European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

Before the debate was adjourned last night I mentioned that a number of speakers had indicated a different policy was being followed in tackling the drugs problem in certain countries in Europe where radical measures have been taken. In Switzerland, for example, the Government is trying to purchase heroin for resale on the market to bring the price down and to undermine those selling it. That is an extremely radical measure and I am not sure I agree with it but many people will watch with interest to see if it is effective. As we are all aware, in Holland a different attitude is adopted towards cannabis and other soft drugs which are made available in small quantities to drug addicts.

Yesterday the Minister for Justice replied to questions in the House about the drug problem throughout the country, including the south inner city of Dublin, which forms part of my constituency. A debate is taking place on how we should tackle this problem. We should consider the question of whether the Garda Síochána should be told to give hard drugs a higher priority given that a larger quantity of soft drugs has been confiscated. If the Garda were instructed to give priority to the confiscation of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and other hard drugs we might be able to prevent drug related crime and avoid the human tragedy whereby some people become addicted to drugs.

The point has been made that the European Union needs to consider this matter, not only to stem the flow of drugs, which is important, but to determine how the problem should be tackled within the Union. We may have to take radical measures. The thinking appears to be that if the problem can be contained at the present level it will not get worse. Within my own constituency and the constituencies of many other Deputies in the House the problem is serious. This has a knock-on effect in terms of crime and human misery.

On the question of the future of the European Union, Switzerland would have no problem in gaining entry but Turkey would, politically and economically. I am not belittling it but it also has a different political tradition. In time it may become a member but in the short term many matters need to be resolved before it can be considered for membership. I understand that Cyprus and Malta will be included in the next phase, which is welcome.

Everybody has expressed concern about the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The mind boggles when one considers their economic position and we will face a variety of challenges when they knock on the door and seek entry. However, we will have to meet these challenges in a positive way as they have every right to become members of the European Union. It will be extremely difficult to devise a framework for over 20 states and for these states to work effectively. We must not, however, undermine the existing Union and throw out the baby with the bath water.

Norway, Sweden, Finland and Austria are considering their position within Europe at present and whether their sovereignty would be eroded. We have to ensure that if the European Union is enlarged we will not feel isolated and that it will not be irrelevant to us. This matter was raised by the electorate during the Maastricht Treaty referendum campaign. We do not want the European Union to become so large that people will feel it is irrelevant. It is important that they should feel they are European and the European Union works well. I have no doubt that the problems can be resolved and during the years we will see the European Union increase in size.

As the membership increases, there will be problems in terms of voting rights at the Council. In many ways smaller states can be of help to Ireland in the sense that we should be able to use our voting strength to stop larger countries such as Germany and France from pushing things through with which we do not agree. It may be an advantage, therefore, if smaller countries join and it should also lead to greater accountability. In this regard I welcome the accession of the four new states and the enlargement of the European Union. While this is inevitable we must ensure that it remains accountable and becomes relevant to people in Ireland and throughout the European Union. Many of the countries which will apply for membership in future face political and economic problems. As many Members said, this matter should be discussed more often as enlargement will present problems and have spin-off effects. In those countries where referenda are due to take place we have been put forward as a good example to show that the European Community has been good for us and vice versa. Given our size we have a major influence in European affairs.

I welcome this Bill and congratulate the members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on presenting the report. I hope we will get the opportunity to discuss Europe's future as often as possible as it is very important for this country.

I commend the Minister for bringing this important issue before the House. I have not had the opportunity to read in full the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. We had a long struggle to establish this joint committee. One of the benefits is that it allows for reasoned and rational debate by committed people on issues such as European enlargement. In the past we had the opportunity during Question Time to raise issues but not to debate them. Members can now engage in a more wide-ranging debate and investigate the issues in depth.

We have come a long way since our accession to the European Communities in 1973. At that stage the club was small but things have changed dramatically since then. The aspirations and priorities of the European Union have changed. The political structures in Europe have changed with the break up of the Soviet Union and the introduction of democracy throughout Eastern Europe. Whilst those developments are welcome, they bring problems that need to be addressed. I welcome whole heartedly the enlargement of the European Union. We are now debating the proposed accession of Norway, Austria, Finland and Sweden, countries that are economically strong. While the economic strength of those countries offers us certain trading opportunities, it will also bring competition and other difficulties which will have to be addressed. The move towards a more cohesive and united Europe has to be good for everybody in the long term. The obstacles must be confronted and surmounted, making Europe better for all.

The cost of enlargement will be a major issue. We have benefited enormously from the European Communities. I am sure that citizens in countries where they are voting on accession are asking their governments what financial benefits will accrue to them from entry to the European Union and unless they receive substantial commitments that it will be to their benefit financially they will not be interested in joining the Union. People will join a group or an association if they feel there is something in it for them. Transferring resources to countries joining the European Union will result in the loss of resources to other areas but that is the price one pays for enlargement and integration and a stronger and more united Europe. We have to be willing to pay it.

We have to deal with the problems caused by our financial dependence on the European Union. Because of our weak economic position when we joined the Community in 1973, all financial transfers have been to Ireland's benefit. That does not stem from the begging bowl mentality but the fact that huge transfers were necessary to allow us to catch up with other member states. We had to fight significant battles for resources for agriculture, industry and trade but on the whole we won them and we were then able to raise our standard of living to an acceptable level.

New entrants to the European Union will be seeking similar support to that we received in the 1970s and 1980s and we cannot try to block that. This will obviously result in some reduction of funding to Government Departments but we have to accept it as part of the price of creating a more united Europe.

We need to address unemployment from the European perspective. If one compares economic barometers such as inflation rates or interest rates in member states, we are supposedly one of the ideal economies in the preparation for a single European currency but the vast majority of Irish people make their judgment on the level of unemployment. We have a huge unemployment problem and much more European assistance will have to be directed to it. Low interest rates and low inflation are no compensation for the fact that 300,000 people are unemployed, taking account of the number on the live register, those on early retirement and social employment schemes and so on.

If in the morning we were to have another referendum on our membership of the European Union — which I am sure would be accepted by the vast majority — the question we would face on the doorsteps is: what is Europe doing about unemployment and job creation?

In 1973 it was hoped that the development of our agricultural industry, with the assistance of European funding, would result in major growth in employment in that area. Unfortunately, despite the assistance of European funding in developing agriculture, the nature of the development was such that while it resulted in bigger farms, fewer people worked on the land. One of the great success stories of Europe as far as Ireland is concerned — the development of our agriculture industry — did not result in the retention or the expansion of the number of people working in agriculture but in a significant reduction in the numbers employed in agriculture. That problem continues up to the present and all the figures suggest that in the next ten years fewer people will work in agriculture. This is a major social problem which will lead to the decimation of rural areas and while we cannot realistically expect European policies or funding to be directed at encouraging people to return to the land, we must aim to ensure that our rural areas survive.

This morning I read a report in one of the daily newspapers on the possibility of extending the services available through rural post offices in order to ensure their survival. Perhaps this is not an issue of European significance but if we are to encourage people to remain in rural areas, thereby maintaining the rural economy we must ensure that the maximum number of services is available. I hope the Government will take note of the report to which I refer and will act on it.

To return to the question of European enlargement, one of the issues that will have to be dealt with by 1996, is our defence policy. I did not see the television programme last night on the future of the Defence Forces; I hope to have an opportunity to view it shortly but I am aware from media reports this morning that, according to a survey undertaken by the programme makers, a majority of people here support, to some degree, European defence co-operation and structures. That is not really surprising because the days of the Soviet threat and the Cold War are long gone and people are now asking how European countries can co-operate with each other to ensure that peace prevails in Europe and any difficulties, particularly in Eastern Europe, can be resolved. European defence and security co-operation will obviously play an important role in this regard.

