Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 26 Jun 1985

Vol. 359 No. 10

Dooge Committee Report on European Union: Statements (Resumed).

Before the adjournment of the debate I pointed out that the Taoiseach had already undermined his position before going to the European Council in Milan at the weekend. Never have I seen a Taoiseach hand so many arguments to those opposed to the principles of the EC. The Taoiseach has conceded the argument before he goes and if the Prime Minister of Great Britain or the Chancellor of the Federal Republic wanted to demonstrate to the Taoiseach in Milan that Ireland has no cause for complaint and has benefited much more than other nations from membership of the EC and should keep her peace, they could refer to no better authority than to the statement which the Taoiseach made this morning. By outlining the benefits we have enjoyed he has pointed out the fact that by comparison with any of the other member states in terms of our budget contributions and net receipts from EC funds, we have been the most significant beneficiary of EC membership. That is totally and utterly against anything I understood the Taoiseach to say at any time in our joint campaigns as members of the common European movement before we joined the EC and both as Ministers for Foreign Affairs and spokesmen for the Opposition. I have never heard a Taoiseach apply the principle of juste retour to demonstrate that we have benefited from the Community at a level which no one else has. That principle has been anathema not just to us but to anyone who has a care for the European commitment.

Mrs. Thatcher can point to the Taoiseach and say: "You said, Taoiseach, before you came here that you were a major beneficiary and you also said, Taoiseach, that the net transfers the other way, meaning the contributors, were in respect of Germany, France and the UK amounting to negative transfers of European Community resources". That is unacceptable from any Taoiseach. It is time we heard some straight, plain talking from the Taoiseach in the manner in which Mrs. Thatcher has spoken at Council meetings in recent years. She had no reluctance to put it in simple terms. She said: "I want my money back". I heard her at the European Council in 1979 put it in those stark terms.

Was that the day the Deputy was arrested on the way back?

She had no reluctance in stating that she would not accept the level of contribution being demanded or to underline the principles of the EC. From that moment the European Community was turned inward on itself, focusing only on the budget contributions. The basic principles of the EC enshrined in the Treaties has been totally ignored. Is the Taoiseach so anxious to present himself as being a committed European—my commitment started at the same time as his in the early sixties when I was a member of the same movement and attended the same meetings with him — that he is prepared to ignore the problems? He tells us that one of the matters that could arise in the European Union discussion might be as he said in his speech:

Other issues that could arise in relation to the movement towards a European union include the development of the EMS; the closely associated issues of economic convergence of member states....

The way that was stated by any Taoiseach was that an issue that must arise is the issue of convergence of the economies of the member states not just because Ireland says so but because that is the basis of the Treaty was signed. That is what the preamble in the Treaty of Rome states. It affirms as the essential objectives of their efforts, namely the signatory states, the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples and underlines as an essential objectives the need to bring about a more balanced economic development throughout the European Community. In view of the failure to move in line with the obligations already established in the Treaty, there has been a tendency in recent years to develop a new notion of European union which is not based on the Treaties signed by the original member states and which was not part of the Treaty of Accession that we committed ourselves to.

The European Union to which the Taoiseach referred this morning when he quoted Seán Lemass was a union based on the economic policies of the EC to balance the policies of the Common Market. Let me put it bluntly to the Taoiseach before he goes out with this craven attitude to Margaret Thatcher or Chancellor Kohl that the advantage which accrues to the major economies of the EC accrue from the Common Market with their economic force, industrial expansion and technological expertise. The opportunities they have to exploit the Common Market is the balance that must be protected in our interest by economic policies for regional development, social development, agricultural development, research development. They have had the benefit of exploiting the market in a way in which we never could. Some of them are at the centre of the market both geographically and traditionally but we are at the periphery.

The opportunity that has accrued to the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands and France particularly, and which would have accrued to the UK had they any awareness of their European commitment, has been such as to enable these members to expand and to exploit it. The only protection for the peripheral regions were the necessary funds that were made available by way of the regional, social and agricultural policies but there was not a word from the Taoiseach in relation to all of that.

What is required is a word of condemnation but that was not forthcoming either. As we have now reached about No. 10 on the list, is the Taoiseach asking us to live in cloud cuckooland? Is he not aware of all the reports that emanated from the Heads of Government down through the years, those very Heads of Government who wanted to block progress towards the aim of the Community? We can go back as far as the Vedel and Tindemans reports. One recalls when that great European, Tindemans came on the scene, all the jargon was used again — a new relaunch of Europe and so on. This was the initiative of the Council but the Council buried the report because there were other Prime Ministers and Presidents in office when the report was returned.

Then there were other Prime Ministers such as D'Estaing and Schmidt, men of great European commitment, but they asked for a further report. On that occasion there followed the report of the Three Wise Men. That report was debated but when other Prime Ministers came to office nothing was done to implement any of its recommendations. Then there was the Mandate Report from the Commission, a report that had been sought by the European Council and in which I was directly involved. A detailed document was presented by the Commission in which it was pointed out, among other things, that unless Europe provided adequate resources for research and development, for technological development, for important programmes and adequate resources to develop an international market for our agricultural produce, there would be problems. But the people, among them Mrs. Thatcher in particular, who are now talking about another report on European Union buried that detailed document.

Are we to pretend in the light of all this that next week's chat or 24 hour discussion with the high profile of another summit will relaunch Europe? It is not surprising that the founding fathers of Europe excluded deliberately from the institutions of the Community the Heads of Government who meet three times a year for one day each time. One could not possibly expect from such an institution any real European commitment because each Head of State is anxious to return and demonstrate to the citizens at home that she or he has held the ground or, as Mrs. Thatcher has demonstrated so often in recent times, has not conceded to the others in Europe. That is not the way Europe was built.

It is vitally important that the authority of the Commission should be re-established because that authority has been totally undermined by the same Heads of Government. The Taoiseach said blandly that it is important to re-establish the independence of the Commission. Would he not be frank enough for once to say that the Three Wise Men Report, the Commission Mandate Report and at least two other reports recommended that there should be one Commissioner from each member state? Would the Taoiseach not be man enough for once to state that the very people who ensured that would not happen are the Heads of Government to whom he has conceded before going to Milan? Are we reaching the stage when an Irish voice has to be qualified by some vague European commitment, by our talking in terms of some Luxembourg compromise or common interest? Are we reaching the stage when we cannot do as the others do and talk in plain terms?

The EC has become a sick Community and the reasons for that are clear. Four years ago the total number unemployed in the Community was 8.79 million. Today the figure is 14 million. The peoples of the member states see the Community as an institution that is not relevant, not caring and not effective. It is very different from the Europe that was launched at the high tide of democracy in Europe when there was a common commitment and when the founding fathers said they were resolved to substitute for age old rivalries the merging of their essential interest to create, by establishing an economic community, the basis for a broader and deeper community among people long divided and to lay the foundation for institutions which would give direction to a destiny to be shared. Where is the basis now for establishing a deeper economic community? In his famous speech in Florence on convergence, President Jenkins of the Commission on behalf of all, pointed out that the direction that was part and parcel of the Community was the elimination of major imbalances, thereby giving rise to greater economic cohesion, greater economic union and, finally from that, the political union of which we are now talking.

He was talking about the internal cohesion which subsequently would lead to an external common position. There cannot be a foreign policy on the part of a unit that has no internal cohesion. These are simple facts that apply to any community at any stage in history, but anyone reading the Taoiseach's statement today would have to despair in so far as the Irish are concerned. We have a commitment to Europe and we look at that Europe which has turned in on itself and which has turned away from the developing countries.

