the attitude of the European Community, foreign members and heads of state, towards the rejection by the Danish people in a referendum of the Maastricht Treaty. In Europe there is a ceremonial and a ritual, a kind of public transcript, going on at the level of heads of states and Ministers and always there is a private transcript of national interest. When these masks are taken off people talk as they think in real terms to each other privately and they come up with concepts like "the democratic deficit" when beneath them millions of Europeans want to be European but are excluded from the discourse of Europe. They are the excluded voices, like the voices of slaves when slavery existed. They are building up a range which is being reflected in the anti-European votes all over Europe. They want Europe to speak about real things such as unemployment, recovery of economic prospects, peace and genuine international relations.

In the area of unemployment there is a scandalous failure at Community level; the fear generated among the unemployed in France, Italy and elsewhere is being turned into anger and frustration against migrant groups. It is not a question, as Mr. Delors said, that we must listen and change our language, there is a much bigger matter at stake, which is that Europe cannot be a monetary Europe. I have a message to pass, through you, Sir, to the Minister and his successor — the Nordic countries seeking accession will ask and insist that unemployment is as important in the newly shaped Europe as monetary stability. They will ask what was not asked before, that the unemployment rate in the Community shall not be allowed to move beyond the Community average without certain mechanisms being introduced.

The Minister referred to many points in his speech and I support many of them. However, I warn him that the formal rhetoric will not be suficient. Europe of the peoples wants action on unemployment, living standards, democratisation of the economy and solidarity. They are aching to detoxify themselves and Maastricht from the influence which Thatcher-Reaganism had on its essential economic principles. Instead of solidarity being destroyed in Europe they want a new Europe of solidarity on issues like employment and income. When the Scandinavian countries demand this in their accession Ireland should support them in any new arrangements which follow.

On behalf of the Green Party, Comhaontas Glas, I want to say we are opposing this Bill. Why will the Minister and Government not be more honest and openly admit that they support a federal Europe the foundations of which, according to Commissioner Bangemann, are laid in the provisions of this Bill? Perhaps the Minister thinks he knows better and that Commissioner Bangemann, next in line to President Delors, does not know what he is talking about. I would recommend that the Minister read today's editorial in the Daily Telegraph which demands that it is now time to tell the truth about Maastricht.

A paper I never read or would read; it is anti-national.

The Minister ought to read it on this occasion when he might learn something to his advantage.

It is a low type piece of journalism. I would not take my catechism from the Daily Telegraph and anybody who does should really reflect.

There has been much play made of the word "subsidiarity". "Subsidiarity" will be nothing more than a smokescreen to attack environmental legislation. We are all well aware of what the Minister and the majority in this House mean by "subsidiarity"; it will just give them more room to manoeuvre out of any environmental restrictions put on this country by the European Community.

The record of implementation of EC Directives regarding the environment here has been appalling and has resulted in the current circumstances in which some of our most sacred ecologically fragile areas, such as The Burren and Luggala, face extinction at the hands of the arrogant irresponsible Philistines in the Office of Public Works. Furthermore, present legislation emanating from the European Community clearly shows that their commitment to the environment and its protection leaves much to be desired. Indeed, their recent decision to give the go-ahead to the destruction of The Burren proves that point. When the Minister refers to high environmental standards in the Community obviously he is measuring those standards against his, which I contend would not take much to better.

The Maastricht Treaty does absolutely nothing to protect our environment. In fact, Greenpeace came out strongly against the ratification of Maastricht in both Ireland and Denmark — unprecedented for that environmental organisation — as did Earthwatch, another extremely highly regarded environmental organisation. Needless to say, the Green Party worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to inform people of the very serious downside of the Maastricht Treaty.

The reason we propose voting against this Bill is that we do not accept the decision of the Irish people on Maastricht because it was a decision obtained by misrepresentation and lack of information. We contend that had sufficient information been supplied to the people as it was in Denmark, where they rejected the Treaty, or in France, where they almost rejected it, almost certainly we would have had a different result.

In the course of his introductory remarks on this Bill the Minister said:

We in Ireland are better informed than most of our partners.