I would like an early debate on this. We often shy away from debating defence policy as if it was some confidential issue about which nobody knows other than the Minister. That is not helpful. Debating defence policy should not be any different from debating finance, marine or social welfare policies. Inevitably, people will have different views, all valid, but it should be possible to debate them in public and make whatever decisions are necessary. We are much too secretive about how we will proceed in European defence and security co-operation. That will be a major issue in the run up to 1996 and the earlier we have a public debate on it, the better. I hope the Minister for Foreign Affairs will avail of the earliest opportunity to let us know his views on that. During Question Time to the Minister for Defence we are generally told that the Department of Defence cannot make any real progress in this area until a Government decision is taken on European co-operation and security presumably on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Another area of Government that would be affected by European enlargement is the Department of the Marine. When we joined the European Community in 1973 our fishing industry in general was sold down the river. Agriculture was seen as the priority industry and seemed to benefit from all the advantages that Europe could offer. The fishing industry and the people whose livelihoods depended on it were left very much on the outside. We have never recovered from that policy decision — it could certainly be called a policy disaster.

I hope the Deputy is not blaming me for that as well.

It is difficult to see how we can significantly recover from that decision because the resources which should have been allocated to Ireland in 1973 were allocated to other areas and, as a result, the number of people working in the fishing industry is at an all time low. Notwithstanding our commitments in 1973 and that the Irish waters were more or less opened up to our European partners, I hope we can take action to protect and develop our fishing industry. While there have been many problems between 1973 and 1993, this problem appears to be getting worse in that the Portuguese and Spanish fishing fleets will now have greater access to our waters resulting in further job losses and additional problems for our fishermen. Final decisions have not yet been taken by the Council of Fisheries Ministers, but even at the latest Council of Fisheries meeting no progress was made to protect the Irish industry. I hope some steps will be taken to make progress in that regard.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs will be aware from his period as a member of a previous coalition Government that when our agriculture industry came under serious threat in 1983 and 1984 as a result of the proposal to introduce milk quotas, the Taoiseach, former Deputy Garret FitzGerald — ably assisted by the Tánaiste, Dick Spring — travelled to the European capitals and secured an excellent deal for farmers through direct negotiations with the European Heads of Government. I hope the same can be done for the people who depend on our fishing industry and that the Tánaiste and the Minister for the Marine will be successful in putting the point that the industry did not get a fair crack of the whip in 1973 and has been struggling since. It could be wiped out overnight unless it is given further assistance. While welcoming the enlargement of the Community and the opportunities it presents we must also be mindful of the difficulties it will pose.

In considering amending legislation to facilitate enlargement of the EU we must recognise and acknowledge what has been achieved by the EU since its foundation and since we joined it in 1972. Its raison d'etre was to ensure harmony and co-operation among European states after two successive world wars. By and large that sense of co-operation and ability to coexist has been effectively fostered by the Community. It is important that that be recognised externally and, indeed, it manifests itself in a desire by other countries to join the EU. I welcome the decisions taken by Austria and Finland and the imminent decision by Norway and Sweden. That is a recognition of the potential for harmonious co-operation and coexistence.

I have some reservations about the continued enlargement of the EU in an unplanned fashion. The question of decision making must be considered. There are 12 Commissioners who form the cabinet, so to speak, of the EU and they make decisions but what will happen when there will be 14, 16 and, perhaps, 20 member states before the turn of the century? The ability of the EU to make effective decisions in a competent and speedy manner will be undermined unless there is significant reform of the decision making process. I would like to hear the Tánaiste's views on this matter. It is important that the rights of smaller nations be protected and I am worried by fliers regarding the possibility of countries like Ireland perhaps having no say at Commission level in an enlarged Europe. The Tánaiste should outline his views on that matter also.

On accountability, it is important that there be reform of this House to enable Irish MEPs to account to this House and to the public at large for their stewardship at European level. That level of apathy and disinterest in politics and politicians generally is magnified when EU matters are debated. That is unfortunate because many improvements over the past 20 years have been as a consequence of our membership of the EU. At the time of elections to the European Parliament the level of disinterest, which is significant in terms of this institution and local government, is further multiplied. The turnout at the last European elections was something over 50 per cent which is a worrying trend. Reform of this House would facilitate a two way exchange of information and ideas and enable Irish MEPs give an account of their membership of the European Parliament. That reform is long overdue and should be undertaken by the Government.

It is likely that enlargement of the Community will accelerate significantly between now and the end of the century. The four countries most frequently talked about will be well established in the Union by the turn of the century and will be joined possibly by a plethora of other nations in eastern Europe such as Poland, Turkey, perhaps Cyprus and Hungary. We must have a rational debate about this development. Given the geographical position of these nations and the yoke of tyranny under which they laboured for the past 50 years, it is easy to see why the EU is so attractive. How far further will the EU continue to gallop eastwards without having any logical or reasonable debate about its future and whether some other independent economic and political union should be facilitated to emerge in central Europe and further east?

Obviously the EU has a responsibility to ensure political stability on its eastern flank and that is why much of the momentum to facilitate an enlarged Europe is coming from Germany. That is understandable given the history of the former West Germany and East Germany. The requirement for political stability is enormous in that region. We can facilitate political stability and the emergence of stable democracies by making funds available to enable these countries consider in a rational forum and atmosphere whether it is in their long term best interests to join the EU.

We are on the last gravy train from Europe if enlargement continues eastwards at the pace which we are led to believe it will and that will have enormous consequences for this economy. That worries me because there is no evidence that this economy has used the funds given to it in a satisfactory way which would enable it to compete on a level playing pitch.

In a new Europe it will be necessary to ensure that our unique cultural heritage is protected and fostered. There is a tendency to have blanket political uniformity in EU countries but it is important to preserve those features that make us different. In an Irish context I am talking about preserving and promoting the Irish language. It would be laudable if, in the context of the treaties to facilitate enlargement, the Government sought to ensure that the Irish language was given the status of a working language in the Community. This would be of enormous significance to those who have worked tirelessly over the years to foster, preserve and promote the Irish language. There is enormous goodwill towards the language and recognition of it as a working language within the EU would be very significant. Following accession by Finland and Austria it is possible that there will be a requirement to recognise minority languages as working languages of the EU. This presents an opportunity for us to redress this glaring omission in our treaty of accession. I welcome the proposed enlargement of the EU through the accession of Austria and Finland and, hopefully, Norway and Sweden.

I wish to dwell on one of the points raised by Deputy Creed and the concerns which should be voiced during such a debate. All of us will welcome the accession of Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden to the EU and the benefits this will bring. It would be impossible to imagine a European Union without these states, and I am disappointed that Switzerland did not seek membership. Fears have been expressed about the further enlargement of the EU to the east, but we cannot oppose accession to the EU by countries which are seeking to establish democratic structures. Membership of the Union will be a natural progression as democratic structures are established and put on a firm footing in these countries. We should encourage them in doing this.

An issue which will have to be considered is representation in the democratic structures of the European Union. This was also a problem when the Union was much smaller. As more countries join the Union membership of the European Parliament will increase from 567 to approximately 800. This poses many practical problems. It is often said that we do not need 166 TDs to run a democratic structure, and one can only imagine the huge problems which will arise in a European Parliament with 800 members speaking in diverse tongues. This problem has to be tackled by the EU.

