Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Questions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

1 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on the outcome of his meeting on 7 July 2009 with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. BanKi-moon. [30600/09]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

2 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach when he next expects to visit the United States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30610/09]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

3 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will convene a meeting of the Ireland-America Economic Advisory Board during his next visit to the United States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30611/09]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

4 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the arrangements in place within his Department for maintaining contact with the Ireland-America Economic Advisory Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30612/09]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

5 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the foreign visits he plans to undertake during the remainder of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30620/09]

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Eamon Gilmore

Question:

6 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach his plans for official trips abroad up to end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30664/09]

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Eamon Gilmore

Question:

7 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on his participation at the UN Summit on Climate Change. [33524/09]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

8 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his attendance at the recent UN Climate Change Summit in New York; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33525/09]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

9 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the programme for his recent visit to New York; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33526/09]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

10 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his participation at the United Nations Assembly on 23 September 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33527/09]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

11 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach his engagements during his recent visit to New York; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33528/09]

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Liz McManus

Question:

12 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Taoiseach if he will be attending the climate change talks in Copenhagen taking place in December 2009. [34088/09]

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Liz McManus

Question:

13 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent attendance at the UN climate change summit in New York. [34089/09]

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Oral answers (20 contributions) (Question to Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 13, inclusive, together

On 7 July, I hosted a working lunch in Government Buildings for the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Our discussions covered a number of key issues including progress on achieving the millennium development goals; the report of the Government's hunger task force; and the global challenge of climate change, including preparations for the UN summit which will take place in Copenhagen in December.

During the course of our discussions I raised our concerns regarding the serious situation of the kidnappings of the two volunteer workers with GOAL in Sudan, which, thankfully, was recently resolved successfully. I also pledged the ongoing support and assistance of Ireland for the work of the Secretary General and of the UN in general.

On 22 September, I attended a high-level meeting on climate change in New York. This was convened by the UN Secretary General in order to gather political momentum in the run up to the forthcoming UN summit in Copenhagen. The meeting, which took place ahead of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, was well attended at Heads of State and Government level and was the biggest ever gathering of political leaders to discuss climate change with a view to reaching what is hoped will be a comprehensive and effective international agreement. The overall thrust of the interventions made at the meeting was one of political commitment to do more to address climate change. At the plenary session, Chinese President Hu laid out a new plan to tackle China's emissions, tying them to economic growth. President Obama outlined his Government's work on climate change since he took office and reaffirmed the United States' commitment to act decisively.

During my intervention I said that we needed to take action now that is proportionate to the challenge facing us and that we must have meaningful proposals on the table in December on the basis of the Bali action plan which provides a clear framework for an international agreement. The EU has already led the way with a commitment to a 20% reduction in emissions, to be stepped up to 30% as part of a global deal. The global community must play its part in ensuring a fair and balanced overall agreement.

Regarding my travel plans for the remainder of 2009, it is my intention to attend the December European Council in Brussels and to attend the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. I will also attend the next summit of the British-Irish Council to be held on 13 November in Jersey.

I did not formally meet the Ireland-America Economic Advisory Board during my visit to the United States in September. I last met the board during my St. Patrick's Day trip to the United States earlier this year as I reported to this House on 20 May last. Currently, I have no plans to travel to the US again in 2009. One would expect that I will travel to the US next March for the usual St. Patrick's Day celebrations. A number of the members of the board were in attendance at the Global Economic Forum in Farmleigh over the weekend of 18 to 20 September and I met them informally on that occasion. I also met some of them informally at an event which I addressed at the Amercian-Irish Historical Society while in New York on 22 September. My Department maintains contact with the board primarily through the Irish Embassy in Washington, as well as through visits and meetings.

During the Taoiseach's meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations, did the Secretary General raise with him what Dóchas has called the "enormous and disproportionate" cuts in Ireland's ODA? Was there any discussion about Ireland's commitment to ODA? Was there any discussion as to how Ireland might now reach the UN target of 0.7% of GDP?

