That Seanad Éireann takes note of developments in the EEC during 1983.
Vol. 103 No. 4
That Seanad Éireann takes note of developments in the EEC during 1983.
The past year, I believe, marked the end of a particular era in the history of the European Community. It should also have seen the beginning of a new growth, a new relevance, a new responsiveness. Unfortunately, events did not happen in this way.
The background is well known. The Community has been staggering from one crisis to another for some four years now. Its financial resources have been progressively coming closer to their legal limit. Last year, a number of payments had in fact to be deferred to avoid this limit being breached. The absence of adequate financial resources meant in addition that, in recent years, there has been little or no policy development within the Community. We are in effect still trying to respond to the changing problems and challenges of the eighties with instruments and policies drawn up in an earlier era. The Community — temporarily I believe — lost its way over the past four years. It was no longer seen to have the same cohesiveness, the same sense of solidarity or the same capacity to respond effectively to problems as in the past. This, in turn, created a serious credibility gap for the EEC in all members countries.
The essence of the problem is that no Community can develop, can even function effectively, unless it has adequate resources at its disposal. The Government, in the on-going negotiations within the Community, has focussed with particular emphasis on this point. But — and this is something overlooked in Ireland — the putting in place of new financial resources requires the unanimous consent of all member states and national parliamentary ratification. A number of member states have set specific preconditions which, they insist, must be met before they will give their consent to a new financing system. These preconditions concern in particular the need to adapt the Community's Common Agricultural Policy.
The Government believe that the CAP has served, and is serving, the Community extremely well. Its principles are as valid and relevant today as the day they were drafted. There can be no question of tinkering with them. That is not to say, however, that the CAP, indeed as is the case with any policy, does not need to be reviewed, and adapted to changing circumstances, from time to time. The present situation, for instance, when the Community consumption of milk and milk products is estimated at something over 80 million tonnes, while production last year stood at some 103 million tonnes, clearly creates stresses and distortions. We accept, therefore, as any realistic, objective person would, that imbalances of this kind, springing from a structural surpluses situation, have to be put right.
Within this overall context, the Government's firm emphasis throughout the negotiations has been to ensure that a solution to any Community problem must take into account the legitimate interests of the various member states. A mechanism designed to respond to a particular problem, does not, in my view, constitute a solution if it imposes a disproportionate burden on any one member state. The proposed super-levy on milk production, if applied to this country, would constitute such a disproportionate burden. As such, it is not acceptable to the Government.
Senators will be aware that the Government have presented, in an objective and fully documented manner, our case for an exemption from the super-levy. We have indeed been pursuing one of the most intense and continuous diplomatic campaigns on this issue which has ever been carried out by the State. The Taoiseach late last year, undertook, accompanied on many occasions by myself, a programme of meetings with the leaders of the nine other member states. The Minister for Finance, the Minister for Agriculture and myself have taken every possible opportunity to present our case to our opposite numbers. Last July, I called home our ambassadors in Community countries for a special conference in which I outlined for them the details of our negotiating strategy and the central role I envisaged for them within it. Their lobbying for, and presentation of, our case, as well as their detailed analyses of the policy positions and movements of other member states, have been an invaluable help in these negotiations.
Our position on the super-levy going into the Brussels European Council on 19 March remains as it was at the Athens Council. Our demand, which we believe is reasonable, fair and historically and statistically justifiable, is for an exemption for the four year duration of the levy. I would emphasise that our case is not a sectoral one. Milk in Ireland is responsible, uniquely within the Community, for some 9 per cent of GNP. Our case, therefore, falls clearly into the category of a vital overall national economic interest. It is in this context that it is, and will continue to be, pursued by the Government.
I should say finally that, while there is still an unprecedently tough and sensitive negotiating period in front of us, our partners have shown considerable understanding of, and appreciation for, the particular circumstances of our case. This was indeed reflected to some degree in the final offer made to us at Athens, even though this only went a certain way to meet our needs. The task now is to turn this general understanding and goodwill into a concrete solution for Ireland at the Brussels Summit. I know that the Government have the full support of this House in pursuing this objective.
I have dealt briefly above with two of the central elements of the current negotiations, new own resources and the adaptation of the CAP in the milk area. But the negotiations are, of course, much wider than this. The Stuttgart European Council in June 1983, which launched this stage of the negotiations, spoke of providing "a solid basis for the further dynamic development of the Community over the remainder of the present decade", with a view to achieving the relaunch of the Community. Brave sentiments indeed, and ones we would all agree with; but sentiments which will remain just that unless we can reach agreement in the very near future on not just milk but on the many distortions within the common agricultural policy including, and in particular, the existence of MCAs and the continuing high level of cheap cereal substitute imports into the Community.