There is the scandal whereby not only is food production being reduced in the Community but it is penalised while at the same time we cannot even get into an international marketing situation to alleviate the crushing problems of the starving peoples, most of whom had very special relations with the member states of the Community. There will never be a worthwhile, dignified Europe until there is a concern for and an awareness of its obligations to others. Even then we could demonstrate that it would be in our common economic interest to promote the economic development of these nations, or are we always to sit back and assume that the African sub-continent particularly is to be cast permanently in the role of semi-starving and in receipt only of our charity by way of development programmes?

These are the issues that should be discussed in Milan. I hope one of the things of which the Taoiseach will remind them is that we have had a plethora of reports in the past ten years in particular. There must be a library of them. I have mentioned some. He has mentioned many himself, including the MacDougall Report. They all argued towards the right conclusion based on the Treaties and were all thrown aside.

Now we are engaged in a new dimension. When Europe fails to realise its stated aims those with very limited aims — and Margaret Thatcher must be numbered proudly among them — then dream up another concept of European Union and try to side-track the issues into debates that are not and never were relevant to the Treaties. That said, when Europe begins to achieve economic and political union — as Séan Lemass said here some time ago — then consequences can follow, but not before. When Europe begins to be really a political entity then consequences can follow. But when we decide to introduce obligations which are excluded specifically, such as security, then we are turning not only against our stated policies but deliberately turning away from the stated policies of the Treaties of the European Community.

If the Taoiseach has that degree of conviction as a European, that does not always mean that one has to mince words in one way or another — he might first ask the British Government would they, at this late stage, join the European Monetary System. I attended the European Council at which that was launched in 1978. It is unacceptable that any member state should see itself in the privileged situation of having an association with an essential element of European development — which is what Britain claims to do at this point — while contributing, as the British Government are doing, to the weightings in the basket, to the weightings of the other currencies vis- á-vis each other. Through sterling they deposit their currency in the ECU basket but they are not part of the system. Is it not time it was pointed out that that kind of “in a bit, out a bit” is not consistent with membership of the European Community?

That was one significant development that took place in recent times. The other that should follow from that was the development of banking and loan facilities in the ECU and particularly in our case. Most of the less developed regions of the Community have one thing in common, that is, that the servicing of their debt to international banking is a major issue. If we are to avoid the disastrous consequences of policies we have seen the Minister for Finance pursue this year — in borrowing in dollars almost to the exclusion of other currencies — we should insist on the development of the ECU as an established European domestic currency. How can you have a union — about which we are told the Heads of Government will be talking — if it does not have even the beginning of a currency to identify that union? Such a currency unit — in this instance the ECU — would enable many of us who are determined to promote our economic policies within the European Union to work within a more manageable constraint and system where exchange and interest rates would be more effectively controlled. Those are two practical points on which the Taoiseach might concentrate.

I also ask him to concentrate on our relationship with the other member states because, outside of Europe, the Treaty of Rome recognised the obligation of the member states to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries in order to ensure the development of their prosperity. That was well over 30 years ago. I wonder what the ghosts of Schumann, de Gasperi, Paul Henri Spaak, the founding fathers would think now? The god figures are mentioned from time to time. I have heard them mentioned by people, who do not seem to have the commitment they had. They call down their names somehow to imply that they share their commitment. I wonder how those earlier Europeans — and we are proud to be part of the same European family — would feel about current developments?

How would they feel about the cosy chat that will take place in Milan over the weekend? Some voice must be raised to tell our European friends, as true Europeans, that it is time we stopped fooling ourselves with these continuous analyses, reports, committees, by whoever — it does not matter whether it is Dooge, Vedel, or whoever. All that has emerged from Europe in recent times is a litany of names. With 14 million people unemployed — which is twice what it was 14 years ago — with that part of Europe outside the European Community — Finland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland — experiencing economic growth of a kind that makes the European Community seem undeveloped can we say to our people here that Europe has been good for them in terms of the European Community? Could we not say perhaps that if it continues as it is those who are outside — Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland — were perhaps more fortunate because at least they engaged in consistent policies unlike the constant analyses and reporting in which our Taoiseach has been prone to engage? I wish him well but, before he goes, he should be prepared to answer to the others when they quote his speech against him.

There is one consistent theme in Fianna Fáil's speeches on the question of European Union and Irish unity, that is, a reluctance to accept that progress can be made, should be made, or should be allowed to be made while Fianna Fáil are not in Government.

I was disappointed with the tenor of Deputy O'Kennedy's speech — this reluctance to accept that objectives shared by many Members on his side of the House can legitimately be expressed and interests guarded by people on this side of the House, a tendency to attack and belittle the very well deserved European reputation of the Taoiseach. I feel confident that the interests of this country are in safe hands in the discussions taking place, that these interests will be married to a genuine concept of what the European ideal really means.

First, we should be grateful for the opportunity to have this debate, but not too grateful, because the way in which the House treats major European questions is nothing short of disgraceful. This debate — not through the fault of anybody in the Chamber at this time — is taking place far too late. The amount of time allocated to it is far too short — six hours with a very limited number of speakers to debate a matter which, while a decision is not imminent, nonetheless is of immediate importance. It is a subject which is of equal importance to our initial decision to join the European Community in 1972.

In 1972 this country held a great national debate on the merits of whether we should become members of the European Community. Right across the country, in farming and urban areas, in ICA halls, schools and universities, the debate took place with a very high level of information. When the people went to vote in the referendum in 1972 they did so probably as one of the best informed electorates in Europe on the implications of membership of the Community.

The changes which face the Community today, the decisions which will be taken, if not this year, over the next two or three years, in their own way are just as important as was the initial decision to join the Community. Unfortunately, this time there is no accompanying debate. The issue is almost being kept from the people as if European questions were too important for this House to discuss, that the matters are complicated and best confined to a small group of Euro experts. I certainly deplore this tendency and, like other speakers, I wish that the oft made call here for greater time and more regular debates on European affairs did not just become the platitude it is as far as those who organise time are concerned but would become a reality in the timetable in this House.

The question was raised as to whether or not politicians are interested and informed about the possibility of a European union. The answer to that, if we believe the spoken record of what our leaders of all parties have said over the past number of years, is that we are. From the very beginning of the decision to seek membership of the European Community every Taoiseach and every Minister for Foreign Affairs has stated unequivocally that we were joining the EC not in one final step in 1972 but that we saw ourselves as being fully committed to the letter, to the philosophy and to the spirit of the Treaty of Rome. From the beginning we have been committed to some ongoing concept of a European Union and to playing our full part. Every Taoiseach and every Minister for Foreign Affairs has made it very clear that this was not something without regard to price, that Irish interests would be guarded and that there was no question of rushing ahead to the detriment of vital national interests. Nevertheless, it is important to say to people who ask the question why we are discussing various concepts of European Union that what we are discussing has from the beginning been implicit in our decision to join the EC. We accepted it as it was, knowing that the founding fathers of Europe had made it clear that they were moving towards a concept of European Union. We should not be surprised because that was what we voted on and accepted in 1972.

Unfortunately the debate outside of this House up to now on European Union —the debate generated by the seminar in the Royal Hibernian Academy earlier this year and so on — has largely centered on the question of Irish neutrality and the belief put forward that any further move towards European Union by this country must inevitably damage our neutrality. This debate is not a debate about the concept of neutrality. Neutrality is an element, but not more than that. It is unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable, that the debate to date has focussed so much on this theme and has excluded the much bigger issues which are involved. Our obsession with this topic has certainly ruled out many of the wider and perhaps more significant long term issues.

There are very few subjects in Irish public life about which it is more difficult to have a rational informed discussion than that of neutrality. It is almost as difficult to have a rational discussion about it as it is to get agreement on a definition about what we mean by neutrality. Neutrality is not and never has been an essential element of our sovereignty. On the contrary it is because we are sovereign that we have the right to choose whether or not to be neutral. The other countries in the European Community are no less sovereign than we because they have chosen to align themselves with other European Community and non-European Community countries for their common defence. I would ask The Workers' Party whether or not the countries in the Warsaw Pact are any less sovereign because they too chose to align themselves. It is important to say to various groups, especially the Irish Sovereignty Movement, that the question of neutrality is not the same as the question of sovereignty and that it is because we are sovereign that we have the right to choose whether or not to be neutral.