I note that one of the forthcoming meetings the Taoiseach will attend is the British-Irish Council in December. Does he have any plans to raise at that meeting or perhaps bilaterally yesterday's announcement by the British Government of its intention to expand its capacity to generate electricity from nuclear power stations and in particular the decision to locate a large number of those — I believe seven power stations — on the west coast of Britain, including at Sellafield and at Anglesey? Is it still Government policy to oppose the expansion of nuclear generation in the United Kingdom and, if so, what action, if any, has been taken by the Government on this?

Specific questions on energy matters are best put to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, who can outline the current situation in more accurate detail than I.

In regard to the meeting last July with the Secretary General, the latter was quite praiseworthy of the progress Ireland has made in recent years in terms both of increasing the volume of our overseas development aid and enhancing the efficacy of how we work with United Nations agencies in its disbursement. Ireland is seen as a very good global citizen in that respect. While everybody acknowledges the budgetary problems that are affecting all developed economies, there is recognition that Ireland has made a series of huge strides in moving up the list of developed countries in terms of our provision of overseas development aid as a proportion of overall gross national product. Far from being subject to criticism in this regard, the contrary was the case. The Secretary General referred to the continuing commitment Ireland has demonstrated in this area, particularly in the past decade, as shown by the considerable resources we have allocated and the capacity-building in which we have engaged.

In particular, there is welcome recognition of the work being done by the hunger task force which we launched last year. The United Nations understands the focus we are trying to bring to that issue, as well as our focus on the need to assist smallholders in Africa, to deal with malnutrition, both maternal and infant, and the whole question of governance and the more effective tackling of global hunger issues by multilateral organisations, quite apart from bilateral aid programmes. The United Nations regards Ireland's endeavours in this area as one of the best examples of a developing aid programme. We are working with multilateral organisations to identify priority countries and are working closely with other contributors of development aid in those countries so that the maximum possible effectiveness can be achieved in respect of the overall development effort not only by Ireland but by the other contributing countries.

In regard to the British-Irish Council, the agenda for next Friday's meeting has already has been set and I understand it would not be possible for an announcement that was made yesterday to form part of that agenda. We have had a view in regard to nuclear power in our jurisdiction, as well as concerns about nuclear generation in the neighbouring jurisdiction. That general policy position still holds, although I note, as the Deputy did, yesterday's announcement by the British Government.

Two aspects of the Taoiseach's reply surprise me. First, it is surprising that the Secretary General of the United Nations should praise Ireland at a time when we are reducing our overseas development aid allocation. Was there any discussion of how we now propose to reach our target of 0.7% of GDP and did the Taoiseach indicate to the Secretary General any timeframe in that regard?

Second, in regard to the forthcoming meeting of the British-Irish Council, I am surprised at the Taoiseach's statement that this is a matter for the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The question of Britain's nuclear industry and the consequences it has for this country, particularly the location of nuclear installations of one type or another on the west coast of Britain, has always been a matter which has been addressed at the highest level of government and which always has been a policy priority for Government. I am surprised the Taoiseach said this has slipped down the order of priorities to the point that a major announcement by the British Government that it intends to expand its number of nuclear facilities and locate some of them in Sellafield and Anglesey, which is less than 50 miles across the sea from my constituency, for example, is not considered sufficiently important to be on the agenda of the British-Irish Council. Was there consultation by the British authorities with the Government in respect of the expansion of their nuclear industry and the consequences that has for us?

I recall when the Labour Party was in government that there was a successful direct intervention by that Government in respect of the expansion of a nuclear facility and I am surprised the present Government does not appear to be giving this issue the priority it requires to the point that the British Government and the British authorities clearly feel free to announce a major expansion of their nuclear capacity, locating seven of the facilities on the west coast, and it is not even on the agenda of the British-Irish Council.

With respect to the Deputy, the questions relate to visits I may undertake in the coming period. His first supplementary question was about the progress that has been made in the continuing interaction between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and its counterpart in Britain regarding developments at Sellafield, for example, and I indicated that for the purposes of an updated, accurate reply, it would be best to table that question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Such a supplementary was not envisaged in the context of the questions tabled to me regarding the matters outlined in them.

