I dealt with the matter of a national forum in my reply to a question from Deputy Michael Ahern on 19 October. On that occasion, I stated that it would be premature to publish a policy paper on Ireland's approach to Economic and Monetary Union or set up a national forum on the issue. This is still the position.
I also said that practical planning for Economic and Monetary Union is continuing at both EU and national level. The main focus of our attention remains on the work at EU level. Following the Cannes European Council meeting in June, two working groups were established at EU level under the auspices of the Monetary Committee to further practical preparations for the single currency. These groups met on a number of occasions and Ireland was fully represented. On 14 November 1995 the European Monetary Institute, of which the Central Bank of Ireland is a member, published a document dealing with the changeover to the single currency. All this work is providing a key input to the draft reference scenario or plan of action which was considered by the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers last Monday and will be considered by the Heads of State and Government at their meeting next month in Madrid.
I also said that I will be developing our process of consultation further after the reference scenario is agreed. I can assure the House once again that timely and wide-ranging consultation will take place with the relevant interests on the practicalities of the changeover to the single currency, which is obviously a matter of vital public importance.
On 22 November the European Monetary Institute published a report on progress towards convergence in member states of the European Union in accordance with Article 7 of its statute.