When I first became a member of the Parliament there were ten Irish representatives and the membership was approximately 180. We now have 16 representatives and the membership of the Parliament is 567. Our representation has been reduced from 5 per cent to less than 2.5 per cent. Further enlargement of the Union will mean that we will have less opportunity to make our voice heard in the Parliament. As democratic politicians we should ensure that there are more Irish representatives in the Parliament.

Given that the Parliament sits in plenary session for one week only, if every Member spoke each would have less than one minute to put forward their views, or even less when Commissioners and members of the Council attend. Members who have been nominated by their groups to speak will have considerably less chance of doing so as the Union becomes larger. This is an important point which should be addressed. I am not suggesting that membership of the Parliament should be limited to 300, 400 or 500 but as a smaller state we are entitled to have a voice. I recently visited Washington where states are represented in Congress on the basis of population and represented in the Senate on the basis of the size of the state — larger states have two senators while very small states such as Maine and Rhode Island have one senator. Some of the smaller states have produced Presidents of the United States. The EU will have to consider the introduction of a bicameral system so that countries will have representation on the basis of their size. The American system reflects the number of states and the Government should be pressing for the introduction of a similar system in the EU.

As the Parliament becomes larger there will be demands for a transfer of decision-making powers from the Commission and Council to its members. As democrats we should support such a move. However, it will mean that the reflection of the national position will be diminished not only within the Parliament but also within the groupings. The socialist group is the largest in the Parliament, yet it has only one Irish representative.

Just barely.

This does not reflect the level of support for the Labour Party or the result obtained by it at the last general election. In the European elections the Labour Party retained one seat only while the Green Party secured two seats. Judging from the position they have taken on certain matters, they do not reflect to any great extent the views of the Irish public. This was evident in the recent debate on the fishing crisis in the Bay of Biscay where Irish and British boats fishing for tuna were attacked by Spanish vessels and given a hostile reception. Those members of the Parliament did not support our right to fish in those waters. They considered our fishing industry to be less important than prevention of the by-catch of dolphins. They were elected for their Green policies but they do not reflect the views of the vast majority of people. The setting up of a second chamber would ensure a greater voice for Ireland in Europe. I hope that problem will be addressed in the not too distant future.

Problems also arise in regard to the centres where meetings are held and the need for a central location for the Parliament. Because of the French influence through the years, Strasbourg has been selected for the plenary sessions of the European Parliament. Brussels is the administrative centre and Luxembourg is the venue for a meeting once or twice a year — to pander to that small state and its needs. The practical problems of holding any kind of meeting in Strasbourg or Luxembourg — provincial towns in their own right — mean an enormous transfer of material, papers, civil servants and members of these areas. Surely that will have to stop. Brussels will have to be established as the centre for the European Parliament for all its sessions. A gesture might be made, once every three years, to have a meeting in Strasbourg or Luxembourg. The huge transfer every month, with the exception of one month for holidays, to Strasbourg which has a small airport, but reasonable train connections, is not practical. An enormous amount of time is spent by people travelling from Donegal, Galway or even Dublin to such destinations to make their one minute contribution in the plenary session. The Government — like those of other states — should demand a permanent centre for the European Parliament. Everyone agrees that Brussels should be the centre since it has the Commission and the Council offices. It would mean a much more efficient approach to meetings.

I have had the privilege of representing Ireland in the European Parliament for eight years and in the Council of Ministers for five years. Members with that experience will ralise that Strasbourg and Luxembourg are uncontrolled centres for the purpose of meetings. If we are to have an efficient operation on behalf of Europe, as far as possible Parliament and the institutions will have to be in one centre. Every country demands part of the institutions of Europe. The Minister will be aware that the only European institution here is in Dún Laoghaire. It is not a high powered centre and its impact is not of great benefit to this country. We all seek to have such institutions in Ireland. If we are to spend taxpayers' money efficiently, do our work properly and make a better contribution this must be one of the first decisions following the further enlargement of the Community. There must be a centre and the consensus in Ireland is that Brussels would have the greatest support.

I look forward to further enlargement in the future, although it means problems for us in the area of agriculture. We have been given considerable sums of money to build up our economy which, I have no doubt, will be most efficient following the expenditure of funds which will become available during the next few years. We are given the opportunity to become efficient for enlargement and we must treat it seriously, having got the Cohesion Funds, which will be a form of compensation for enlargement in other areas.

We have a reasonable representation in the Commission and our Ministers acquit themselves well at meetings of the Council of Ministers. Because of the enlargement of the European Parliament I am concerned that it is not physically possible to get our message across in a coherent manner. We do not sit as members of an Irish group in Europe but every Member who goes out from this country works for the betterment and advancement of our economy. The recent experience with the Green Party has made it aware that it represents people, it must also be aware that it should reflect the views and needs of this country.

The Parliament which numbers 567 members, is being enlarged to 800 and with further enlargement it could be 1,000. It does not add up to democracy to have a parliament of that size. We should not consider that enlargement is beneficial to the democratic element of decision making. A parliament comprising 1,000 members is like the congresses which used to be held in Russia where one or two leaders of each group would have their say. It is a serious problem that has not been sufficiently debated. It needs to be debated and is becoming more urgent as time goes on. The only reasonable solution in the short term appears to be a second Chamber which would reflect the strength, not just of the populations, but the states that make up the European Community.

I wish to refer to a debate which will certainly take place in future. Last night I watched a television programme about the efficiency of our Army and the future role it may have in the Western European Union. Such a debate should be held in this House. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Spring, will consider our position, as a member of the European Union, and the extension of support for any military arm which will be under the aegis of the European Community. As the number of wars diminishes, the peacekeeping nature of our membership of the United Nations becomes more urgent. The same applies to the European Community within that forum. We saw the lack of cohesion in places such as Bosnia. Other nations were asked to make sacrifices in that area on an individual basis. The European Union will have to decide whether to act in concert in peacekeeping or leave it to individual nations. This must be debated but the Bill is limited to the accession of the three countries we mentioned. I welcome the enlargement, it creates problems but they can be overcome and should be addressed.

It now seems certain that we are going full speed ahead to an enlarged Europe. Certainly, that will present major challenges for this country but it will also offer major opportunities if we are ready to grasp them, particularly in the areas of trade and tourism — the areas for which I am spokesperson on this side of the House. However, it will also mean increased competition for our exporters and those involved in tourism.

Last Sunday Finland voted in favour of accession to the European Union by 56 per cent to 43 per cent against. The Finish Parliament must now vote by a two-third majority in favour of membership to complete the accession procedure which I understand is a matter of form. Austria voted in favour of accession in June 1994, Sweden will hold its referendum on 13 November and Norway on 27 November. It appears those four countries will vote enthusiastically to join the rest of Europe. We must ask why they are doing so. Even the Americans believe it is better to be part of a united Europe than not. Europe is moving ahead more rapidly than any other trading bloc in the world and for that reason countries outside the European Union perceive Europe as a place of potential.

To ensure cohesiveness, more contact between member states and a feeling of involvement, the present structures must meet the aspirations of members. There have been rumblings here about devolution of power to Brussels and Strasbourg. The European Union has issued a special press release on initiatives launched in Europe and the number is staggering. However, while initiatives are introduced every week, such as the European Drug Prevention Week, journalism awards, Euro-Mediterranean partnership proposals and satellite communication, people in many peripheral areas such as Ireland are unaware of them. Even if they are aware of the multiplicity of schemes on offer, they do not know how to apply for them. People privy to such information derive the advantages.