He pointed out how our Government went to considerable trouble to inform the Irish people about the content of the Maastricht Treaty and its implications, providing a short guide thereto and so on. Now he has the gall to take credit for how he informed the Irish people, which is just incredible. The fact of the matter is that the information was pure propaganda, lies, distortions, omissions and inaccuracies. It is interesting to note that the two countries in which referenda were held, Denmark and France, the results were terribly close because their electorate were informed. In addition I might add that excessive use of public funds was not allowed in those countries. The French Government were prevented from advertising for a "yes" vote on television, whereas here massive amounts were spent placing full page advertisements in all our national and provincial papers. What many people are now asking is: had the Government been forced to provide balanced, impartial information instead of partisan information, would the people have voted as they did? I do not blame the Minister for wanting to avoid any opportunity that would give the people a second chance.

Ireland always has called for nuclear disarmament at the United Nations. But after we agree to a common approach we shall no longer be able to do so. The Minister must be a complete fool if he believes that the other 11 member states, all members of NATO, will join us in calling for nuclear disarmament. I predict it will be the other way round, that we will be toeing their line, no longer taking the principled stand adopted by people like the late Frank Aiken which gave us so much international respect among those seeking a peaceful nuclear-free world.

I am grateful to most of the Deputies for their interventions and very much appreciate their thoughtful, helpful comments. I might refer particularly to the contribution of the spokesman of the Labour Party, Deputy Michael D. Higgins. It is fair to place on the record that Deputy Higgins went to Somalia at his own expense in a courageous, generous fashion to see at first hand the devastation that continues to be that tragic country. I salute and pay tribute to him in that regard. I agree with him that it is unfortunate — probably one of the most serious weaknesses in the approach of the European Community to Somalia — that the EC have an office in Nairobi rather than in Mogadishu. Like Deputy Michael D. Higgins, I have been pressing for such an office to be located in Somalia but without any appreciable success. My belief is that if you must have diplomacy, you do not conduct it at long range but rather through a presence on the ground. It is unfortunate that that is not the position there.

In respect of Ambassador Sahnoun, I have already indicated by way of response to parliamentary questions my sadness at the departure of this marvellous man who, as Deputy Higgins said, has done so much in his efforts to bring together the two warring factions, led by General Adeed on the one hand and interim president, Almahdi, on the other. I wish his succesor much success and hope he will achieve what we all wish, that is, peace and the reintroduction of a basic civil authority in the first instance and thereafter a basic infrastructure.

In regard to Deputy Garland's contribution, all I can say is that he appears to be against everything and for nothing. He rejects the will of the Irish people. That is undemocratic by any standard.

As I made clear in my introductory remarks, I intend to continue to bring a distinctive Irish contribution to the work of the Council of Foreign Ministers. Deputy O'Keeffe, whom I thank for a critical but fair analysis of the situation, made some interesting observations about the need to intensify the involvement of the Oireachtas in European Community affairs. The view of the Government on the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee is well known. There is no need for me to repeat it now. I already addressed that issue in the course of Question Time in the House this afternoon. As I stated then, I expect the position on that committee to be clarified shortly.

Deputy O'Keeffe mentioned also the idea of a European Senate, which idea was first mooted in the preparatory discussions in the Intergovernmental Conference on Political Union. However, it was rejected by the European Parliament on the basis, I believe, that the degree of European integration possible under the Maastricht Treaty did not justify the establishment of a European Senate. Of course it may be that at a later stage in the process of integration, perhaps in 1996, there will be room for a European Senate. However, I would sound a note of caution in that regard. I believe that the intervention of a Senate could well dilute and as a consequence, weaken the operational effect of the Council of Ministers. Obviously the weakening of the Council of Ministers is not in Ireland's best interests.

Deputy O'Keeffe in the course of his helpful contribution mentioned the possible location of the European Central Bank in Ireland. I share the Deputy's desire to ensure that Ireland's interest in locating European institutions here is pressed home. The whole issue of the location of institutions remains an open one. It will be debated at the forthcoming summit to be held in Edinburgh, when we shall pursue this matter vigorously. I might add that the Taoiseach has already intervened at successive Summit meetings on the need to locate an additional European institution here. He has been vigorous in his pursuit of this and I have no doubt he will continue his efforts.