We need in particular, as I indicated earlier, to give the Community the financial security to plan ahead, to develop and, at the lowest end of the scale, to avoid the recurring fear of running out of funds for even its on-going policies. In this regard, I welcome the Commission's recent proposal to double the present VAT ceiling of 1 per cent. We need also, and I will come to this in a moment, to develop further our structural funds and to begin to put new and imaginative policies in place.
We require above all in Europe today, however, to have the courage to take a giant qualitative step forward. We are all depressed, and understandably so, at endless discussions on issues such as budgetary imbalances and budgetary discipline. The Community needs to think beyond its present crisis, to have again a sense of creativity and innovation, to put it at its simplest, to be relevant and responsive once more to the needs of its peoples, especially the young and unemployed. In the context in which it was established, the Community was — and remains — a remarkable achievement. But achievements, however far-reaching, must be built on and not rested upon. This is the challenge we must take up and overcome later this month in Brussels.
The immense importance to Ireland of the Common Agricultural Policy and the related issue of future Community financing is clear. For this reason public and media attention has naturally concentrated on these aspects of the post-Stuttgart discussions. Other aspects, which are equally central to any successful "new departure" for the Community, have not received the same degree of public attention. I am thinking, for instance, of the important ongoing work on a range of possible new Community policies designed to improve the Community's industrial competitiveness, particularly in the new high technology sectors. We must successfully match our competitors in these vital growth areas of modern economies, like research and development biotechnology and telecommunications, if we are to create new job opportunities in the Community for the future. We are pleased, therefore, that it has been possible to reach agreement on the ESPRIT information technology programme, and we will give our support to the development of other new policies which can help to create jobs and provide a more balanced development of the Community in all areas of economic activity.
Naturally, together with other smaller member states, we are concerned that the benefits of new policies should also be available to small and medium-sized firms which make up a large part of our own economy and are also important in the economies of the larger states.
The Community's structural funds, the Regional Fund, Social Fund and the Agricultural Fund, are important instruments for helping the future development of the Community and of its member states. A review of the Social Fund was successfully completed in June 1983. One important result of this is that 75 per cent of Social Fund resources are now allocated for programmes for young people under 25, a measure that we, with our large numbers of young people in the work force, were happy to support. We are also pleased that Ireland has been designated one of a number of superpriority regions on which 40 per cent of Social Fund expenditure will now be concentrated.
A review of the Regional Fund is being undertaken at present and we are carefully considering the implications of this review for Ireland. The Commission proposals are quite complex and would, if implemented, result in the abolition of the distinction between the quota and non-quota sections of the fund. It seems likely that the review will take several more months of detailed consideration before it will be completed.
In my introductory remarks, I mentioned the intense debate on the Common Agricultural Policy which has taken place, in the special negotiations, since the Stuttgart European Council in June 1983. In addition to this, Senators are of course aware of the detailed discussions which are presently taking place regarding the agricultural prices for the marketing year 1984-85. It would, I feel, be appropriate, therefore, to refer briefly to the main features of the agricultural prices agreement for the marketing year which is now drawing to a conclusion, and to other important developments for Ireland in 1984 resulting from the CAP.
The Commission's price proposals for agricultural products were presented to the Council on 23 December 1982, though most of the substantial discussions took place early in 1983, the year which we are presently reviewing. While these discussions were difficult, agreement was eventually reached by the Council of Agricultural Ministers on 16-17 May 1983. This provided for price increases across virtually the whole range of products of particular interest to Ireland, giving an average increase of 9½ per cent, including and, eventually, a total adjustment of the "green rate" for the Irish pound of 5 per cent. In addition, and in spite of some opposition during negotiations, both the calf and suckler cow premiums were extended. The annual value of these premiums comes to some £47 million.
While below the average level of price increase, that secured for milk nevertheless represented an extra 6.3 p per gallon for the dairying industry. Increased FEOGA financing was obtained both for school milk and the consumer subsidy on butter which, in a full year, will benefit this country by some £2½ million. The price increases obtained for the 1983-84 marketing year will result in approximately £190 million extra for the Irish farm sector. Given the stringency of the circumstances in which they were negotiated, this result was very satisfactory.
The difficult negotiations which followed the Commission's agricultural price proposals last year provided the Government with the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the agricultural sector and our determination to ensure the continued development of the industry. This is the same commitment which guided the Government in the course of the critical debate on the adaptation of the Common Agricultural Policy in the period between the Stuttgart and Athens European Councils, and since. This is the same commitment which makes the Commission's price proposals for the marketing year 1984-85 difficult for the Government to accept, even though we are all aware of the financial crisis within the Community.
In response to this critical situation the Commission implemented a number of economy measures in the course of 1983. In the agricultural sector, the most important of these involved the suspension of the system of advance payments of export refunds and a delay in payment of the live premium on sheepmeat until the beginning of 1984.
As Senators are, of course, aware, further economy measures were introduced by the Commission earlier this year. These were designed to achieve savings in the day-to-day operation of the CAP. The measures in question ranged from a 1 per cent cut in the standard interest rate payable for intervention to a four month deferral of payments for intervention purchases in the milk, beef and cereal sectors.