From a tourism and trade point of view, enlargement of the Union presents considerable opportunities for us to increase tourist numbers from countries such as Norway, Finland and Austria. Approximately 32,000 tourists from Norway, Sweden and Finland come here each year, but very few come from Austria. Last year more than 300,000 Norwegians, 510,000 Swedish and 100,000 Finns visited Great Britain. Approximately, 315,000 people from Denmark visited Britain, while only 17,000 visited Ireland. The percentage of Austrian tourists who come here each year is very low whereas more than 180,000 go to Great Britain each year. There is a great potential for our tourism industry in that respect.

I fail to understand why a greater number of tourists from those countries do not visit Ireland, especially having regard to our historical links with Norway, Sweden and Finland through the Viking heritage. There must be something wrong when so many visit Great Britain but so few come here. The expansion of the European Union will present us with a better opportunity to sell Ireland more vigorously and to encourage more toutists from those countries to come here.

We could learn a great deal from the people of Austria about promoting tourism. Austria is one of my favourite countries. It has captured the outdoor activity market. We are trying to develop walkways but in many ways they are more an excuse for walkways than what they should resemble. People are directed to such walkways across bogland and other rough terrain whereas in Austria walkways are well gravelled and signposted in terms of distance and place names. Such outdoor activity is a growth area in tourism, but we are failing to offer people a similar standard of product to that available in Austria.

Enlargement of the European Union will present us with many challenges. If we do not upgrade and improve our product as the Austrians have done in Tyrol and other regions we will lose a share of the market. I hope we can learn from the Austrians in terms of how to manage activity oriented holidays. They encourage walking and cycling holidays and are sensitive to such activities on their main highways. Here walkers and cyclists are frequently in danger from insensitive motorists. For the past 100 years the Austrians have had top class cycling lanes and walkways.

We can also learn a great deal from the Austrians in terms of food presentation, quality of service and education in the food sector. It is mandatory for trainees to work in hotels during the summer months — free of charge — and the high calibre of people employed in the food sector reflects the quality of training they receive. In terms of training, food presentation and hospitality skills, the Austrians leave us far behind. We have a great deal of catching up to do in that regard. Some of those weaknesses were recognised in the operational programme, but commitment of a mere £1 million over six years to develop walking trails and cycling routes is meagre and will not allow us to compete with Austria.

Norway, Sweden and Finland are beautiful countries and their accession to the European Union will also increase competition. The number of German tourists visiting Ireland in recent years has increased steadily, although it has remained static this year. Approximately 240,000 Germans visit Ireland each year because of our landscape and contemporary culture. In recent times we have made the mistake of presenting our culture and heritage in a plastic, artificial fashion.

Under the last operational programme we went crazy creating interpretative centres nationwide. That is fine, provided they are attractive and properly constructed. Unfortunately, we did not have the expertise or knowledge to create attractive tourist centres or present our culture in an interesting, realistic manner, resulting in static displays in centres which I predict will be difficult to maintain, or perhaps even retain, and may remain open for a few months only annually.

We are now facing into a new era of competition in tourism within the context of an enlarged European Union and must be very vigilant about it. Under the next operational programme we will have to ensure that any undertaking in this area is of a very high quality and is relevant to the marketplace. We must ascertain what German, French or other tour operators in Europe want and endeavour to provide high quality packages or products rather than the type of product we may feel is all right for ourselves.

Deputy Kavanagh referred extensively to enlargement of the European Union eastwards, to include countries like Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Baltic states. This could happen before the next millennium and will present us with further competition not alone in tourism and trade but in agriculture, bearing in mind the very high dependency of those countries on agriculture.

Therefore, we must be much more aware of what is happening in Europe. We should adopt a more "hands on" approach because this Parliament in many ways is becoming ever more irrelevant vis-á-vis major decisions taken in Europe. Although we may enact legislation on local, national or smaller issues, generally speaking increasing legislation emanating from Europe is binding on us. We must take stock of what is happening there and consider it more seriously since our future depends on what takes place in Europe.

Places like Poland have land connections with the remainder of Europe, with its large tourist markets in Germany, France and Italy. We are the only island on the periphery of Europe and that poses difficulties for us, particularly in the peak tourist season here, those six weeks for which people operating the tourist industry make their livelihoods. At times people experience difficulty gaining access here due to lack of ferry and airline capacity. With ever more land connections throughout Europe, with autobahns stretching across the continent further eastwards, we will become even more peripheral.

When people contend that this will be the last tranche of Structural Funds for Ireland I become very worried because the amount of such funds filtering through to 1999 will not render us competitive with our more developed European counterparts. In Europe, rather than adopting the begging bowl attitude, we shall have to point out the realities and difficulties presented to us in an enlarged Community. Sometimes I am worried when it is claimed in Europe that we have a great economy. Indeed I heard the Taoiseach say in the House that we now have the best economy in Europe. Such statements are very foolish because we all know, for example, that one cannot compare the German and Irish economies. When one lumps together all of the people benefiting from the multiplicity of social welfare schemes operating here, such as pre-retirement, disability, unemployment assistance and benefit, one realises there are in excess of 500,000 people unemployed. When one compares present figures with those in the 1980s when total unemployment amounted to approximately 250,000 and there were fewer schemes and no pre-retirement provision, there could well have been a revolution then. Now there are many more people unemployed, yet the Taoiseach tells Europe that we as a nation are progressing at top speed, that our economy is booming and so on but that is not the reality. We must paint a realistic picture of where we stand economically vis-à-vis our European partners. Bearing in mind the future distribution of European funds, the four new member states and those Eastern European countries, like Poland who will need Structural Funds, we must not marginalise ourselves. We cannot pretend we are now a fully developed nation ready to keep pace with the level of economic activity in countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Our fisheries policy has been referred to. I have witnessed a very industrious, lucrative fishing industry being almost wiped out in Kerry because of EC policy and Government policy which makes our fishermen unable in many cases to compete with the Spaniards, Dutch and other member states. Now we shall have to contend with the Norwegians. One of the main reasons the Norwegians did not join the EC in 1992 was that they were not prepared to allow access to their fisheries by the Portuguese and Spanish. I understand they have now come to some arrangement or achieved some derogation. At that time we did not fully appreciate the value of our fisheries to our economy, and we sold out our fishermen, their families and our fisheries industry generally. It is very late in the day to come to that realisation now. In any future negotiations — this was ably articulated by Deputy Bradford this morning — we must put fisheries to the top of our agenda and not use that industry as a bargaining lever to obtain other concessions; we must obtain concessions in fisheries. With increased competition from the Norwegians, Swedish and Finnish, our fishermen will face ever increasing difficulties in order merely to survive.

The accession of these four new member states to an enlarged European Union will present us with major challenges but also with opportunities if we are ready and able to avail ourselves of them. For example, there is the matter of devolution of power, the strength of our voice within an enlarged Europe. These are matters we must consider carefully and about which we must be vigilant at all times. Otherwise we could become very small players within Europe. Despite the cosmetics of the exercise, we could become irrelevant within Europe if we do not fight for our position as a small nation. That is the reason it is so important we be well briefed on everything happening within Europe and ensure that as much power as possible is devolved from the centre to national parliaments, especially local authorities.

Finally, Opposition Leaders in both Houses should have a greater say in what is happening in Europe. Being involved in negotiations would strengthen our position.