We as a country have opted voluntarily for this policy of neutrality. It is a policy which has the support of all parties in the House and of a strong majority of the people. It is a policy which most people believe serves our best interests and it is a policy which we want to maintain. Our neutrality is something of which most of us are proud and which makes us different at a time when it is difficult to have any distinction between nations. But let us be honest and admit that when we define what we mean by neutrality that definition is very narrow. Our neutrality operates within strict confines. Unlike the neutrality of Austria, Sweden and Switzerland, ours is not a neutrality of strict observance. We are not prepared to pay in economic terms the cost which these countries pay to ensure that their neutrality is an active, vigilant one which cannot be infringed by any other country. We could not afford that, and we hope we will not have to do it; but the situation is that we have our neutrality on the cheap, to a large extent.

The vast majority of people in this House and the vast majority of people outside the House are not neutral in terms of ideology. We are not neutral between the values of the system of government and the countries in the Eastern bloc as contrasted with the values, however imperfect and flawed, enshrined in the Western parliamentary way of life. There is not much point in saying that there is not a difference between the democracies of Western Europe and the central democracy of the Eastern bloc countries and that the Irish people are neutral as to the values of the type of government involved. It is a verifiable fact that we are not. Nor can we say that we are economically neutral. Our economy is intertwined in every way with the economies of the other nine countries of Europe. For us to say that we are neutral in the way in which we were during the Second World War when we had no alignments of any kind is wrong because that situation has long since passed.

Our involvement in European political co-operation means that on very many issues our foreign policy is aligned with that of other countries by agreement. When during our Presidency of the European Community our ambassador to the UN stands up and speaks on agreed issues for the countries of Europe, that is hardly an indication to the rest of the world that Ireland is speaking there as a country with pristine neutrality and that we are isolated from political alignment with other European countries. We do it voluntarily, but it weakens the whole appearance and the reality of our concept of neutrality.

Even historically, looking at the attitude of Irish leaders in the past to neutrality, it has always been a question of pragmatism rather than a question of principle — from the earliest Government of W. T. Cosgrave to the Governments of Eamon de Valera. To a certain extent it was Eamon de Valera who invented and made a reality of our policy of neutrality. We should be extremely grateful to him for the way in which he steered us so adroitly and with such skill through the difficulties of the second World War. Even Mr. de Valera never went so far as to say that neutrality was an unalterable aspect of foreign policy and he never went so far as to say that we could never change that policy. We were neutral because it was in our best interests. It is ironic to hear that distinguished Irish statesman, Mr. Seán MacBride, talk of neutrality as if it were a immutable principle of Irish foreign policy for all time. The historical fact is that the only Minister for Foreign Affairs who ever contemplated having a defence agreement with any other country was Mr. MacBride during the 1948-1951 Government when he was prepared in the best interests of this country to enter discussions with the US about a bilateral defence agreement between this country and the US. It never got very far and it was just as well it did not. Nonetheless, I am illustrating the case I am making with the well known historical fact that when he was Minister for External Affairs, Mr. MacBride was prepared to treat Irish neutrality as something pragmatic which could be in some way— bartered is not the right word — become part of negotiations if it was in the best interests of this country.

It would be fundamentally wrong if this debate were to focus on neutrality, if European Union was to be equated with the abandonment of our neutrality. I am sure my colleagues here from the European Parliament who will be speaking later today will bear out very clearly that nobody in Europe wants us to abandon our neutrality or expects us to give up our neutrality, that it is not a burning issue in Europe, that if we are to be part of some new concept of European Union our neutrality which we value, which is distinctive and which has the agreement of all parties in this House, is something which we can maintain and keep, which may well even be of benefit in some further concept of European Union and emphatically is neither an obstacle not under threat.

The starting point here today for any discussion on European Union must be the fact that within the six founding members of the EC there is now a very strong determination to reform the structures of the EC and to expand its spheres of activity. This determination on their part to change is, as has been spelled out by other speakers, the result of a number of factors. The view is that some sort of European Union has always been inherent in the Treaties as being the ultimate goal. Perhaps, we in this country, with our sense of isolation from Europe and our lack of involvement in the world wars of this century, find it hard to grasp the fact that there is in the EC, in the midst of the everyday discussions of quotas, tariffs, the economy and convergence in the midst of all the crises, a genuine sense of idealism born perhaps out of the crucible of suffering of two world wars, a genuine commitment to some concept of European Union. This is there. It was there from the very beginning and is still a powerful driving force amongst some at least of the leading politicians of the EC.

There is also, leading towards some sort of European Union, a factor born out of frustration with the slowness of the decision-making process. The decision-making process is frequently close to paralysis. Indeed, at times one wonders how decisions are taken at all. In many ways the decision-making process is not working. Decisions which are urgent and vital are put off. The number of possibilities of blocking decisions are numerous and perhaps too easily availed of. We as much as others have availed of these possibilities and perhaps in many ways we have suffered more from the failure to reach agreement on issues of vital national interest to this country.

There is also the feeling amongst many of the leading members of the EC that unless Europe is revitalised, unless we can streamline the decision-making process, we will lose out in the vital areas, that unless we can move quickly in certain areas we will not be able to match the US and Japan in terms of markets. The Taoiseach was right to point out this morning the contrast between the economies of the US and Japan and those of most countries of Europe. Most of the leaders of the EC can point out areas where reforms are needed which would be of benefit immediately in the vital areas of creating jobs and increasing exports from the EC.

There is nothing very new in all of this. We have all been here before and, as Deputy O'Kennedy and other speakers have said, the way to European Union is paved with various reports, the reports of the Three Wise Men, the Tindemans Report and the most recent reports of Dooge and Spinelli. There is no shortage of blueprints or of pointing the way forward to European Union, but what is different this time is the determination of the Six to push ahead. Whether the other countries, ourselves included, agree or not, they intend to push ahead towards some concept of European Union. This is not bluff on their part. They are determined to put whatever pressure they must on the other member states and, if the other member states, the Four or the Six, are not willing to go ahead, not fully, not without compromise, discussion, agreement, the Six are determined to go ahead anyway and establish what has become known as a two-tier Europe with us very much on the outer tier, again with consequences which we have not explored. The only speaker of note who has attempted to examine in detail the implications of this for our country was John Temple Lang at a seminar in the Royal Hibernian Academy at Easter. If even half of what he said then is accurate —I believe it is — then the consequences for us, for the CAP and other aspects of our economy could be great.

The reasons why at this point of European and Irish history we are on the point of major decisions about European Union are very straightforward. What is not so straight forward, as the Taoiseach pointed out this morning, is to get an adequate definition of what we mean by European Union. We have had the reports. Each one has tried to spell out the elements of these reports. The Oireachtas Joint Committee examined the Spinelli Report and tried to find out the implications of European Union for this country.

In part the difficulty in trying to define what we mean by European Union is that many elements of it exist already. For example, most of these elements have come into existence in an ad hoc way. The addition year by year of new functions for the EC has meant that the Europe we joined 13 years ago is a very different Community from the Community today. Enormous developments which perhaps are obscured by everyday detail have occurred. If we look back now, 13 years later, on the Europe we joined on 1 January 1973 we find a very different Community. We have been moving step by step, sometimes two steps forward and one and a half steps back, towards some concept of European Union. We have common policies on agriculture, fisheries, competition, regional matters and the Social Fund. All of these are part of the infrastructure of European Union and, should there be European Union tomorrow, little would be different in these policy areas.