With regard to the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, payments to Ireland in 1983 under the guarantee section — which exists to support market prices — amounted to £441 million, as compared to £345 million in 1982. Payments under the guidance section of this Fund — in respect of various structural projects — totalled £62 million in 1983, an increase of £3 million over the 1982 figure.
The year under review, 1983, was a particularly active one in the fisheries area. Following the intensive efforts which had been made at the end of 1982 to achieve a common fisheries policy, a compromise was eventually found in the first weeks of 1983. However serious difficulties arose over the settling of the levels of the total allowable catches and member states quotas for 1984. Eleven months of difficult and intensive negotiations, from January 1983, were necessary to secure, on 14 December 1983, the agreement in Council on the 1983 total allowable catches and individual member states' quotas for 1983. Agreement was also reached in December 1983 on the difficult issue of North Sea herring, quotas in Greenland waters and on the EEC Norway and EEC-Canada Fishery Agreements.
The progress achieved at the December 1983 Fisheries Council raised hopes that agreement might be secured early in 1984 on the total allowable catches and quotas for this year. While I appreciate that we are, today, reviewing 1983 only, I feel that I should touch briefly on the outcome of the Fisheries Council of 31 January 1984. In particular the early agreement achieved at that Council on catches and quotas puts, I feel, the common fisheries policy on a more assured basis and removes doubts and uncertainties from Community fishermen. Nationally we were particularly pleased by the outcome of the Council as we secured, inter alia, an increase of 5,300 tonnes of western stock mackerel over our 1983 quota and an undertaking for an investigation of, and proposals to remedy, the market situation in herring.
I should also like to congratulate, in this regard, my colleague Deputy Paddy O'Toole, the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, for his efforts in defending Irish interests in the course of the negotiations on the 1983 and 1984 catches and quotas.
In the period under review the outlook for the Community in terms of the economic and institutional problems which had to be faced may appear to have been uniformly gloomy. However, on a number of fronts there were positive developments. The continued interest in European Union was demonstrated by two developments — the signing of the Solemn Declaration on European Union at Stuttgart on 19 June 1983 and the progress through the European Parliament of the draft Treaty on European Union.
The Solemn Declaration which was the result of an initiative taken by Foreign Minister Genscher of the Federal Republic of Germany and Foreign Minister Colombo of Italy reflects the view of successive Irish Governments that closer political integration must be based on greater economic convergence. The objective of the declaration is to advance European Union. It outlines the steps which should be taken by the Community towards that end in the field of overall economic strategy and regional and social policy. The text also sets out ways and means of improving the system of European Political Co-operation. The adoption of the Solemn Declaration was a reaffirmation of the ideals which inspired the founders of the Communities and by signing at Stuttgart the Taoiseach and myself as Minister for Foreign Affairs joined in that reaffirmation.
The European Parliament's proposed new Treaty on European Union was adopted in a preliminary form in September 1983. The final text of the draft treaty was adopted by the Parliament in February of this year. The text of an accompanying resolution instructs the President of the Parliament to submit the draft treaty to the parliaments and governments of member states. This important initiative by the Parliament provides us with a suggested model for the development of the European Union. It will not doubt be the subject of wide-ranging discussion in the coming months leading up to the elections to the European Parliament, as well as in the longer term. These elections will take place in Ireland, as the House is aware, on Thursday, 14 June and throughout all member states from 14-17 June.
Ireland has frequently stated its political commitment to the enlargement of the Community. We believe that the accession of Spain and Portugal will strengthen the Community at a time when Europe has an increasingly important contribution to make to diminishing international tension. We welcome the prospect of enlargement because we think it will give new impetus to a Community too often seen as being beleaguered by internal difficulties. While we should not ignore the reality and gravity of these problems, we should not be overwhelmed by them. Although the prospect of enlargement makes the need for their solution — and in particular, an increase in the EEC's own resources — more pressing, it also offers hope for the future. For enlargement will prove that the Community is capable of progress and development; and it will provide an opportunity for member states to renew their commitment to the fundamental political and economic aims of the EEC.
We are therefore pleased to note the progress in the accession negotiations with both Spain and Portugal in 1983. Substantial agreement has been reached, in the negotiations with Portugal, on the approximation of laws, environment and consumer protection; while, in the case of Spain, the negotiations on Ceuta and Melilla, tobacco monopolies and Euratom have been substantially concluded, and a number of aspects of the external relations dossier have been settled. We feel that it is imperative to build on this achievement, so that further progress can be made on the outstanding chapters — which include such important issues as agriculture, fisheries and social affairs — with a view to concluding the negotiations by the end of September this year, in accordance with the growing political commitment to that date among the member states.