Like all other Members, Sir, I welcome the prospect of the accession of these four countries to the European Union. I know all of them. I have worked in Finland and have visited the others in different capacities, sometimes on holiday. I am sure the Tánaiste would agree with me that they will provide a notable enrichment to the cultural, social and economic life of the European Union. We all know Austria fairly well. Finland is very different from countries that most Irish people know. Its culture and traditions are very much apart from the rest of Europe and even from Nordic Europe as we know it. Sweden and Norway, I suppose, are far better known to us. There have been occasions in the past when not only their cultures but their economies have touched us in ways that we often did not appreciate, but they are countries that we know.

From the economic and social points of view some of these countries are interesting additions to the EU. Norway and Sweden and to a certain extent Finland could be regarded as exponents of what has come to be known in western Europe as the social market economy, even if Sweden is showing signs these days of having perhaps put too much of the emphasis on the social and rather too little on the market. I see the Tánaiste smiling. The Labour Party would do well to make the other error and put a little more emphasis on the market and not quite so much on the social. There are a great many things for the 12 member states of the European Union to learn from the experience of those countries, from how they have managed their economies and the evolution of their society, because we should not forget that Norway and Sweden particularly were in many ways late developers into the kind of societal structures that we take for granted in western Europe. Finland took a different path and, had it not been for Swedish influence, Finland might today be even more different from the rest of its neighbours than it is.

In many ways this accession will shift the centre of gravity of the European Union very much to the north and that will have political, social and economic effects which we would do well to reflect on. The accession agreements that have been made with these applicant countries show how flexible the European Union can be. They show a great deal of concern and recognition among the current member states of the European Union of the reality of life as it faces those countries. I had occasion recently to do a fairly comprehensive study of the accession agreements, and the range of measures included in these agreements to meet the specific needs of those countries is quite impressive.

To look at the agriculture side first, on this occasion the European Union decided not to adopt the process of gradual alignment of prices that was followed in previous accessions but to have an immediate alignment and compensate for the effects of that over a period, because of course in all of these four countries, with the possible exception of Sweden, farm prices have up to now been considerably higher than in the European Union. There is a provision built in to cover the period from 1995 to 1998 for digressive compensation on an across the board basis for the reductions that those countries face. In addition there is a curious provision built in called agricultural eligibility compensation. That has been put in specifically to take account of the fact that, even though these countries will come into a new system, if will take some time for it to become a part of their administration. A calculation has been made of what they might lose by the friction that will occur before they get fully up to speed with the way the European Union does its business and compensation has been built in for that.

There is a substantial provision for agro-environment measures, which is partly to meet the legitimate concerns of those countries with the kind of pressure that has come on natural resources in Western Europe from the agricultural policy we have been operating, a concern which, happly, has been given some real expression within the current 12 member states of the European Union. Then there are special measures in favour of Nordic agriculture and, indeed, for small farms in Austria, particularly in mountain areas. In the Structural Funds rules, a new objective has been set up to cover the situation in Finland, Norway and Sweden. In other words, a new dimension has been put into the Structural Funds to deal with the situation as it presents itself in those countries.

I mention those things simply to say that even though we are all aware of the difficulties of integrating new member states of this kind and, indeed, the difficulties that we already see inside the European Union, there is still the energy and the imagination to adopt a flexible approach and to find ways of meeting those problems. That should be said in favour of the European Union, particularly at a time when I hope we are beginning to gear ourselves up to another discussion in 1996 on the future development of the Union.

One of the results of the change in the centre of gravity in the European Union following this accession — the northward shift in the centre of gravity — will be that we will look at a very different situation from the security and defence points of view. The inclusion of Norway, Sweden and Finland in particular makes a very great change in the way Western European countries will now look at their external defence. Up to now Sweden has been a neutral country, as has Finland and Austria. They are in very key positions that in previous times were very sensitive. Those of us who have studied these things will remember in particular the gruelling difficulties of communications between the western part of Europe and its allies in Russia during the Second World War.

Having Norway, Sweden and Finland as part of the European Union makes a very big change to that tactical and strategic map of Europe. It means some political changes too. Sweden has been neutral up to now, as have Finland and Austria. I do not wish to give offence to anybody on this but it has been very entertaining to read the literature on neutrality produced by those countries. Some years ago I went to the trouble of having a long discussion with the then Austrian Ambassador here on the way neutrality was viewed in Austria. To my surprise, and bafflement for a while, I was presented with a substantial tome setting out the different doctrines of neutrality. It reminded me of nothing more than some of the arguments of the old scholars of the Catholic Church who would write tomes of reflections and analyses and exegeses of the reasons various positions were taken, most of them designed to pander to the prejudices of the people who were writing the tomes and designed to help them to arrive at a conclusion they wanted to arrive at anyway.

The literature on the different types of neutrality is mind-blowing. The Swedes have a more direct and robust attitude to it. They regard their neutrality as a statement that they do not wish to be involved in any military alliance, but that they want to ensure that they were armed to the point that no military alliance would consider it worth while to take them on. Their view is different from the theological positions adopted by Austria. To their credit the Finns are less wordy about it. They accepted, which the Austrians did not want to do, that they were neutral because that position was forced upon them by a treaty made at the end of the Second World War. I referred to those matters to make the point that we are inevitably nearing another debate in which some ingenious doctrines of neutrality will be spoken about, not least here. I have to say honestly — and the Tánaiste may be surprised to hear this — that I was encouraged by a speech he made some months ago when addressing the Association of European Journalists. He appears to be making a deliberate effort to demythologise the discussion on neutrality and put it on a context more relevant and connected to the real world. I have hopes — I know the Tánaiste would hate to disappoint me on this — that this refreshing approach will be reflected in the White Paper on Foreign Policy which we expect will be published before the end of the year.

It will be published early next year.

I look forward to its publication. It will be an important part of the preparation for the Intergovernmental Conference in 1996 and an important part of our thinking about how we approach questions of enlargement of the European Union.

Another aspect of the matter has become the subject of mythology and spurious theory. That is what is sometimes referred to as a two speed Europe, sometimes as a variable geometry or a variable speed Europe. Those names appear inappropriate for what they attempt to describe. They attempt to describe, without wanting to say so, a type of Europe à la carte, where some countries which consider they can proceed quickly want to go ahead together and let the other countries catch up as and when they may, a case of the devil taking the hindmost. I am deeply suspicious of all doctrines that move in that direction because they are anti-pathetic to the idea of setting up a European Community and now a European Union.

The images of a two speed Europe, or a variable speed Europe, are inappropriate and appear to derive from the idea that if different sized gears are put on a machine, they will allow it to move at different speeds. However, it must be remembered that even if there are variable speeds, there is variable geometry in the transmission. The idea is to allow the same machine to move at different speeds under different conditions of power. The same is true of variable geometry. People think that means that different parts of the European Union can move at different speeds, but that is not what it is for. There is a very concrete application of variable geometry in the design of aircraft. It is designed to allow the whole machine to move at different speeds under different inputs of power and at different altitudes. Neither of them is designed to allow different parts of the same machine to move at different speeds.

I am worried that the idea of different speeds for different parts of the European Union is gaining currency, because it is a necessary result of this that we have, implicitly or explicitly, more and more of the opt outs that are now beginning to plague some parts of European Union activity. If there are opt ins for a core group then, as almost a natural law of physics, there are implicit or explicit opt outs. We have already seen the difficulties resulting from the opt out the United Kingdom got from the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty. I have to say — I know the Tánaiste will not agree with me on this — I have always been deeply suspicious of the over ambitious nature of the Social Chapter. I consider large parts of it are anti-employment; they are not proemployee, although that is what they are presented as being. They are in practice, and in effect, anti-employment. I think it was most unwise of the European Union to go down that road. I would like to see the debate here concentrate more clearly on the realities of what would be involved in these variable geometry, two speed Europe proposals, as they are fundamentally anti-pathetic to the idea of a Community or a Union.