Second, as I stated in my earlier reply, the Government deals with the British Government on this matter on an ongoing basis but a question about it without notice in regard to ministerial responsibility should be taken up with the Minister who can update the Deputy.

Third, I refer to his surprise that this issue is not on the agenda of the British-Irish Council. The agenda has been set for some time in regard to the various governments and administrations that will attend the meeting based on the work that goes on there. We would take up bilaterally with the British Government any development where we see a possible problem for us and it would not come within the ambit of the British-Irish Council. That deals with strand three issues under the Good Friday Agreement. We could take up the question of examining energy requirements for the jurisdictions generally with them.

With regard to the question about the UN Secretary General, I do not understand why the Deputy should suggest there was surprise on his part regarding Ireland's record in this area. We are in the top eight in the world per head of population in the provision of overseas development aid not only to the UN and its agencies, of which we have been a strong supporter, but also through our bilateral programmes. When the Secretary General gets an opportunity to visit Ireland, it would be totally within his remit to commend successive Governments on the fact that among the 164 UN members we are in the top eight in the provision of overseas development aid according to our capacity.

I thank the Taoiseach for his support for an Irish candidate in respect of the Presidency of the European Council. He stated he intends to travel to Brussels for the meeting which will resolve that. I have an internal list from Europe, which indicates at least 22 of the 27 member states have nominated their personnel for commissionerships. They are currently engaged in serious lobbying for a range of positions. When will the Taoiseach be in a position to announce the name of the nominee for Irish Commissioner, in view of the fact that 22 of the 27 member states are already engaged in serious lobbying? Would it not be appropriate to make the announcement as soon as possible?

The President of the Commission, to whom I have spoken on this matter, confirms that he is not in a position to consider the composition of the next Commission until the High Representative is appointed. Under the new arrangements established by the Lisbon Treaty, the High Representative will be a vice-president of the Commission. Until that matter becomes clear, which must be dealt with at a European Council meeting yet to be fixed, the President of the Commission is not in a position to make any arrangements.

With regard to our own situation, I have spoken to the President of the Commission. The matter is under consideration and is being finalised. I will discuss it further with him this week.

On this list a range of desired portfolios is given in respect of each nomination from the 22 member states. They include climate, enterprise, budget, economic and monetary affairs and foreign security policy. I accept that the process cannot be concluded until the High Representative, who will probably come from the socialist group, is appointed. In any event, the lists of candidates for that and other positions have been narrowed down to a small number. Serious lobbying is taking place for desired commissionerships. The Government, therefore, should consider carefully where we want to be placed in the commissionership league. It is because of Ireland's approval of the Lisbon treaty that every country will have a Commissioner. From that reason, member states are conscious of the importance of commissionerships to the Irish people. We endorsed a treaty which would give every country a Commissioner.

Last March the Taoiseach launched a review of Ireland-US relations and the establishment of a new Irish-American leadership council. I understand the council has met only once, in October last. When will its next meeting be held? Was there an outcome from the first meeting or did the council simply agree to meet again? Will the Ireland-America Economic Advisory Board, which has been in existence for some time, operate in future?

When the Taoiseach was dealing with the relationships between Ireland and the United States he did a comprehensive review and said it was his intention to appoint new consuls to Atlanta and Houston. Is that process in train and is an announcement pending regarding those consulates? Will it be necessary to acquire residential or office property in those locations?

The Ireland-America Economic Advisory Board was established in late 1992. Its purpose is to engage corporate leaders in the United States in an effort to promote Ireland as an investment location, to avail of their help in the Northern Ireland situation and to respond to Irish-American leaders' willingness to be identified with Irish issues. Meetings with the board provide an invaluable insight into current and future business trends and an assessment of the US economy and the future prospects for US companies investing in Ireland. The discussions also tend to cover Ireland's own economic performance, initiatives taken by the Government to promote indigenous and foreign investment and an assessment of the Northern Ireland situation. It is a useful source of advice and personal contacts among the Irish-American business community. The Irish Embassy maintains very close contact with board members who are an important source of advice and assistance for us. Likewise, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland have offices in key US locations and are in constant contact with important US investors in Ireland.