On 3 February 1983, the Commission presented its opinion on the future status of Greenland, which formed the basis of subsequent negotiations on the question of the terms that should govern Greenland's withdrawal from the Community. These negotiations were concluded successfully at the Foreign Affairs Council last month when agreement was reached on Greenland's future relations with the Community. Under this agreement, Greenland will be associated with the Community as an Overseas Country and Territory (OCT) which will entitle it to certain preferential access to Community markets but, unlike other countries with this status, it will not receive aid from the European Development Fund. Community trawlers will continue to have access to Greenland's waters and Greenland will be granted free access to Community markets for its fisheries products. Greenland will also receive 26.5 million ECUs in respect of the EEC's fishing rights in its waters, and has given assurances that it will abide by the terms of the North Atlantic Salmon Convention, which provides for the conservation of salmon stocks.
Ireland has frequently expressed its support for the measures proposed by the Commission — both in its report of March 1983 and in its subsequent amplifications — in response to the Greek Government's memorandum of 19 March 1982 seeking special terms from the Community. These proposals cover agricultural development, infrastructure and environment. Ireland's support for Greece on this issue is inspired by our belief that the eradication of underdevelopment and the promotion of convergence of member states' economies are aims which are fundamental to the Community. We look forward to registering further progress on this issue in the near future.
Turning to the Community's external relations, the period under review has seen a continuation of the international recession which has placed some strains on the world trading system. Ireland, as a small open economy benefited from the Community and its major trading partners in general, refraining from a protectionist response to these strains. During 1983 much work was devoted to following up the decisions reached at the GATT Ministerial in November 1982 including the establishment of a new GATT Committee on Agriculture, the work of which will, of course, be of considerable importance to Ireland because of its implications for the future operation of the CAP.
This is not to suggest that no difficulties were experienced during the period. The Seanad will remember that in January 1983 the United States concluded a contract for a subsidised sale of 1 million tonnes of wheat flour to Egypt and at the end of July it also announced the subsidised sale of 24,000 tonnes of dairy products to Egypt. The Community views these sales as infringing GATT rules and has been using GATT channels to make its dissatisfaction felt and to seek redress. The Government will continue to seek to ensure that the Community's right to a fair share of the world market in agricultural produce, which was reaffirmed in the Tokyo Round negotiations, is maintained.
Another problem has arisen in relation to Community exports of special steels to the United States. Again, the Seanad will recall that in July 1983 the United States decided unilaterally to increase tariffs and impose quantitative restrictions on its imports of special steel products. The Community argued that the United States measures were not compatible with the commitments made at the Williamsburg Summit on 28-31 May 1983 to resist protectionism and requested prompt consultations in the framework of the GATT, to define the injury suffered by the EEC and to request compensation. The negotiations, however, did not bear fruit, with the result that the Community has notified the GATT of a series of retaliatory measures against certain products imported from the United States. The measures entered into force on 1 March 1984 and will apply for one year.
The decline in the Community's balance of trade with Japan was also a matter of serious concern in this period and relations with Japan continue to be dominated by the Community's unacceptable large trade deficit. It will be appreciated that for those member states which manufacture motor cars, television sets and goods which are in direct competition with Japanese goods, this remains a sensitive matter. The Community has been pursuing a two-track policy: on the one hand, to limit exports from Japan of certain sensitive products and, on the other, to encourage the Japanese to open their market to Community exports. I am happy to report that progress has been made on both these fronts during the period under review. In January 1983, the Japanese announced a series of measures aimed at removing certain non-tariff barriers to imported goods and in February agreed to restrain exports of certain sensitive products, and a further package of market liberalisation measures was announced in October last. Although much remains to be done to correct the trade imbalance I am nevertheless encouraged by the steps which the Japanese Government have taken in this respect. Japan has shown growing understanding of the concern with which their trade surplus is viewed by the Community and I am encouraged that this augurs well for future trade relations between the Community and Japan.
Relations between the EEC and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) continued to expand in 1983 and the fourth Ministerial meeting between the EEC and ASEAN took place in Bangkok on 24-25 March 1983. The Minister of State, Deputy Jim O'Keeffe, represented Ireland at the meeting. In discussions on the economic and financial situation of the world, the Community and ASEAN agreed that the present difficulties demonstrated the economic interdependence which existed among all members of the international community. The two sides reiterated and stressed the need to maintain liberal and open trading conditions and recognised the dangers of recourse to protectionism. The Ministers welcomed the continued development of co-operation between ASEAN and the Community under the Co-operation Agreement as reflected in the rapid expansion and diversification of activities. A particular importance was attached to co-operation in the fields of science and technology, insurance, trade promotion, training and development co-operation. I am convinced that these activities have brought about a new momentum in relations between the Community and ASEAN.