The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs should be congratulated for the report it submitted to us on the enlargement of the European Union. It is regrettable that we do not have the opportunity to have a more complete debate on that report here. The committee has certainly done a very good job for the House. Because we have very little time I will refer to only a few of its recommendations. Recommendation 10.7 deals with the institutional issues raised by further enlargement of the Union. At page 69 of the report, it says: "It therefore recommends that the implications for Irish policy of the evolutionary and federal constitution models be thoroughly examined and debated". I have a preference, developed over a long number of years and a great deal of study, for a federal constitutional model, and I would like the House to pay more attention to what that implies. Deputy Kavanagh referred to the problems he considered would arise in the European Parliament on further enlargement, but I consider much of that debate is misdirected. Because if we are talking about a federal constitutional model, then what we talk about in the European Parliament is not national representation but the representation of federal party groups there. There is already the basis for believing that that is an effective way to go, because in both the Christian Democratic Group and the Socialist Group in the European Parliament we see at least the beginnings of federal party structures. I am sure the Tánaiste will agree that those two groups have indeed been successful in their operations in the European Parliament, and I do not consider the fears expressed about the size of national groups are really all that legitimate in the context of such development. The House should apply itself to consider that area because it will be crucial to our participation in the future development of the European Union.

I want to say a brief word about the prospects of the further enlargement of the European Union to the east. The most we should do about that, in the immediate future and in the context of the Intergovernmental Conference in 1996, is to ensure that the model of development we adopt for the European Union — and I have a preference for the federal constitutional one — should be open to further development. I do not consider it is possible or realistic at this stage to put a timetable on when such further extension of the European Union will take place. That is not something that Governments in Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics and Hungary in particular will like to hear but I do not believe that before the end of this century and probably for some time afterwards, they will be in a position where they can fully involve themselves in the operation of European Union of the kind I have in mind. That is not because they are incapable of it but because their structures, habits, economic and social customs will not have evolved to the point where they can, with safety to themselves and to their political and economic systems, take on the burden of operating in the same way as long-standing western capitalist economies.

The transition is much more than an economic transition. This was illustrated to me a couple of years ago by a Polish Minister when that country was at the beginning of a transition process. He told me and some other colleagues that they had a market which was not a market and they had a currency that was not convertible. He made the very sensible statement that the quicker they changed that position the better. He said they could not do so in stages, that they must do it all at once. It is like deciding to drive on the left hand side of the road instead of the right. To do so in stages and start with the buses would be a recipe for disaster. The change has to be made all at once.

For these countries to make the transition to a parliamentary democracy with a market economy would be an enormous transition in itself without having to work within the context of a European Union which still has not fully defined where it is going. I would caution about considering, in an operational sense, the further extension eastward of the European Union. I welcome the Bill and I apologise to the Tánaiste that I cannot remain to hear his comments. I look forward to the White Paper and the result of his deliberations.

I wish to deal with a couple of matters before I refer to the welcome proposals before me. I am alarmed at the growing use of passports in the European Union. I recently travelled from Paris to London — not at the taxpayers' expense——

Was the Deputy attacked for doing so?

——and on three occasions before I boarded the plane in Paris I was asked to show my passport.

We told them the Deputy was travelling.

The use of passports is a relatively new phenomenon. In the 19th Century there was no such thing as a passport and people travelled freely wherever they wished. In this supposed Union, which we are proposing to extend, a person travelling from Paris to London — less than a three hour train journey by way of the Channel Tunnel — must show a passport three times before boarding a plane. The reason is that air carriers are held responsible under refugee legislation for carrying persons seeking asylum who do not have proper documentation. That law must be changed because it makes a total absurdity of the European Union. We are supposed to be taking away barriers and at the same time we are introducing the use of passports on a large scale within the European Union. A person travelling to the United States is requested to show his passport only once, at Shannon. This is an important principle, that should be considered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I say that as a person who is interested in the development of the European Union and who was director of elections for Fine Gael for the Maastricht Treaty and the Single European Act.

On the question of organised crime, there should be greater co-operation between Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, as is the case between Ministers for Agriculture and Foreign Affairs. Forty thousand tonnes of heroin are exported each year by ten known non-European countries. Much of this heroin makes its way to the European Union and is the source of a great deal of crime on the streets of Ireland. Drug abusers mug, pickpocket, shoplift and burgle to feed their expensive habit. This is the case throughout the European Union.

Drug distribution is organised crime involving some of the nastiest and meanest criminals nationally and internationally. Given this background, the response of the EU is so feeble as to be sinister. Who or what is holding back the EU from taking on these exporters and organisers of death and mayhem on a grand scale? Only one European Minister needs to drag his or her feet to block the efforts of other Ministers. Are sinister forces at work? Has the Council of Justice Ministers been compromised or nobbled? Why is there no plan to persuade the offending countries to mend their ways? It is time a European drugs enforcement agency was established to co-operate with the US Drugs Enforcement Agency in tackling one of the greatest scourges to afflict the international community since World War II. There should be greater European action in this area.

If we continue to enlarge the European Union in the way we have been doing we will soon end up with 17 members. Already the great bear Russia, has asked to be admitted. The socialist Prime Minister of Spain said that the great bear would turn over the boat if he sat on the side. I do not know whether that would happen, but we are nearing a position where we will have world government, certainly government involving a whole segment of the world. The existing structures cannot simply continue to be expanded secula seculorum. It is time consideration was given to the question of sub-regions within the European Union. I hope the White Paper will address this matter. Should there be a west European sub-region and an east European sub-region and what structures are necessary to deal with this development? How would an enlarged Parliament be housed and organised? This is a fundamental question that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

I ask the Tánaiste to ensure that when EU enlargement takes place a small EU member state such as Ireland is vigilant and makes no concessions in terms of constitutional and State voting rights. Ireland should not become part of the second league. I am sorry to use this term but what we have we hold. That is what is demanded by the national interest, not just the Irish national interest but that of all the smaller member states. The Government must prevent any watering down of the rights of smaller member states.

I now turn to the question of neutrality which is defined in the Fifth and Thirteenth Hague Conventions as a neutral country denying access to all belligerent states. Ireland is militarily neutral; it has never been neutral economically in terms of its association with the United States or Europe. I have spent some time researching this subject and it appears that our neutrality is based on partition. In 1949 the late Seán MacBride, who was then Minister for External Affairs, said that we would become full Charter members of NATO the day after partition ended. He was portrayed as the great protector of our neutrality and his was the only reason on record for Ireland adopting this stance. Neutrality is not mentioned in the Constitution although some people seem to think otherwise. Given the developments taking place this week, and the new institutional arrangements North and South, is this not a reason in itself to review our traditional stance on neutrality?

Many people argue that our traditional military neutrality is compromised by our membership of the European Union but that is not the case, rather it has been compromised by our membership of the United Nations. Every Taoiseach, including Seán Lemass, has said that if it was necessary to take on defence responsibilities within the European Union to meet our obligations as a member, then we would embrace those responsibilities. We pay homage to this so-called great principle of neutrality and there is much humbug about our responsibilities within the European Union but it was the United Nations which compromised this State in terms of the strict requirements under the Fifth and Thirteenth Hague Conventions during the Gulf War. This House and State complied fully with its request to be allowed use Shannon Airport and overfly this country in order to bomb Iraq. Therefore, we did not meet the requirement that we deny access to all belligerent states if we consider ourselves to be militarily neutral. It was not the European Union which compromised us but rather the United Nations of which the late Seán MacBride was a former Assistant General Secretary. Yet, those people who take shots at anyone who dares to raise this question pay homage to the United Nations.