To a certain extent we are there although we do not quite use that term. The policy decisions, for example, would be taken at European level and they would be implemented at national or regional level with provision for variation or exemptions to suit national circumstances. That is true also, though not to the same extent, in the area of political co-operation. Therefore to this extent much of the prerequisite for European Union is there already. The argument now being put forward is that much of this has happened. Indeed, most of it has happened in an ad hoc, unplanned way.

There is duplication. Areas need to be improved and there is now, for a variety of reasons, a need to rationalise and bring the Treaties up to date. At the very lowest level that is what we mean when we talk today about European Union. The Treaties need to be updated to take into account the developments of the past 15 or 20 years.

We are fortunate that we have had a number of attempts to outline in detail what is meant by European Union. There was the Spinelli Report and now we have the Dooge Report. I will focus for the last part of this short contribution on the Spinelli Report because as chairman of the sub-committee of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities I chaired the committee which reported back to the Oireachtas on the implications of the Spinelli Report for this country. I regret very much that it is only now, many months later, that we are having a very truncated debate on this report.

The first reaction of the all-party group which examined the Spinelli Report was one of welcome. Whatever about the detail, there was a commitment to the whole idea of European Union and a recognition that this has always been the policy of all parties. There was obviously a desire too to safeguard our national interests. When we examined the Spinelli Report to see how European Union would affect this country we isolated a number of areas which could cause problems, but there was none which proved insuperable.

Perhaps the most dramatic one was the whole question of security and defence with which I have dealt already. I have made it fairly clear today — I think any fair-minded person would agree with me — that the maintenance of our policy of neutrality does not in any way act as an impediment towards our involvement in some form of European Union. There is an acceptance in the other countries of Europe that this is a policy which has the support of the vast majority of the Irish people, a policy which is not going to be changed and which is not in the way of our taking part in any new form of European Union. It would be great tragedy for this House and the country if the future debate were to centre on what is essentially a non-issue. It may suit groups of people outside this House or people inside this House to build up a paranoia about a threat to our neutrality and to see it as the undermining of something which has always been fundamental to this country. That would be wrong, mischievous and unhistorical and would do great damage to the real issues in this debate.

Some of the other points which worried members of the joint committee included the possible effects on this House and on our Government of greater powers for the European Parliament. Perhaps we were wrong, over-cautious and over-defensive. I believe greater powers for the European Parliament certainly constitute no threat to the ordinary backbench Member of this House — it would be difficult to take away from us what we have not got anyway. Greater powers for the European Parliament could be beneficial to the practice of the democratic process here. The committee report was unduly timid in the treatment of the dangers they saw in greater powers for the European Parliament. We saw certain dangers in an improvement of the decision-making process and especially the phasing out of the veto. On reflection I feel strongly that any analysis of the veto over the past 13 years will show that its existence has been more harmful to the real interests of this country than it has been beneficial in safeguarding our national interests. We could face a European Union based on agreement and trust in the absence of the veto without any great cause for worry or fear. This is something which will need to be teased out in very great detail.

I repeat that like many other Members I am angry that such a short amount of time has been given for this major debate. I feel sorry for those other speakers who wanted to make their contribution. The subject is of enormous importance. I hope this debate will simply be the beginning and that we will have the opportunity to spell out in detail the enormous implications of what is involved so that public opinion guiding our politicians will be informed and based on a full knowledge of what is best for this country through our membership of the European Community.

Mr. Noonan

(Limerick West): I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly on this report. It is important in certain aspects and it is a pity the House has not more time to deal with it in greater detail. There is much to be encouraged in this report but equally there is much that should perhaps sound alarm bells for anyone who fears that Ireland, its culture and traditions, will eventually be swamped in the sea of European Union. We must be very careful about this. Ireland has benefited from membership of the European Community, especially as regards agriculture. In return the Irish have consistently been good Europeans, upholding the principles of the Treaty of our accession and abiding by the rules of the club.

Although it was Fianna Fáil who led this country into Europe in the first place, there was always a hint of reservation in the party about the possible compromise such a move could entail. Successive Fianna Fáil Governments have fought hard to ensure that Ireland's unique position as well as its unique and cherished traditions and culture were safeguarded in any negotiations in Europe. Having read this report, I fear that many of those safeguards may be removed if the Council adopt this report in its entirety. I cannot see the Fine Gael Party objecting very strongly to it. The chairman of the ad hoc committee was Senator James Dooge, who could rightly claim to be at the heart of the Fine Gael Party.

As an Irishman who cares for and values Irish traditions and culture, I am gravely concerned when I read in the report that one of its main aims would be "the promotion of common values of civilisation" and of a "common cultural identity". This is all very worthy but I ask whether this would be at the expense of our national cultural identity. This is a question which should be considered very carefully. I am also concerned to read in section B.4 that the promotion of common cultural values and the European cultural identity requires measures to overcome any language barriers, the development of new media in a European-wide context and the elimination of obstacles to the free circulation of cultural goods and communication. Again these are worthy objectives, yet I cannot see how moves in these directions can do anything but harm to our native Irish language on which so much of our native culture is based and in which most of our heritage is written.

We have done more damage to it ourselves than the rest of Europe put together.

(Limerick West): I am sure Deputy Kelly will have an opportunity later to contribute to this debate. I should have an opportunity of making my contribution in my own way and of expressing my opinions and those of the party. Deputy Kelly is welcome to his views, everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. One of the principal aims of Fianna Fáil is to see the Irish language restored and we must not jeopardise that aim in any way.

God help us.

Mr. Noonan

(Limerick West): Already Europe has omitted Irish as a language of the Community and there is nothing in the Dooge Report to suggest that it will be any different in future. If obstacles to the free circulation of cultural goods and communications are eliminated, our censorship laws will not longer be enforceable. This might bring works of art and culture to Ireland which were not previously available but it would also open the door to pornography in books and films. films.


(Limerick West): If that is what greater European unity means, we must object to it.

As the Fianna Fáil spokesman on Agriculture, I welcome the efforts of the ad hoc committee to improve the decision making process in the Council. Year after year, Irish farmers have suffered great losses due to the failure of the Community's agricultural Ministers to reach decisions. Anything which speeds up the process of decision making would be welcome but I am doubtful if it is in our interests that the new general principle should be adopted whereby decisions would be made on a qualified or simple majority. For example, if this had been in operation when the milk super-levy was first threatened, the then Fianna Fáil Minister for Agriculture, Deputy MacSharry, would have been powerless to prevent its immediate implementation. Equally, of course, Britain would have been unable to pursue its stubborn stance on Community finances which paralysed decision making in Europe for some time.

Perhaps the qualifications in the report regarding a member state's very important interest would solve the problem, but to do so, those very important interests would have to be known and agreed to in advance. Otherwise, any member state could call a very important interest on any issue and slow up the decision making process once again. A workable method of agreement regarding what constitutes a very important interest would be essential if these proposals are to work. The proposal to speed up the decision making process is the only real and necessary one in the whole report. Pious aspirations remain just that but the problem of decision making will have to be tackled. It is ironic that it would probably take the Council a very long time to decide on new procedures in regard to decision making but that is the way of the European Community. Perhaps that is why there are 14 million people unemployed in an economic community which possesses all the means of eliminating unemployment. High minded Principles are all very well for the Eurocrats but unemployed people do not care about European unity if they cannot get a job. As the leader of our party said this morning——

We cannot get too much of a good thing.

(Limerick West): He said that the Taoiseach and Professor Dooge would be better advised to address their minds to the realities of their economic policies which have put 250,000 on to the dole queues. They are trying to divert attention to an impossible dream. European unity, which may come about at some stage but not in the immediate future.

I should like to concentrate on the political side of the report and to declare a general predisposition which I have always had in favour of closer European integration, and I mean political as well as economic integration.