A co-operation agreement between the EEC and the member countries of the Andean Pact — Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela — was signed in Cartagena, Colombia, on 17 December 1983. Ireland was also represented at this ceremony by the Minister of State, Deputy Jim O'Keeffe. The agreement provides a new framework for co-operation between the Community and the Andean Pact countries. It will facilitate the development of trade, industrial co-operation and technology transfers and will allow for better coordination of EEC financed actions in the Andean Pact countries under the non-associated developing countries programme. The agreement also provides for the establishment of a joint co-operation committee which will meet annually to review progress and facilitate the implementation of the agreement.
The period under review also saw the opening of negotiations for a third convention to govern relations between the Community and the developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP countries). The Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) at its meeting on 19 September 1983 adopted the Community's opening mandate for the negotiations. The mandate aims to give a new impetus to relations between the Community and the ACP states in the convention which is to follow the Lomé I and Lomé II Conventions. It also states that the new convention should seek to provide for more self-reliant and self-sustained development of the economies of the ACP states with special attention being paid to the least developed countries and the poorest sections of the population. Agricultural and rural development and efforts towards food security are priority areas. The Community also proposes to initiate a dialogue with the ACP countries on their development policies in order to increase the effectiveness of the various sectoral policies. The mandate also expresses the desire of the Community to consider the issue of human rights in the negotiations. The opening meeting in the negotiations for a new EEC-ACP Convention took place in Luxembourg on 6-7 October 1983. The ACP side set out their basic principles at this meeting.
These include a desire for mutual respect for the sovereignty of contracting parties, true equality of partnership and respect for overall development strategies and priorities. They are also seeking joint management, joint control and joint decision-making in all the key areas of co-operation. The ACP states are also aiming to ensure "congruency", or balance, between the objectives the convention seeks to achieve and the volume of resources it actually provides.
Negotiations are continuing with both sides elaborating their positions and signature of the new convention is expected to take place during the Irish Presidency in the latter half of this year.
During 1983 a broad range of issues was discussed in the development co-operation framework, and progress was made in a number of areas.
In regard to hunger in the world, the programme endeavours to combat the problem of food shortages in developing countries. In addition to the provision of food aid, it also works to increase agricultural production in developing countries. This integrated approach hopes to avoid the pitfalls of dependence which may arise from the provision of food aid alone, which in many cases can be seen to act as a disincentive to domestic productivity. During this period the Council reviewed progress in the Community's food strategy discussions with Kenya, Mali, Rwanda and Zambia where progress was thought to be generally satisfactory.
The Council — in July — also gave approval to the implementation of the Special Programme to Combat Hunger in the World, for which 50 million ECU had been provided in the 1983 budget. The Management Committee of the Special Programme which met at the end of 1983, approved the projects for funding under the special programme.
Ireland welcomed the publication in March of a Commission paper entitled "Food Aid for Development" which was forwarded to the Council by Commissioner Pisani. This paper situated food aid in the context of the problem of world hunger and concluded that existing instruments should be adapted to meet the needs of the developing countries more effectively. A discussion of the Commission paper was held in the Council in November and a resolution was approved on food aid policy, aimed at giving a greater degree of flexibility to the aid, and at improving the food security of the beneficiary countries.
Ireland regretted that the Common Fund — which has been open for signature at the UN Headquarters in New York since October 1980 — did not enter into force during this period. The conditions for entry into force of the Common Fund still remained to be fulfilled at the end of December 1983, when it had been signed by only 110 states and ratified by 67, accounting for less than 50 per cent of the fund's capital.
As regards the North-South dialogue, Ireland, together with the other member states, viewed developments in this area during the period under review as representing a modest achievement. The period was dominated, of course, by the preparation for UNCTAD VI, the conference itself, and its aftermath.
UNCTAD VI was held in Belgrade from 6 June to 2 July 1983. In the various fora which discussed the conference, including the Council (Development) in November, the general consensus has been that UNCTAD VI, while not meeting the relatively ambitious goals of the developing countries, represents, nonetheless, modest progress, with concrete, if limited proposals in a number of areas. The general feeling was also that reasonable progress was made later in the year at the 38th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, on the proposed launching of global negotiations with March 1984 set as the target date for taking a decision.
Progress achieved in European Political Co-operation was generally satisfactory during the period under review. The Solemn Declaration on European Union, about which I have already spoken, performed the useful task of bringing together and formalising in a single document, a number of practical measures which have been introduced in recent years in order to improve the effectiveness and coherence of political co-operation.
Various aspects of the situation in the Middle East continued to preoccupy the Ten in 1983 and figured frequently on the agenda of European Political Co-operation. Foreign forces were still in occupation of much of the territory of Lebanon and on 21-22 March 1983 the European Council stressed the urgent need for the withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian and PLO forces. The European Council statement expressed concern at the lack of progress towards an Arab-Israeli peace settlement and reiterated the elements which the Ten believed such a settlement should encompass.
In the statement of 21-22 March 1983 the Ten emphasised that above all the time had come for Israel to show that it stood ready for genuine negotiations on the basis of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, in the first place by refraining from enlarging existing settlements in the occupied territories or creating new ones. The Ten stated again their view that the settlements were contrary to international law and a major and growing obstacle to peace.