It is time we had a healthy debate on this issue and those who question our policy of neutrality should not be dismissed as militarists. What is wrong with our society that we are not capable of debating in a civilised way important issues of State? There are few more important issues than defence and security?

Some argue that we should be aligned to the neutral and non-aligned group but this was not the case at the CSCE where the European Political Co-operation group spoke on our behalf and did not do such a bad job. Some members of the neutral and non-aligned group are among the largest manufacturers and exporters of armaments of destruction. Therefore, no comparison can be drawn between neutrality and passivism. I would not like Ireland to pursue the record of some of these so-called neutral states.

Finland and Austria have different reasons for being neutral; this was forced upon them as part of the post Second World War settlement. They do not appear to have any difficulty addressing the question of neutrality. The neutral club within the European Union will become larger and this question will become a live issue in 1996 when we will hold the EU Presidency. This means that not only will we have to address the issue but we will be in the driving seat when it is raised. It is time we stopped fudging the issue and misleading the public and took our responsibilities seriously. If in the future the European Union should become the target of a belligerent state will we expect Belgium and Dutch troops to defend it? Why should the mothers of Dutch and Belgian soldiers be expected to send their children to defend us when we are net beneficiaries?

Who in God's name is proud of our record of sitting on the fence when six million Jews were sent to the gas chambers? It is time we spoke the truth and stopped playing on people's emotions. We should debate the principles on which people take a stand either for or against neutrality. If our membership of the European Union requires us to depart from our traditional policy of military neutrality, I do not see any reason we should not take on defence responsibilities given that we are on the inside and will have an opportunity to specify the circumstances in which this would happen. If we do not prepare for this eventuality, it will be forced upon us behind closed doors. Already, we have sent observers to the Western European Union. I am not in favour of doing anything by stealth or fudging the issue; rather I am in favour of having an informed and proper debate and bringing the people with us. We should be able to do this without engaging in party political nonsense. There is a variety of views on this issue.

I wish to raise the question of employment. The employment system in almost every member state of the European Union is completely out-of-date. The accession of the Scandinavian countries will be welcomed as they will be net contributors but Poland and the Czech Republic will be admitted soon and they will be net beneficiaries. Each year in the European Union five million people leave secondary schools without qualifications. In Ireland we have made great improvements in this area: in 1993 6.3 per cent left school without qualifications but we have set a target of zero for 1999; in 1993 16.4 per cent held the junior certificate on leaving school but the objective for 1999 is 10 per cent; 77.4 per cent of school leavers passed the leaving certificate in 1993 and the objective for 1999 is 90 per cent. That will be a great improvement because the more educated have better job prospects. However, 1.6 per cent of GDP in the European Union is spent on unemployment assistance. There is no point in educating people unless there are jobs for them. As the Minister for Enterprise and Employment said, the way we organise jobs needs to be looked at. Depending on how one looks at the figures, between 30 and 40 per cent of European Union GDP goes on health and pensions expenditure. How do we hope to continue to fund unemployment assistance at the rate of 1.6 per cent of GDP and health and pensions at between 30 and 40 per cent of GDP when only 60 per cent of the population is at work compared with 70 per cent in the US and 75 per cent in Japan? During the process of enlargement, the European Union should address this matter because it is the central issue for young people leaving school with improved qualifications. Why are only 60 per cent of those available for work employed compared with 70 per cent of those in the US and 75 per cent of those in Japan? If that is the case how can we expect to continue to fund unemployment assistance and health and pension benefits? That question needs to be addressed now.

I welcome the proposal to enlarge the European Union. We cannot presume that having benefited from membership we can pull up the ladder, particularly for countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic who will benefit from membership. To extend the benefit of membership to them we need to bring in new, rich members from Scandinavia and we welcome their membership. We must provide structures to manage this growing political entity and in doing so ensure that nothing is done to water down the voting rights of small nations, particularly Ireland's voting rights — a proposal for first and second league members of the Council of Ministers and the Commission is being discussed. I support the accession of these countries to the European Union.

I welcome the opportunity to speak but I will be brief and confine myself to an area that has received little attention. The major political and economic issues have been addressed by many speakers and, to a lesser degree, social affairs, and the accession of the Scandinavian countries will provide a valuable input to debates on these issues.

During the recess I attended a conference on European culture and I will dwell on the insights I gained from it. While it is very encouraging to see countries wishing to join the European Union, we must remember that when we were debating its enlargement in the past year it was touch and go whether this legislation would be passed. One of the critical issues for many countries is their sense of identity and countries are very anxious to protect their individual identity. We have to allay fears of a loss of identity so that people will feel that in benefiting from being part of a larger group they do not lose things that are very valuable to them — for which we know minorities will fight and for which some people will give their lives. We have seen this in our own country as well as throughout Europe. If these issues are addressed, Europe could be a finer and a richer place.

A great many people fear that membership of the European Communities means homogenisation. Already, we suffer from American influences on television. An element of that is inevitable and part of world cultural development but in every country in Europe there is a commitment to those elements of its culture that make it distinctive. In Ireland, for example, there is an interest in our language and culture — Gaelscoileanna are springing up all over the place. I visited one in Cork city this week — out of Dáil sitting time I am glad to say——

It is not an offence.

——and there is one in my constituency in Ballymun. There are difficulties but I hope they will be resolved. It is important, when people think about Europe, that they do not think about homogeneity and loss of identity but of diversity and richness. It is not sufficient only to state that because it has implications for how we spend resources, on education for example. In parts of Europe in particular minority dialects are banned, one must be educated in the majority dialect and the dominant culture is supported. While that might not be a passionate issue in a country where it is not an issue it could become a live issue if we feel that our culture is under threat. Europe has a very rich and diverse culture, drawing its strengths from Scandinavian, Celtic, Germanic, Judeo-Christian and something that is little acknowledged, Islamic influence, moving up through Spain and which becomes increasingly relevant as Europe takes in the countries to the East. In the context of debates at European level, I ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs to encourage an interpretation of European culture which does not aim to move towards homogeneity but is based on respect and support, financial and in every other sense, for cultural diversity.

In drawing from the richness of cultural diversity and making that clear when decisions are made on emblems, flags and other matters, we can allay many of the fears that make people drag their feet on the issue of integration. It is important that this issue gets air time. Looking at history one realises that the couple of hundred years when the countries of Europe were separated by narrow nationalism is much shorter than the many centuries they were part of the Holy Roman Empire and part of the same cultural and economic unit. In benefiting from the richness of our diversity and by putting culture higher on the agenda in Europe we can allay the fears of many states and ensure a richer and more integrated Europe.

I thank all the Deputies who contributed to the Second Stage debate on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1994. The debate has been useful and worthwhile. It is important that every Member of this House not only takes an interest in developments in the European Union but seeks to participate in evolving policy in this House and on behalf of the Government. The debate was worth while because it allowed the House to focus on one of the major themes that will dominate the European Union agenda for many years to come and it was useful because it allowed many of the issues to be debated. Many of them were not aired for the first time and indeed they have not been debated for the last time because we will have to debate many of the issues for the foreseeable future as Europe evolves and expands and as changes take place within the European Union.

I am encouraged by the constructive nature of the debate. The current round of enlargement to include Austria, Sweden, Finland and Norway posed few major challenges and opened up a range of opportunities. This was reflected in the debate over the past few days.