I accept, as Deputy O'Kennedy said, that economic integration ought to be something which precedes political integration but I do not accept that, in the absence of one, one cannot benefit from the other. I do not see that logic of the suggestion that until we get parity of prosperity in all quarters of Europe, which is unlikely ever to be reached, it is premature to talk about political integration. Not only do I not see the logic in it, but a position like that seems to fly in the face of what are absolutely strident Irish priorities, or ought to be.

European integration or institutional linkage with the democracies of Western Europe is something of the greatest importance to us, not merely so that we can produce indefinite quantities of beef, mutton, milk and dairy products but also for the stability and future of the State. I remember the campaign in 1972 which culminated in the referendum in September of that year on adhesion to the European Economic Community as it was then called. The Taoiseach recalled this morning that the vote in favour of joining was about 83 per cent on a very high poll. uniquely high in a mere referendum, of 70 per cent. In other words, roughly 58 per cent of the entire electorate voted in favour of the move. That was a uniquely high consensus in Irish history. It was, of course, produced by the fact that this party, as well as Fianna Fáil, jointly recommended membership and the organisations of both parties were put into action, perhaps rather languidly, because there was no question of one trying to do down the other. The village competitiveness had gone out of the vote, so to speak, but it was a uniquely high poll. I believe the collaboration of the two big parties produced that big poll. Another factor which I have always thought helped in the production of a very high poll was the sight held up to the people by those interests who were saying to them, vote "no".

The Labour Party had an absolutely genuine, logical, clearcut and perfectly arguable case against membership. That party performed a major democratic service in arguing that case temperately, soberly, logically and bravely up and down the country. That party's service to the country on that occasion was something which, perhaps, contributed not in the electoral contest in 1972 but in 1973 to a good general election result for themselves. The responsibility they showed and the temperateness and logicality they showed in debating this issue contributed to a good election result for them in 1973. The same has to be said in regard to the temperateness and logic of some of the extra-parliamentary societies or individuals who did not believe in membership and who took the same line as the Labour Party and suggested voting "no". I have spent a length of time talking about the Labour Party because I want to make it clear that I do not associate the Labour Party with people who may find themselves accidentally on the same side of an argument, but I observed then, and anybody who can remember 1972 will recall, that every bully in Ireland also wanted the people to vote "no". Every subversive organisation that stinks so far as civilised democracy is concerned and every organisation that would pull this democracy in fitters if it got the chance was also on the side advocating a "no" vote.

One can find oneself on the same side of an argument with the strangest people and it is not the fault of the Labour Party that they happened to share that side of the platform with every bully in Ireland. The IRA of all shades were against it. Whatever communists there were in the country were against it and whatever further out bullies of either far Left or far Right there were, were against it. The reason why those people were against our membership of the EC was that it was in their interests to keep this country weak, friendless, isolated and at odds, so far as it could be done, with our European neighbours. It was in their interests in 1972 and it is far more in their interests today. The year 1972 was a time when the outlook for the country was very black. It is hard to measure degrees of blackness and I will not compare it with 1983 in every respect but it certainly was the worst year for violence in the North of Ireland that ever had been experienced. No year since then has come anywhere near it. Almost 500 people were murdered in one shape of from by one side or the other in the course of 1972 in the North. The year 1971 had been nearly as bad. The casualty figures have fallen steeply off.

It seems to me, and to many people who made up that huge plurality that went out and voted "yes", that everybody in whose interest it was to keep the pot stirred, to keep the country destablished, to keep it with its immunity and resistance broken down so that it would be an easy victim to revolution, was out urging the people to vote "no". We do not have exactly the same conditions in 1985 as we had in 1972 but the essential problems we faced then are still there and some of them have got worse.

The year 1972 was before the oil crisis and the great crisis in the European economies generally which resulted in huge inflation and unemployment figures, the crisis of confidence in the EC as to where it is going and, in particular, where it is going by comparison with the economies of America, Japan and other countries in the Far East. We still remain, even more so now because the EC is no longer as confident as it was, somewhat isolated, no longer, perhaps, friendless and not isolated. It is in the interests of this country to move politically nearer and nearer to the civilised parliamentary democracies of Western Europe and form as close a union with them as we can. It is in our interest and it should be in their interest not to allow this country to degenerate into the sick man of the West whose immunities have broken down and who forms a prime target for subversion and revolution.

Unaided, and relying on our own defences, I would feel a lot less secure than I would if I could be certain that I was part of a structure in which it was equally in the interests of somebody living in Jutland or in Sardinia that there should be civility, order and democracy here. I would be far less happy if we were left to defend that position on our own than if it were in the interests of another 250 million people that it should continue so.

Therefore, in general terms increasing political integration is of quite peculiar value to us. It is of a quality quite different from any value it may have for the Dutch or the Danes. They are not threatened in the same way as we are. They are not weak, geographically isolated, relatively defenceless with a very volatile population assailed by all kinds of troubles, chronic unemployment — structural unemployment the worst of the lot — and with the situation in the North of Ireland apparently never going to go away. Certainly, I do not have any solution for it, none that can be put into effect in the absence of a consensus of a kind which I do not see emerging in the House.

The geographical position of the country has a second disadvantage which I regard as of some importance in regard to making a judgement about political integration. Our isolation results in us being mentally, intellectually and culturally somewhat isolated. It results in our having a scale of values which other people find hard to understand, which appear to them to be even somewhat childish. I do not think one should run one's life in deference to other people's opinions and I have said that very often in the House in regard to our looking over our shoulder at the British but many of the things we do not say, many of our attitudes of mind seem absolutely childlike, impossible to explain to anybody not alone the British. In fact, the British are more likely to have some sympathy for them than anybody else because they live quite near and have had a taste for themselves for many hundreds of years. One is perhaps likely to find more sympathy or understanding for the peculiar Irish mind there than on the Continent. Certainly nowhere outside our shores can some of our attitudes be understood. We are absolutely isolated and deprived of measures of reality with which other people have to live.

Deputy Noonan is a Member with whom I have civil and friendly contacts. I meet him in the lift occasionally and we pass the time of day. I have never had the faintest bit of trouble with him. I hope he did not mind me interrupting him uncouthly a few minutes ago. I have no wish to offend him even though he is not in the House any longer. However, when I heard him say something it brought me back to the days when I was first a Member 12 years ago when there were a couple of elderly Deputies, now gone, who breathed the last enchantments of the nineteenth century in their speeches with their romantic evocations of conditions which, perhaps, might have raised the blood pressure of my grandfather or greatgrandfather but certainly is no longer able to raise mine.

I heard Deputy Noonan talking about our unique cultural heritage and our unique Irish language. I do not mean to point at him in particular but he was the person who mentioned it. In my years in the House I rarely heard him open his mouth in any language but never in Irish. I do not know what his grip of the thing is or how much interest he has in it. I am willing to suppose he has no less than anybody else but that is not a lot. What is a Dutch man to make of his complaint that Irish has not been made one of the Community's official languages? The Dutchman, if he is the Dutchman I have met, will say: "Where is it in your personal scale of priorities? Do you speak it yourself? Say a few words for us in Irish that will not just be the Our Father or the Apostles Creed that you may have learned off in school. Translate the conversation we had about the abominable meal we had in the railway station in Milan into Irish off the top of your head like a good man until I hear what the thing sounds like." I do not believe that he, like a lot of other Members, would be glad to be asked such a thing. Why then does he expect the Dutchman or Greek to take seriously pleas of that kind? It would not have crossed my mind to mention that, were it not for the fact that I heard this bit of 1927ish flim-flamery float across the House from a man who must have heard it when he was a small child from Dev who at least believed this stuff.