Lebanon was again the subject of a statement by the Ten on 12 September in which they called for a ceasefire in the fighting which had broken out following the partial withdrawal of Israeli troops. The need for a cessation of sectarian violence and the beginning of a process of national reconciliation was stressed. Serious fighting between rival Palestinian groups in Northern Lebanon was mentioned by the Ten in a statement on 9 November when they expressed their preoccupation at the intolerable sufferings and losses of human lives, notably among the civilian population of the area, both Palestinian and Lebanese.
In the Presidency's address to the 38th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Foreign Minister of Greece said that in the interest of the search of peace, the Ten asked Israel to abandon its policy of gradual annexation and of unilaterally creating new facts in the occupied territories, in particular its settlement policy which was contrary to international law and a major and growing obstacle to peace efforts.
Mr. Haralambopoulos also said that the Ten strongly deplored the lack of progress towards the solution of the Iran-Iraq conflict, which constituted a serious threat to the stability of the region and to international security and entailed heavy suffering for the two peoples involved. The Ten appealed urgently to the two belligerents to spare the civilian population and to abide by all international conventions applicable in time of war. In this respect the Ten welcomed the report of the United Nations mission which visited areas subjected to attacks. The Ten confirmed their readiness, if requested by both parties, to participate in the efforts aimed at restoring peace in the area.
Meeting in European Political Co-operation on 27 February 1984, the Foreign Ministers of the Ten reacted to the latest outbreak of violence in Lebanon with an appeal for an effective and durable cease fire. They expressed the desire to see a UN force take up position in Beirut with the agreement of all concerned parties on the basis of a Security Council mandate. Such a development is now unlikely in the immediate future following the veto of the French draft resolution in the Security Council. The Ten repeated their view that all foreign forces should leave Lebanon and called for a renewal of the reconciliation process begun at the Geneva conference in autumn 1983.
Ministers also referred to the intensification of the Iran-Iraq conflict and called for compliance by both sides with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. They appealed to Iran and Iraq to observe the international rules and conventions concerning the protection of the civilian populations and the treatment of prisoners of war.
East-West relations in 1983 continued to be difficult and tense. The Ten continue to believe that a genuine and sincere dialogue is now required to promote a climate of stability and predictability in East-West relations. There is a pressing need for the United States and the Soviet Union to halt the deterioration in their political relationship and to replace the current mood of challenge and confrontation by a process of dialogue leading to agreement. Following the apparent suspension in December by the Soviet Union of the Geneva talks on intermediate nuclear forces, and of the strategic arms reduction talks, in the wake of the initial deployment of Cruise and Pershing II missiles, the urgency for dialogue between the superpowers has become more evident.
The main development in Poland in the period under review was the lifting of martial law on 22 July. At that time the Polish Government offered an amnesty to most prisoners held in detention, as well as to Solidarity and other political activists in hiding. Nevertheless, the Polish Government incorporated into Polish law repressive provisions which maintained the spirit of martial law. In addition, the Polish Government in December significantly increased their powers to control potential opposition.
The Ten continue to believe that only a national reconciliation which takes account of the aspirations of the Polish people can lead Poland out of its present difficulties. They would hope that the Polish authorities will respect the provisions contained in the Helsinki Final Act and the Madrid Concluding Document, especially as regards trade union liberties and civil rights. The Ten will respond positively to constructive measures by the Polish authorities aimed at liberalisation.
In regard to the CSCE, the main development in 1983 was the adoption on 6 September of the Concluding Document of the Madrid Follow-up meeting of the CSCE. The work of the meeting, which began in March 1980, proved difficult and time-consuming due largely to the deterioration in the climate of East-West relations. Nevertheless, the Concluding Document in Ireland's view, and that of the other members of the Ten, is a balanced and substantial text. It contains worthwhile progress on the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. For the first time, the principle of trade union freedom is laid down in a CSCE document. It commits participating states to ensure the rights of workers freely to establish and join trade unions and the right of trade unions freely to exercise their activities. In the area of human contacts the procedures for family reunification across frontiers were improved by mentioning for the first time a time limit — six months — within which applications should be decided upon. The Concluding Document reaffirms the guarantee of religious freedom and the role of religious organisations in society. The provisions relating to the rights of journalists in the participating states are further strengthened.
The Madrid Concluding Document also contains the mandate for the first stage of the Conference on Confidence — and Security — Building Measures and Disarnament in Europe (CDE) which opened in Stockholm on 17 January 1984.
The objective of the first stage of the CDE is to negotiate confidence — and security — building measures designed to reduce the risk of military confrontation in Europe. It is envisaged that a further stage of the CDE would negotiate actual measures of disarmament.