Future enlargements will pose major additional challenges. Deputies Owen and Deasy, in their wide-ranging speeches, referred to many of these challenges. Speakers, while acknowledging these challenges, demonstrated openness in facing them and a willingness to seek out the opportunities that will become available. This is to be welcomed. It is to be welcomed also that the imperative of enlargement for both political and economic reasons has been acknowledged.

I have no doubt that part of the reason for the constructive approach to the issue of enlargement of the European Union, which was evident in the debate, has been the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs report on enlargement of the European Union published at the end of last month. I commend the committee on the publication of that substantial report. It is clear that significant effort and thought was put into preparing it. It is clear also that that effort and thought was reflected in the contributions made during this debate. We can all agree in this House that the establishment of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs is proving to be successful and worth while.

Deputy Gilmore expressed some concerns about the Social Chapter. Lest there be any confusion, I assure the House that with the exception of Austria, which secured a temporary derogation on one issue due to an International Labour Organisation commitment, the accession countries have accepted in full all the social legislation of the European Union as well as the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty relating to social policy.

There is no doubt that enlargement of the European Union, to the east and to the south, will be one of the major issues the Union will have to address in the coming years.

The Government very much welcomes the prospect of the accession to the European Union of Austria, Sweden, Finland and Norway. These are countries which have long been friendly neighbours to us in Ireland and with which we have a similarity of interests on a range of issues. For example, like Ireland, all four countries have participated actively in United Nations peacekeeping operations for many years.

During the course of the enlargement negotiations it became clear that with the European Union we will have many common interests and aims. These will range from agriculture and regional policy to concerns to ensure that the evolving European Union meets the needs of its citizens well into the 21st century.

As has been pointed out in this debate we are at the start of a process that may take the European Union from 12 to more than 20 members in due course. These developments will have profound implications for the European Union and for each of its member states.

I would like to concentrate on the future of the European Union in light of developments in the years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Following the emergence of the new democracies in eastern Europe the European Union accepted a particular and historic reponsibility.

The European Union, in the process of strengthening its own internal coherence through the Treaty on European Union, was accurately seen as an anchor of stability by the newly emerging democracies in the east facing the challenge of profound economic and political transformation. The European Union's response to developments in the countries of central and eastern Europe was at once imaginative and encouraging, generous but realistic. Negotiations on association agreements were begun between the European Union and the central and eastern European countries. These agreements provide the basic framework of the European Union's relations with the countries of central and eastern Europe and their scope is indeed wide-ranging — covering trade, political dialogue, cultural relations and economic co-operation.

By the end of 1994, Europe Agreements will be in force with six countries: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania. Before long, Slovenia and, in due course, the Baltic States, will also be associated with the European Union in a similar manner.

The peoples of central and eastern Europe are succeeding in establishing parliamentary democracies and are committed to a path of economic growth based on the market economy. It is not surprising, therefore, that in April, just after the completion of the enlargement negotiations with the four EFTA countries, Poland and Hungary formally presented applications for membership of the European Union. Others may shortly follow suit.

The countries of central and eastern Europe believe that a clear prospect of accession to the European Union will help them to push further and faster in developing their economies and to underpin their commitment to democratic institutions and reform. I might stress that human rights and the rule of law are fundamental pre-requisites for membership of the European Union. The countries of central and eastern Europe also believe that membership of the European Union will be the best basis on which to develop mutually beneficial relationships with Russia, Ukraine and the other states of the former Soviet Union.

The European Council meeting in Copenhagen in June 1993 decided that the associated countries of central and eastern Europe that so desire shall become members of the European Union. Accession will take place as soon as an associated country is able to assume the obligations of membership by satisfying the economic and political conditions required.

These conditions include stable and democratic institutions, respect for the rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union. Future European Union membership is also linked to candidates' ability to take on the aims of political, economic and monetary union.

In the medium and longer term, membership of the European Union is seen by the countries of central and eastern Europe as the means of influencing developments, enabling them to safeguard their identity and exercising a reasonable influence over their external environment.

The position adopted at the European Council in Copenhagen was reaffirmed by the Corfu European Council last June. The Corfu European Council also decided that the 1996 intergovernmental conference should take place before accession negotiations for the countries of central and eastern Europe begin. The Council invited the Commission to bring forward a specific pre-accession strategy in the case of the countries of central and eastern Europe. This is currently being discussed and developed in the Council prior to presentation of the Heads of State and Government for approval at the European Council in Essen next December.

Key elements likely to be included in this pre-accession strategy for the countries of central and eastern Europe are the creation of a framework for deepening the relationship with the European Union; help and encouragement to align legal and regulatory structures with those of the European Union in order, inter alia, to pave the way for participation in the Single Market; active encouragement of closer regional co-operation between the countries themselves; and enhanced EU-CEE co-operation in key sectors such as transport, energy and the environment.

The accession next year of Finland and Austria together with, hopefully, Sweden and Norway — all prosperous and developed countries with relatively small populations — requires no fundamental changes to the working of the institutions, policies and budget of the European Union.

As recognised in our debate, further enlargements will be more complex. We will need to look at ways of preserving the character of the European Union when there are 20 or more members, many of whom as of now are much less prosperous than the current member states.

How can we have efficient institutions which also give due influence to the member states, including small member states? How can we ensure continued economic and social cohesion? I assure Deputies that work is already under way in addressing these and other complex and vital issues. Some of the complexities were raised in the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs but, as it points out, there are opportunities as well as challenges. Opportunities will arise as the single market is increased from 350 million people to between 400 and 500 million European citizens. Ireland has been successful so far in increasing exports in manufactures and foodstuffs to the associated countries in Eastern Europe. We are also heavily involved in the service sector and through consultancies. We can and must continue to grasp these and other opportunities.

At this stage it is extremely difficult to accurately assess the financial impact membership of the CEEs would have on the Union and on Ireland. It will depend, for example, on the scale of transfers envisaged under the Structural Funds, the future direction of CAP, the size of the EU budget after 1999 as a percentage of the EU's GNP, as well as future growth in the economies of the acceding countries.

Deputy Dukes raised many issues which will be addressed in the White Paper it is hoped to publish early next year. Consultations are commencing on contributions from the public. That was generally welcomed by the House and I hope Deputies who take an interest in foreign policy will also take an interest in the preparation of the White Paper to make it as inclusive as possible.

Deputy Mitchell raised the obvious and worrying aspect of drugs and their availability within the EU. I assure him that this issue is high not only on the Interior Justice Minister's agenda but on the agenda of the European Council. Chancellor Köhl expressed his concern at the difficulties facing all member states in the battle against drugs and associated crime. Deputy Mitchell said that some member states were not carrying their responsibilities to the full but I can assure him that as far as we are concerned everything possible that needs to be done will be done to protect the peoples of Europe from the scourge of drugs and drug abuse.

We have, as a priority in the debate taking place in the EU, the concerns expressed by a number of Deputies regarding the position of small states. Deputy Flaherty raised the question of culture. I do not detect any attempt to seek to devalue the diversity of culture within Europe. It is quite the opposite. There is a strong movement within each of the member states to preserve the obvious diversity of our cultures. There is strength in diversity throughout the EU. To assist in bringing democracy, prosperity and peace to post-Communist societies in Europe is a profound political project of the first magnitude. It is in the clear long term political, economic and cultural interests of Europe and her peoples to do so. To face our responsibilities and prepare for enlargement will release creative energies that will help us to deal with and put in their proper perspective the range of other issues which the EU must deal with over the next decade.

Question put and agreed to.