The Deputy referred to the strategy report undertaken by the ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Collins, on the initiative of Government. In the aftermath of what has been thus far a successful implementation of many aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement, although there is a still work to be done in that respect, I felt it was timely to review our relationships and how we can continue to encourage that rapport and close contact with the United States, not only with its Administration but in terms of what role the diaspora could play in the future.

There is not as much travel by Irish people to the United States as was the case in previous generations. We all know from our family connections, if nothing else, that over quite a short period of time — a matter of a few decades — and from one generation to the next, we can see a very quick and, in many respects, a natural lessening in the ties that bind us. That can happen very quickly.

Similarly with relationships between states, it is very important we do not take for granted the relationship with the United States. Having obviously consulted many community and other leaders among Irish Americans and people outside the diaspora, the ambassador brought forward this report. It is by its nature a long-term strategy and it is not about changing the situation overnight. As time moves on, we must see in what way we maintain our influence.

For example, we saw the demise of Senator Ted Kennedy. He is a recent example of a strong political personality who passed from the stage. How to replace that void in political terms is not something which can be done overnight or at the flick of a switch. It requires developing a rapport and relationships with political figures on both sides of the aisle in the United States on an ongoing basis which cannot replace immediately such a major figure for us.

Many people want to assist and help. What that strategy outlines is that over time, we need to increase our physical presence throughout the United States. It does not necessarily mean adding huge costs to existing operations. We may have to try to see in what way existing budgets can be prioritised to accommodate these types of developments which are envisaged in the same way as we must in our domestic policy framework.

One of the recommendations was this idea of an Irish-American leadership council. Members of the council met the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his visit to the United States. It is not an executive body. Again, it is about having a structure that will enable people from different walks of life, and not only the commercial or corporate side of America, to be part of a structure which would interface with Government.

One of the great outcomes, or one of the most important legacies of the peace process, in particular in America, has been that all strands of opinion in the diaspora are working hand in hand with the Government. That is something we need to elevate and work on because in the past, I am convinced there were many missed opportunities owing to the disparate opinions taken by different elements of the diaspora over time in regard to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, etc. Thankfully, we have found an inclusive way forward in which people's political aspirations or views can be accommodated on the basis of adherence to the democratic principles.

More important, many people are now working on a common agenda with regard to developing the country and developing investment opportunities, ensuring that trade and investment into the United States by Irish companies can be successful. A significant change has occurred because of the fact we have settled political differences in that respect. The ambassador's strategy report is a first step of many that will need to be taken to address this loosening of ties that can happen very quickly, almost in front of our eyes if we are not careful. The report contains many recommendations on how we then ensure that people's sense of identity in the United States, even if they are third, fourth or fifth generation beyond the original connection, and that their sense of Irishness can be accommodated and acknowledged. This is the context of the report.

I share many of the Taoiseach's views with regard to Ireland's relationship with the United States. I had a recent brief meeting with Ambassador Rooney. He is a good man with a great love of Ireland and I am confident he will do whatever he can to continue the very strong relationship between our two countries. Is the Taoiseach happy with the reports from IDA Ireland in respect of the pipeline for investment from the United States, that it is still strong and that opportunities are still there? Is he concerned about the clear lack of competitiveness in business here? I am sure the Government is reflecting on this point.

Can the Taoiseach provide any update on the proposal by President Obama and the White House to deal with income generated by multinationals outside the United States which would have an impact on Ireland? Can he provide any update on the discussions about Irish illegal immigrants, the undocumented Irish, as they are known? The Taoiseach is well acquainted with this problem. There appears to be a divergence of opinion because on the one hand the Taoiseach is looking for comprehensive and specific legislation from the White House and the US Congress and others, in respect of Ireland. Is there any update available in this regard?