The question of ratification by the other member states was raised by Deputy O'Keeffe. The Deputy is aware of the position in Denmark and in the United Kingdom. I have already indicated that Luxembourg, Greece and Italy have completed their ratification procedures. In Belgium the Treaty is being discussed in Parliament at present and formal ratification is expected shortly. In Germany parliamentary discussions are underway and ratification procedures should be concluded before long. In Spain the Lower House voted in favour of the Treaties on 29 October and the Spanish Parliament will meet later in the month to give formal approval to the Treaty.

In the Netherlands parliamentary discussions are likely to continue until December and in Portugal the same situation pertains. In France, as Deputy O'Keeffe is aware, a referendum was held on 20 September, a referendum which was narrowly passed but, as the history books will indicate, it was passed. The instruments of ratification are in the process of being lodged with the Italian Government.

Deputy O'Keeffe seems to feel that the Government is not being sufficiently committed to subsidiarity. Let me repeat again that Ireland will contemplate no dilution of the powers of the Commission — a view shared by most member states.

The area of human rights was very ably addressed by Deputy Michael Higgins and others. On the question of human rights I would point out that the UN Charter lists the promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as one of its purposes and principles. In addition, a number of international human rights covenants under the auspices of the United Nations are designed to ensure respect for human rights and human rights situations. These are considered in the Third Committee of the General Assembly and in the UN Commission on Human Rights. All such human rights violations are addressed in detail and on a regular basis in the UN system.

Deputy O'Keeffe raised the question of the situation in Yugoslavia. The Deputy feels that the response of the Community has not been adequate. The European Community and its member states have from the outset of the crisis made every effort to resolve the conflict and to bring about a settlement. These efforts are being pursued through the International Conference on Former Yugoslavia, jointly chaired by the EC and the UN, through the efforts on the ground of the EC monitor mission in which Ireland has been an active participant, and through the exercise of the collective weight of the Community to seek to persuade the parties, especially Serbia, to co-operate in bringing about a peaceful settlement. I would very much appreciate that we would not put the total blame on Serbia; there are always two sides to every argument. To suggest for one moment that Serbia is exclusively responsible for this particular obscenity, this ongoing tragedy, might be historically incorrect.

The Community and its member states are also playing a unique part in the humanitarian relief efforts. The human tragedy which continues to unfold in the former Yugoslavia with the onset of winter was a major issue for the European Council which met in Birmingham on 16 October. The Council directed that the delivery of EC assistance, for which 213 million ECU is ready for immediate disbursement, should be accelerated. This is now under way. This vital assistance includes foodstuffs, medicines, shelter facilities and trucks. Individual member states are also providing further staff and resources to strengthen the capacity of the UN High Commission for Refugees to tackle the enormous problems afflicting the victims of this tragedy.

Ireland is contributing to these efforts. In addition to the £100,000 given to UNHCR, £200,000 has already been allocated for humanitarian aid to the region. Ireland will also supply up to four logistical officers to assist the UNHCR and to strengthen the effectiveness of the humanitarian aid operation in the Yugoslav region.

In regard to the criticisms made by Democratic Left, Deputy De Rossa seems to ignore the outcome of the referendum. The Irish people gave overwhelming support to the Treaty. They were well informed and found to be so in a survey of knowledge of the Treaty by The European newspaper. I must remind Deputy De Rossa that the motion which will be before us later this evening is but one more step in the process of ratification.

Deputy De Rossa criticised the degree of democratic consultation under the heading of foreign policy, justice and home affairs issues. First, let me say that the Government in their actions in these areas are directly responsible to this House. Second, the European Parliament's powers to supervise those areas are increased — it has no rights in Title VI matters at present.

Finally, as regards Western European Union, we are not and will not be members of that organisation so its committees are not a matter of concern to us. The civil service members of Community Committees are responsible to me as Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs will continue to control the position which is taken on behalf of the Government at such meetings.

Deputy De Rossa mentioned the Delors proposals on the Structural Funds. These proposals are still being debated in the Council and I would continue to be optimistic unlike the Deputy who brings an element of pessimism into the equation.

In regard to the use of the words "begging bowl", they are a throw-away piece of rhetoric which really do not apply. Ireland at no stage has gone cap-in-hand to anybody. We are equal partners within the European Community and we will continue to play our role as such.

Question put and declared carried.