Dev at least believed what he was saying and went to some lengths to practise it, but they did not extend to forcing his followers to do so. He was willing to put up with the most perfunctory observance from them. As I said, he believed what he said and went to some length to practise it, and it rubbed off on the young Deputy Noonan. I can see him in his short trousers, with the wind whistling across the square of Newcastle West listening to Dev speaking from the back of a lorry and saying to himself that if he wanted to get on in politics he would occasionally have to take off his cap to the Irish language and refer to its status as a unique, cultural asset and inheritance.

That is the kind of talk no one outside these shores can understand because it does not come across as serious talk. The stranger judges us by what we do. What he sees when he comes to Ireland on holiday or on a business trip is the cultural situation. I mean "cultural" in a general sense and not just the language we speak but the way we live which, to his eyes, is barely distinguishable from what happens in England. There are the some boring rows of boring semi-detached houses, the same interests, the same sports, the same slang and jargon. We use expressions like "no way" and "hopefully", which nobody used 15 years ago, because the English do. He will see the same type of clothes, the same manners, the same places to go on holiday, the same standards of everything.

Where is this priceless heritage? I mention this only as an example of the awful isolation which our geographical situation forces on us. The sooner we get integrated in Europe and send streams and cycles of our young people to live there the better. Eventually some of them will come back bringing with them skills and experience and, above all, a scale of values, a tariff of the importance of things, not necessarily taking over holus bolus from a German or a Greek, but a tariff which will at least represent a modification of this peculiar Irish mentality in which sanctimonious hypocrisy, unreality, the willingness to know one thing but to believe, or pretend to believe, are such significant parts. That form of mentality works detrimentally to us in industry, agriculture, industrial relations and in politics.

The more we can integrate with people who will give us a standard to measure our own way of doing things, which will enable us to see when we are talking seafóid, which will enable us to understand that we have been preaching something that is not a viable proposition, that will provide some standard by which we can measure our own beliefs, and perhaps modify them, the more we will benefit from it intellectually and even spiritually but certainly industrially, commercially, agriculturally and politically.

It is important to regard Europe as one country in order to get rid of the fetish we have of working anywhere save at the end of our own boreen. As I said many times, the EC was founded not just to sustain a Common Agricultural Policy and provide us with an endless market for a limited number of products, but to provide mobility of capital, establishment and labour. We are not interested in these things. We are not interested in the fact that in north-western Europe, the richest part of Europe, there is a sinking population which could provide job opportunities for our young people provided they are properly trained, have skills or are not dumb and incompetent when they get there.

Instead of grasping these opportunities we say the scourage of emigration is here again. It is a scourge, a shame and a disgrace if all we can provide by way of equipment is what the young boy can take in a fibre suitcase on the boat to Euston, hoping he can sleep in the corner of somebody's bedroom for a couple of weeks and, as likely as not, ending up as a social casualty. That type of emigration is a curse as was the emigration at the time of the Queenstown Wakes. Parents knew they would never again see their children who were emigrating across the Atlantic. If they survived that crossing and the trauma of trying to get established, they never hoped to rise above the level of a navvy or domestic servant. They never hoped they would earn the money to come back to Ireland, let alone settle down here in comfort. These things were curses.

We ought to see Europe as a place which can be reached in 90 minutes. I am not talking about the price of air fares. That is another day's work. All I am saying is that the social disruption occasioned by migration — it does not have to be permanent — to some other part of Western Europe is nothing compared to what it once was. It is wicked to continue to speak of emigration in those terms. It is wicked for a politician to keep this fetish alive in the minds of young people that they are failures if they do not find work in their own townland. It also is wicked to pretend that a Government have a duty to so distribute industry that there is a little factory at the end of every boreen. This is the kind of things politicians when in Opposition pretend a Government should be doing. There is no such obligation on any Government. How do the Italians or the Greeks feel about this? They are as proud as we are. They do not consider it a humiliation that millions of their people work in central and northern Europe, earn good money and the majority eventually come home. They do not consider that a curse. They consider they are damn lucky to have the chance to belong to a Community which cannot erect walls against them.

My last comment bears on this bogey about neutrality. I heard it reported on the wireless at lunchtime that Deputy Haughey said the Government were not defending our traditional policy of neutrality with sufficient conviction. I want to say two things about that. First, I have never heard in a private meeting of the Fine Gael Party, or when I was in Government, or on the Front Bench in Opposition, either the Taoiseach or any other Member of the Front Bench say one word which would lead me to think that they are not sincere in speaking about a policy of neutrality.

I want to declare myself as being in dissent from them. I see nothing in what we call our traditional policy of neutrality and I do not see how anyone could defend it with conviction. I have thought that ever since the fifties when I used to hear partition being trotted out as a reason for our inability to join a military alliance. At that time it was said that we could not join such an alliance because it would be an implicit recognition of the Border. If we do not implicitly recognise the Border, why keep a customs post at every Border crossing? If we want to pretend it is not there, why not allow people to come and go as they wish and not exercise excise controls? In other words, we use it when it suits it and ignore it when it does not. I hated that hypocrisy in the fifties. I hate is just as much in the eighties that we have a traditional policy of neutrality because it is thought we would be likely to influence the outside world more if we were neutral.

We are members of UNIFIL in the Lebanon. So too are the French, the Canadians and the Italians, and yet they find it possible to collaborate on Western defence. Are they any less acceptable as a peace keeping force as a result of that?

When I hear Deputy O'Kennedy saying that we have a deep commitment to Europe and hear the talk about culture, I do not reach for my revolver, I reach for my sick bag. What is our commitment to Europe worth? The only commitment I ever hear talked about in this House is our commitment to ensuring that we can squeeze every last dollar while contributing the absolute basic rockbottom minimum. When I say that, I am talking about money. As far as any other contribution is concerned, we are very free with talk. We will go to meetings, collaborate on reports, provide chairmen for committees, but is our commitment worth a damn to anybody if it means that we will not lift one finger to protect the values we are talking about, things which make Europe up, which lie behind this ancient, shared civilisation and which are under threat as we know?

That is not to say that one defends everything that the Americans do. Of course not. One cannot do that, just as in any human relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, one accepts the faults as well as the good points, as one hopes will be done in one's own case. I am not under any illusions about the Americans. Putting the very best gloss one can on it, one can say that their behaviour is insensitive and one could say a great deal worse about it. However, we have to make choices in this life and it is a lie and a hypocrisy to pretend that it is a matter of indifference to us in this country as to who would come out on top in a global confrontation. God forbid that we shall ever live to see such a thing. If we had not had that confrontation — and Europe has now survived for 40 years without a major war in European territory — it is because of the will of the western democracies, many on the European Continent, to defend those values and to defend them with their fists.

The IRA do not like to hear me saying that and neither does Deputy Mac Giolla. Every subversive organisation whose interest it is to weaken a country, make it vulnerable, leaving it a prey to revolution, does not like to hear that being said. However, it has to be said. I do not think that I have any adherents in my party, although I have a few tacit fellow travellers who are not very significant, but I want to acquit the Taoiseach and the Government entirely of complicity with me — however ludicruous the idea is when I put it like that — in my opinions on this matter. However, I do meet many people from time to time who say that they agree with my point of view and that it is a pity more people do not think it. I believe that people in this House do think it and it should be said.

Every other small country in western Europe started out in 1939 like us, neutral. Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway and Greece wanted to remain neutral. They remained neutral until they were over-run. They learned their lesson. When the war ended in 1945, there was no more talk about neutrality. The smallest of them, even Luxembourg, was willing, with greater or lesser degrees of willingness or reluctance — despite cuts, money, inconvenience, national service, all these things — to join the western defence in some shape or form. I do not suppose that a Dutch politician wants wholeheartedly to endorse everything the Americans do in Central America. I do not suppose that one would get applause in the Danish Parliament for American policy in Central America. However, these people are levelheaded. They do not have the magical, holy insights of the sanctimonious Pats. They do not think that they are wiser than everyone else, able to have it both ways, able to preach their commitment while not risking a halfpenny or the end of a finger to defend it. They do not think like that; they are made of lesser clay than we are and have much simpler ways of approaching things. They just say, by and large, if a confrontation arose which involved Europe, if it ended with the defeat of the western powers there would be nothing left in Europe but a wilderness. What would be left in this country would be a population reduced materially to the poverty of the 1840s and to the political servitude of the 1740s, if not the 1640s.