The Taoiseach will be attending the Copenhagen conference on climate change. Does he accept we are not going to get anywhere unless there is an acceptance of a massive transfer of resources from richer to poorer countries and that unless world leaders, the European Union, the United States, India, China and others, sign up, no progress will be made as a result of the conference?

With regard to investment, even in the past five years there has been a significant change in the profile of investment. Five years ago, 10% of IDA-approved projects from the United States were in the area of research and development whereas 40% of the investments last year were in that category. This demonstrates the strong capital-intensive commitment being made by multinationals in Ireland on a continuing basis. They regard the location in Ireland of research and development facilities as deepening the roots of their activities in Ireland. By definition, the spin-off benefits from research and development are not immediately known but it is a good indication of their commitment to Ireland as an investment location that this is happening.

As Deputy Kenny observed, the broader competitiveness issues must be confronted and addressed by the Irish economy in the new economic situation that has now developed as a result of the worst financial and economic crisis we have seen in a long time. We have to try and address these issues in our domestic policy framework while at the same time continuing to be competitive in respect of international investment flows. Our main competitors for attracting foreign investment activities are places such as Singapore, Korea and Israel. It is very important that we continue to support and listen attentively to what IDA Ireland has to say about the evolving trends which become evident in the field. It is important to make the point that 40% of IDA investment last year was research and development-related, a big change even in four or five years.

The matter of the location of the United States as a place for Ireland to do business is not only restricted to the IDA. I have attended or been involved with Enterprise Ireland-related exercises and trade missions. Many businesses accompanied us during the St. Patrick's Day period. The successful business being done by Irish business people there is a timely reminder to all of us that while people have the right and entitlement to portray the difficulties through which the Irish economy is passing at the moment, many enterprising people, entrepreneurs, business people and Irish companies are getting business and ensuring they are diversifying and getting into other areas of activity. It was very heartening to see their demeanour, attitude and the can-do approach that epitomises everything they have been doing there and the resulting successful outcomes. In addition, the good word for Enterprise Ireland among native Irish business people is encouraging. We have seen a big reform of that organisation in recent years under the leadership of Mr. Ryan and others. It is very focused and those of us who have reason to be in touch with the business community through various positions acknowledge that both Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland serve us and the businesses community well. There is never room for complacency and no one could ever claim there is no room for improvement but I have been very heartened by what I have seen and heard from those for whom these agencies have been set up in the first place.

I refer to Deputy Kenny's question about the tax haven situation. It was very clear from my discussions with President Obama when we visited the USA on St. Patrick's Day that Ireland is not being contemplated or categorised in respect of that aspect of policy under review within the Obama Administration. The level of economic activity here in respect of the investment made here is transparent and clear. We are in compliance with all international treaty obligations and there is a recognition that Ireland has a competitive corporation tax. It is applicable to all companies and we do not deal in any differentiated way with anyone. There are other countries which have nominally higher corporate tax rates, which on an ad hoc or individual basis provide various opportunities for investment or improved terms and conditions for those who locate in such countries but which are not as transparent or as open as Ireland. We should not have anything to fear in any way or suggest we have anything to hide; quite the contrary. We have one of the most transparent corporate taxation arrangements anywhere in the developed world. The move to 12.5% as a corporate tax rate generally was a very wise decision, the process was completed over a period, it serves the country well and we should be mindful of it.

I am not aware to what extent there has been any progress in the United States Congress in respect of the policy initiative getting legislative legs or to what extent legislation is being prepared. It is a longer process than people think. However, the US Treasury Secretary and others have referred to it. Obviously, our people are keeping a very close eye on developments. We are ensuring our situation is well understood and comprehended. My information is that the representations we continue to make confirm that Ireland is not in the sights of those who seek out certain jurisdictions the tax status of which is very preferential vis-à-vis American companies and what such companies pay in their own country. This must be examined in terms of where those profits are being decided upon in some of those locations.