On the sub-continent of Latin America, probably the most significant development in recent months has been the restoration of democracy in Argentina following the elections of 30 October 1983. The whole international community has been heartened by the energy and determination with which President Alfonsin has approached the many problems, both political and economic, which confront his country. One can only hope that the example of Argentina will soon be followed by those of its neighbours whose records in relation to democracy and respect for basic freedoms leave much to be desired.
Prominent among those is Chile, whose Government, despite pressure both from within the country and internationally, appears reluctant to make any significant moves towards democracy and respect for such basic rights as the rights of public assembly, to engage in trade union activity, to freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom from torture. The international concern at the situation in Chile has been once again manifested by the adoption in December 1983 of a UN resolution on the situation on human rights and fundamental freedoms in that country. Ireland along with a number of our partners of the Ten was among the co-sponsors of this resolution.
Central America continues to be the centre of international attention. The plight of the El Salvadorean people is particularly acute. They are the victims of a civil war which still drags on, four years after its commencement. More than half a million people have been forced to leave their homes, and those who remain are afflicted by the ever-permanent terrors of war including, regrettably, murders by squads operating apparently within the framework of the regular army. An electoral process will take place on 25 March to choose a President; the opposition left-wing guerrilla forces will not be participating. I hope the new President, whoever he may be, will take a decisive initiative to bring peace and reconciliation to his country. I am glad to note that Nicaragua appears to be taking steps to uphold its commitment to a pluralist society and to free elections — these are now scheduled for 4 November next. I hope that the government will permit candidates of all political persuasions to present themselves at those elections.
In Asia, Ireland and its partners in the Ten continue to express their concern at the lack of progress towards a comprehensive political solution to the Afghanistan problem. In March 1983 in the joint communique issued at the end of the EEC-ASEAN — Association of South East Asia Nations — Ministerial Meeting, the Foreign Ministers of the Ten joined with the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN in deploring the continuing presence of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the refusal of the Soviet Union to heed the appeals of the international community for a withdrawal of its troops.
Addressing the UN on behalf of the Ten, the Greek Foreign Minister stressed that the key requirement of a solution to the problem was the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Such a withdrawal and a negotiated settlement would permit Afghanistan's independence and non-aligned status to be restored, would allow the Afghanistan people to exercise fully their right to self-determination and enable the Afghan refugees to return home in safety and honour.
The Ten supported General Assembly Resolution 38/29 on the situation in Afghanistan. The resolution was passed with 116 countries voting in favour and 20 against.
To mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, the Ten issued a joint statement on 27 December condemning "the continuing violation of human rights and the attacks against Afghan civilians by Soviet forces in their efforts to suppress the Afghan people's determination of their country".
Recently, there have been several happenings in Southern Africa which, hopefully, will contribute to the peace and stability of the region and will facilitate the long delayed independence of Namibia.
On 29 January South Africa and Mozambique agreed to begin to normalize their diplomatic relations. For years, South Africa has accused Mozambique of providing bases for attacks against its territory by the banned Africa National Congress. Accordingly, South Africa has pursued a policy of destabilizing Mozambique by supporting the Mozambique National Resistance guerrilla movement and by itself attacking targets in Mozambique. The recent agreement provides for joint working groups to discuss improved relations in economic and security matters, in tourism and in the utilisation of the hydroelectric output of the Cahora Bassa dam. It is expected that a non-aggression pact will shortly be signed which will prohibit either country being used as a base for attacking the other.
On 27 February, the Foreign Ministers of the Ten welcomed these agreements as increasing the security and stability of Southern Africa and as facilitating progress towards Namibia independence in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 435. The Ten also expressed their willingness to help the development of a free and independent Namibia.
Ireland has long supported Namibian independence and is hopeful that the recent agreements will create a climate of confidence which will cause South Africa to unblock progress towards the implementation of the UN plan for independence which is embodied in Resolution 35.
Unfortunately, the progress which has been made in its external relations is not reflected in South Africa's internal policies. It adopted a new constitution in November 1983 which gives very circumscribed representation in Parliament to Coloureds and Asians. Black citizens of South Africa continue to be denied national representation.
Our opposition to apartheid is based on the principle that people are equal, irrespective of their race, colour or creed. We do not accept that changes in the operation of apartheid are `reforms'; rather, Ireland continues to argue for a complete abolition of an iniquitous system.
The Ten were unequivocal and immediate in their rejection of the declaration in November by the Turkish Cypriot authorities purporting to create an independent state in northern Cyprus. Ireland has always had a special interest in the problems of Cyprus, and on the day the Turkish Cypriot declaration was made the Government issued a statement rejecting the act and reaffirming Ireland's commitment to the independence, unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus. On 18 November the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 541 which, among other things, considered that declaration to be legally invalid, called for its withdrawal, called upon all states not to recognise the declaration and called upon those concerned to cooperate with the Secretary General of the United Nations in his mission of good offices. Full implementation of that resolution by the parties concerned is in Ireland's view the best way forward out of the present impasse. The immediate priority must be a rescinding of the purported declaration of independence.