Nobody gets at me to say these things. I am not in the pay of anybody. In fact, I have never had any such approach in regard to anything that I have said in this line at all. I do not belong to any group and nobody corresponds with me on this subject. I do not advocate any special mode of defensive alliance. I am not advocating NATO membership. I do not know enough about it to warrant having an opinion on the subject. All I advocate is that we should shrug off this fetish about our traditional policy of neutrality. It should be thrown in the bin, along with the twin national objectives of our priceless cultural heritage and our unique spiritual empire. This is all rubbish, cottonwool which prevents the mind of the ordinary Irishman from working. It is a substitute for thought. These things should be discarded. We should look at the matter soberly. There may be contexts in which it may make sense to be neutral, but there may well be conflicts in which it makes no sense and is inimical to our self-respect as well as to our selfinterest.

I am glad to have the opportunity to congratulate Senator Dooge on producing this report under most extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I read and studied it very carefully. Like everybody else, I have a point of view on it. I want to pay tribute in this House to the exceptional energy which Senator Dooge put into leading this group of very senior European politicians and into presenting this report.

Having said that, this debate is basically a European debate and because I hold a dual mandate I have an opportunity of taking part in it. Other members of the European Parliament have no opportunity of attending in the Dáil or in the Seanad to put forward their views on this subject. I have written to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, asking them to consider allowing members of the European Parliament to address the Dáil and the Seanad in certain circumstances dealing with matters relevant to Europe. I hope that there will be all-party agreement to that, so that when we reach the stage where there is no such thing as a dual mandate — and I hope, frankly, that will be very soon — we will be able to debate these matters.

I have a great admiration for the manner in which Deputy Kelly addresses himself very colourfully to various subjects which come before this House. He refers to the isolation in which we here appear to be living. Apparently, he denigrates our cultural heritage, or does not recognise that we have one. Those who can speak the Irish language are, apparently, people who are not as cultured perhaps as he thinks he himself is. Of course, we are isolated from Europe, by Britain and by two seas. It makes it more difficult for us Members and the citizens of this country, because of the expense and otherwise, to travel abroad and see what is happening in these areas. While we might have some difficulty in this area, we are rapidly becoming too closely associated with the materialistic approaches taking place in Europe.

In France, Germany and Belgium the birth rate has fallen to half a child per family. Children are a rarity there and families are breaking up at a very rapid pace. Children are replaced by dogs, if you do not mind. In France and Germany a dog is given place of honour at the table in a restaurant. Is this the kind of thing that we want to import into this country, where animals are replacing the family? I find that quite unacceptable.

Families here are not getting any bigger.

That may be due to economic circumstances. We may talk about that later. I wish to make it clear at the outset that I support absolutely the European Community. In passing, I wish people would stop calling it the Common Market as though it were Moore Street or some market in Belfast or elsewhere. I am glad that Spain and Portugal are about to join us. Their entry will lend a renewed vitality that is badly needed.

It seems strange that we should be talking about a united Europe at a time when Europe is divided in the ideological and military sense. Eastern Europe is dominated by the totalitarian Government of the Soviet Union. Czechoslovakia and East Germany are bristling with SS20s and SS21s that are aimed to destroy western Europe. In reply to that, America controls the weaponry of western Europe. They press the buttons; they decide our destiny. There are no dual control buttons on the Pershing and Cruise missiles in western Europe. While our neutrality may be military neutrality, certainly it is not ideological neutrality.

I have great admiration for America and what it did to restore Europe and save it from the eastern threat after the War. They did this by way of Marshall aid. Sometimes I wish President Reagan would consider a similar possibility in Central America where human rights problems are critical and where the attack on Nicaragua goes on unabated.

To me, neutrality is an option for peace and that is how we should view it. In The Irish Times of today's date we read that the re-elected Prime Minister of Greece, Dr. Papandreou, said that the two main foreign policy goals of his country are to work towards the unification of Europe and to banish US bases and nuclear weapons from Greek soil. The newspaper report continued:

On relations with the United States, he declared that his Government had a commitment to close the US bases when the present accord expires at the end of 1988, demonstrating the same determination as it had towards eliminating nuclear weapons from Greek soil.

If Dr. Papandreou and the Greek Government are so anxious to remove US weapons from their soil, are we not a lucky nation that we did not get involved in accepting them in the first place? Equally, I welcome the renewed commitment of the Greek Prime Minister to stay in Europe and to improve the situation on this Continent.

Of course, there are those who suggest that if one is critical of the violation of human rights on one side one is in a certain camp. There are those in the Government here who suggest that, if one takes a position of the Vatican II theology of liberation and the option for the poor, one is a leftie, a Marxist, or something of that kind. I do not think anyone could have accused Pope John XXIII of that. I do not think anyone could accuse the many missionaries in South East Asia, Africa or in Central or Latin America of being Marxist-Leninist because they support the theology of the Second Vatican Council. We should make that absolutely clear and I am delighted to have the opportunity to put it on the record of this House.

In times past I have seen the damage caused by that kind of suggestion from the Government about members of this party. I recall the history of the United States and the era of Senator McCarthy looking for "Reds under the bed" merely because they sought a centre ground between the left and the right. Any nation that aims for growth on its own loses out very quickly. Any nation trying to put its industry back on its feet by relying only on itself in the face of the industrial strength of the US and Japan will lose out and will have little chance of success unless it acts together with its partners.

The EC has had to weather the storm of the worldwide recession. Invitably certain member states refused to pull their weight and they created internal friction. Their selfish actions weakened the ability of the Community to unite together to see out the storm. The Community, with each of the member states, should now be forging ahead but, because of the eternal wrangling over budgetary matters, we have been forced to compete from behind for a top place in the international market. I believe we can make up lost ground if we rededicate ourselves to achieving the objectives of the EC Treaties.

The EC with its market of some 270 million people offers us the best hope of tackling the disastrous social and economic predicament in which this country finds itself, in common with other European countries. Many of the new goals that are being set can be achieved within the framework of the existing Treaties. As a member of the European Economic Community — and I emphasise economic — Ireland participates fully in the formulation of policies and in the taking of decisions in the economic and trading sectors which vitally affect our national interests.

At a time when the EC should be seeking to build on the targets it set itself in the Treaties, a totally unacceptable diversion has been set up to direct it into a security and defence Community. In the White Paper of January 1972 on "The Accession of Ireland to the European Communities" our position was made quite clear. That White Paper stated:

The Irish Government in applying for membership of the Communities declared their acceptance of the Treaties of Rome and Paris, the decisions taken in their implementation and the political objectives of the treaties. The Government have, furthermore, declared their readiness to join as a member of the enlarged Communities in working with the other member states towards the goal of political unification of Europe. It should, however, be emphasised that the Treaties of Rome and Paris do not entail any military or defence commitments and no such commitments are involved in Ireland's acceptance of the treaties.

The conclusions of the Dooge Committee have sent aftershocks rumbling through the Community. This committee which was set up to report to the European Council on institutional affairs has jeopardised Ireland's neutrality. Among the proposals put forward by the committee is one which states that during consultations relating to EC foreign affairs there should be a discussion on the way in which member states' security interest may be affected in the international context, in particular by developments in weapons technology and strategic doctrines, changes in relations between the great Powers and the progress of negotiations on disarmament and arms control.