The issue of illegal immigration was raised with US Secretary of State Clinton when she came here in another capacity regarding Northern Ireland. We have met members of the committee that deals with this issue. Some prominent members of the committee visited Ireland some months ago and I had the opportunity to meet them. This is a very sensitive issue in domestic politics in the United States for obvious reasons. A bipartisan approach provides the best prospect of success. Many prominent people on both sides of the aisle, like the late Senator Kennedy and Senator McCain, unfortunately were not successful in their efforts to propose comprehensive legislation on this issue.

It is obvious that it will not be dealt with on a country-by-country basis. An overall legislative response is envisaged in seeking to find out the realistic situation politically on Capitol Hill. Conveying the fact that we understand it is a difficult issue and that we seek to be accommodated under the overall umbrella is the best approach we can take. We must build support for the particular Irish issues that arise, recognising that we are not the only people with a problem in this regard. Other countries and other nationalities are involved and we must find a common solution.

The final supplementary question concerned the Copenhagen meeting. It is clear from the European Council conclusions on 29 and 30 October that the European Union is prepared to go further than it already has gone. It has taken a leadership role in this area but other parts of the world must come up front and see what contribution they can make. The conclusions confirm the commitment of the European Union but recognise that this is not something we can do alone.

I call Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

I have a question on this. Two questions have been tabled in my name on this matter.

Deputy McManus should be brief because we are near the end.

I appreciate that. The brevity of the Taoiseach's answer causes my additional questions. I understand from the Taoiseach's reply that he will attend the Copenhagen meeting. That is very welcome news to Members of the House. It sends a strong message that Ireland is committed to dealing with climate change. I ask the Taoiseach to consider that the message might be stronger if he was to attend carrying in his briefcase a climate change Bill published ahead of his visit with the support of all parties. The Taoiseach is aware of the Oireachtas committee report that sets out the heads of such a Bill. It has all-party support and strong support from the Fianna Fáil committee members. Will the Minister ensure that this Bill is published before he attends the Copenhagen meeting?

Regarding overseas development aid, can the Taoiseach assure us that the commitments made by Ireland to deal with the management of climate change in poor countries will not be removed from the overseas development aid budget but will be additional to it?

I am aware the committee of which Deputy McManus is a member has produced a report and the heads of a Bill on this question. It is a matter for the Minister and the Government to decide what contribution that can make to legislation envisaged in this area. The goodwill of the European Union is not in question on this matter. We have set out our targets and in the conclusions of the European Council we set out that we are prepared to go further, but it is strongly conditional. Success at Copenhagen will not be determined by the number of domestic Governments submitting targets they have agreed to individually and collectively in the EU, although I understand that this is not what Deputy McManus suggests. It will be determined by the preparedness of other parts of the world to make a proportionate contribution based on the scientific evidence available.

It is nice to have a lead role.

We have a lead role. The European Union will be led and chaired by the Danish Prime Minister and the Danish Government which have been tasked with this job. The Swedish Presidency and the Commission have been in Delhi and the United States in the past seven days meeting the Obama Administration, the Indian Administration and the Chinese in an effort to ensure that people come to Copenhagen, on the basis of what they had to say at the UN summit called by the Secretary General, with money and a commitment to do the business. That is the defining issue as to whether we will have an outcome.

The most optimistic of advocates of this issue would confirm that it is unlikely a full treaty will be agreed at Copenhagen but what we need to see is that the basic principles and commitments are made so that the detailed work that would follow on from that can be taken as simply the detail beyond the political agreement. In fairness, the European Union is working hard and Ireland has been quite supportive.

Deputy McManus is acutely aware that this is a very technical area and Ireland has been broadly happy with the way the burden-sharing arrangements are being handled. There is still a working group to be undertaken and many member states have concerns about this area but that is a matter for the Union to solve. The Union is taking a leadership role on the global issue and has put its cards on the table in a far more transparent way than others. It is now up to others to come forward with the same degree not only of enthusiasm but evidence that they are prepared to put resources behind what they have to say.

Will the ODA budget be separate?

The ODA budget continues to be part of the budgetary discussions and we are trying to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected. Successive administrations have made much progress on this issue in the past decade.