I have reviewed the major developments in the Community during 1983. I have also tried to put before the House the most important developments with which the Community had dealt since that period. As Ireland prepares to assume the Presidency in less than four months' time, I think that there is a need to examine closely our position in the Community following the rather traumatic experiences of the recent past. I feel there is a need to guard against the development among us of a sense of isolation as we pursue our justifiable opposition to some of the proposals we have been confronted with. Indeed such an attitude would be quite detrimental to our whole perception of our Community membership and to the pursuit of our interests within that Community.
On the milk super-levy issue, we have gained a tremendous amount of sympathy and understanding for Ireland's special position. The Government have tried to build on this sympathy and understanding with, I believe, some success. However, we must also be ready to look beyond this issue in the recognition of the benefits that membership of the European Community has brought to Ireland. The quite astonishing diversification of our export market towards the member states is one instance. The fundamental changes the Common Agriculture Policy has brought to the agriculture scene in this country is perhaps the most dramatic example of the impact of the Community on our lives.
Apart from the purely economic advantages we have gained from membership of the Community there has been a change in our national outlook. We have become much more aware of our place in the international community and our voice is strengthened by the role we play in the economic and political affairs of Europe.
I would conclude that enlightened self-interest demands that we should continue to be fully Community-minded and positive in our membership. The Treaty of Rome, the foundation stone of the Community, represents best the interests of the smaller, less-developed member states. Any radical departure from the principles laid down in that Treaty would have the gravest implications for the Community — and ourselves.
We must thank the Minister for coming in today and giving a very candid and informative description of what did and did not happen in the EEC during 1983. In fact, I also feel the document he has read out gives us very little hope for the future of the EEC. Whereas the statement was very wide-ranging I was disturbed that one of the main problems we have in the EEC at present and a problem which relates to Ireland more than to any other country, the situation regarding unemployment, particularly the unemployment of young people, was not mentioned in his speech. There are a number of items mentioned which have relevance in the employment situation such as the effects of CAP, the effects of the super-levy and the effects of the deferring of payments. Nevertheless in a 30 page speech there is not one page relating to employment. If we are dealing with what happened last year in the EEC, surely employment must be one of the major factors we have to take into account. From the very beginning there is a sense in his speech that things did not go well and it is just as well to admit that that did happen last year. He mentioned that the Community staggered from crisis to crisis and basically that there is no future for the EEC until such time as we get the finances of the EEC into a workable situation whereby from year to year rather than from month to month we know where we are going.
The Minister mentioned that there were little or no policy developments within the EEC last year. There could be very few policy developments since most of the time was spent in argument as to where the money would come from. In a sense we are arguably talking about an organisation or a group of countries which, in bankers' terms, would not be permitted to continue in existence and it is sincerely to be hoped that in 1984 more progress will be made in terms of providing the funds which are necessary to continue the EEC as a viable unit. He mentioned that we are taking over the Presidency in four months' time and I sincerely hope that by the time the Presidency is taken over some of the major problems in regard to finance will be resolved.
The Minister mentioned, towards the end of his speech, that we in Ireland in the last 12 months have felt a sense of isolation and that we should not let this sense of isolation grow, that we have gained many benefits from the EEC over the past number of years. There is absolutely no doubt that this is true. However, within the EEC over the past 12 months because of economic and social factors not alone has there been a sense of isolation growing up in Ireland, there has been a sense of isolation growing up in other countries as well.
The sense of European Union which we all want to see achieved has been put further and further away from us. There has been a tendency in the stronger countries in Europe to feel that they should not support the weaker countries and there has been a tendency in the weaker countries to feel that the stronger countries, because of the lack of funds or because of lack of commitment, are now prepared to go back to the old nationalistic and isolationist stances that existed before the EEC came into being. I feel the Minister could have spoken much more about the unemployment problem. There is absolutely no doubt that in Ireland we feel the full brunt of the EEC policies which are militating against us in creating more employment. We have a huge number of people unemployed in the under 25 age group. Unfortunately, from the statistics that are issuing from Eurostat and various Departments which issue statistics, it would appear as if we in Ireland have the lowest rate of unemployment, at 19.4 per cent, in the EEC. This does not take into account that our statistics are not compiled on the same statistical basis as in other countries. We do not consider people who have just left school, who have not yet signed on for unemployment benefit, to be unemployed, whereas in fact they are. We do not consider that there are a number of other considerations that have to be taken into account.
There is no doubt that the Minister was right in suggesting that the protection of the Common Agricultural Policy and the fight for the Common Agricultural Policy is a major issue that we must pursue and we must win. To take the issue on a very broad spectrum sometimes tends to hide the effect on a local economy. To go back to a local economy such as the one in the south-east I take Avonmore Creamery as an instance and the effect that the super-levy would have on the Avonmore region in regard to milk intake.