The member states of the EC are democratic, that is, they believe in government by the people for the people. A full and open public discussion on what the Dooge Committee is proposing has been taking place and this must continue. The future direction of policies which will have a major impact on our affairs is being considered. It is essential that the issues put forward come out into the open.

It is proposed in the concluding paragraphs of the Dooge Report that an intergovernmental conference should be convened in the near future to negotiate a draft European union treaty. That report states:

The very decision of the Heads of State or Government to convene such a conference would have great symbolic value and would represent the initial act of European Union.

Such a decision may be taken within the next few days when the Heads of Government meet in Italy.

It is to be noted — I agree with what it says in The Irish Times— that the Taoiseach goes to Milan with a deserved reputation as a “good European”. I presume there are a few other good Europeans around apart from the Taoiseach. Most of us would consider ourselves to be good Europeans. I hope they will stop using that expression when referring to one person. The article in The Irish Times states:

... that is someone who sees real value in much closer integration in Western Europe, and who has had, in the past at least, the imagination to contemplate new forms of economic and political management that transcend traditional national sovereignties.

According to the article, the debates taking place in the Dáil and Seanad today on European integration have little chance of influencing the Taoiseach when he goes to Milan. "Slim in the extreme"The Irish Times calls it and I agree. This debate should have taken place within one or two weeks of the debate being published. All Members of the European Parliament who represent Ireland should have an opportunity to address themselves to the Dáil or Seanad when issues of this kind arise. That would be useful.

Our membership of the EC committed us to the Treaty of Rome, its objectives and provisions. Its aim was the formation of a common market. A common market it may well be but it is not a European economic and social market. It aims through the progressive approximation of the economic policies of the member states to promote throughout the community the harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, increased stability, an accelerated raising of living standards and closer relations between its member states. Very significantly for us it aims to reduce the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less favoured regions. Many of these aims we know have not yet been achieved. It is our task to see that they are achieved.

Based on the conclusions of the Dooge Committee, what type of new treaty would be drawn up? How would it compare with the existing treaty? While it is difficult to predict the outcome of an inter-governmental conference on the drafting of a new treaty, a conference in which the European Parliament may be closely involved, certain trends may be foreseen. In a number of key areas the report of the Dooge Committee and Parliament's Draft Treaty are very similar. Both texts are comparable where they propose that there should be majority voting in the Council and that unanimity should be retained only for certain exceptional decisions. This latter point is of major significance to Ireland. The proposals that the role of the Commission be strengthened follows the line taken by the Spinelli Draft Treaty. Both documents seek to reinforce the powers of control of the European Parliament in the field of external relations and that responsibilities be conferred on Parliament where revenue-related decisions are concerned.

I want to return for a moment to the need to reduce imbalances between the member states, an aim which is clearly identified in the existing Rome Treaty. It was a Fianna Fáil Government who negotiated a special Protocol of Accession for Ireland. This Protocol in no uncertain manner recognises that it is in the interests of the member states to see that policy of industrialisation and economic development, designed to align the standards of living in Ireland with those of other European nations and to eliminate under-employment while progressively evening out regional differences in levels of development, is implemented. What will be the status of this special Protocol 30 if a new treaty is drawn up? There was no reservation by Senator Dooge to the two paragraphs on the promotion of economic convergence. Such a reservation was left to the Greek member of the Dooge Committee. The Dooge text merely calls for the promotion of solidarity among member states aimed at reducing structural imbalances which prevent the convergence of living standards, through the strengthening of specific community instruments and a judicious definition of Community policy. It calls for positive action to counter inequality and promote the convergence of living standards.

The Greek representative, Mr. Papantoniou, argued correctly that the text should stress more explicitly the need to support policies aiming at economic convergence and should give a more comprehensive definition to their scope. Our Irish Chairman, Senator Dooge, voiced no objection to this imprecise and vague text. What confidence can we have that the Irish Government would seek to have an unequivocal re-statement of the aims of Protocol 30 reconfirmed in any new Treaty? We want a clear and unamibiguous commitment from the Community that it will be totally committed to reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions.

I put it to the House that there is no doubt that the existing Treaty of Rome has served Ireland well and will continue to do so. No Irish person need be reminded of the crucial role played by the Common Agricultural Policy in our economy. It is one of the cornerstones of the Rome Treaty. Between 1973 and 1983, the guarantee and guidance section of the Common Agricultural Policy were worth £3,109.95 million. In the Spinelli Draft Treaty the Common Agricultural Policy is relegated to a few indents under economic sectoral policies.

In the Dooge Report, there is a reference to the Common Agricultural Policy — as a footnote. The Danish representative stressed that all the measures in the agricultural area which have in recent years been introduced with the intention of renationalising the Common Agricultural Policy should be dismantled. Where do the Irish Government stand on this issue? What would a new treaty do to agriculture? These questions must be addressed to the Government. We have no doubt where we stand on that issue but there is some doubt as to where the Government stand.

In the European elections last year in our election platform we clearly stated our position of a policy of positive neutrality. I stress military neutrality for the information of the Taoiseach. In recent times it has been suggested that European political co-operation, that is, the EC's foreign policy, should be extended to military affairs. Fianna Fáil are totally opposed to this. Fianna Fáil are opposed to any involvement in either military or defence matters by EC institutions. This opposition is rooted in our status as a member state which does not belong to any military alliance. Our military neutrality must be presented in the Communities as an aspect of a policy of positive neutrality. Our status of not belonging to any military alliance enables us to back without equivocation the right of all nations to self determination, be it in Afghanistan, Central America, Poland, Lithuania, Guatemala or Chile.

The footnotes of the Dooge report when dealing with the question of security and defence state that Senator Dooge did not agree to the inclusion of this section. This section stresses the need for an Atlantic Alliance to maintain adequate military strength in Europe and developing and strengthening consultation on security problems as part of political co-operation. Why did Senator Dooge not enter reservations earlier in the report to other references to security? In the first chapter on "A Genuine Political Entity", that is, a European Union, the Danish representative on the committee considered that the reference to security should be limited to the political and economic aspects of security. Senator Dooge entered no such reservations here, nor on the section dealing with "An External Identity" which describes "security" as a fundamental aim of European Union.

Senator Dooge thereby implicitly accepts that the proposed political union should deal with the military aspects of security. As he represented the Taoiseach on this committee, this must also reflect the Government's position: if not, I should like to have that made clear.

Just how much further is Ireland to be led down the road towards abandoning our traditional neutrality at the behest of those who are clearly prepared to go much further?

We have a major unemployment problem courtesy of the Coalition Government. We have a major crime wave which the Coalition are mishandling. Government borrowing is out of control. Our shipping industry has been allowed to collapse. More and more people are falling into the poverty trap. Let us not be deflected down the sacrificial path of lost neutrality. This country and the European Economic Community have business to do. We must step up our efforts to create jobs, to reduce the economic and social differences that exist between the member states. There are policies to create for new technologies, food processing, energy, forestry, construction, research and development, aid for the homeless and the disadvantaged. In short we need an economic relaunching of Europe backed up with adequate resources. We need to build on the aims of the existing EC treaties. We have had enough reports from the time of Spinelli and before him and now another. What is needed is a re-examination of our commitment to a totally united Europe, a Europe that could be united from east to west but before then let us not forget, when talking of European unity, that we have a divided Ireland, a country occupied by a member of the Community, that there is a Germany divided, east and west and which epitomises the results of the tragedy of the last war.

I can only suggest that when a debate of this kind is to take place here again, all of us who are members of the European Parliament are given the opportunity to contribute. I suggest also that any such debate should take place well in advance of the Taoiseach taking off for a summit at which the issue in question is to be discussed. He is going to Milan, not knowing what is happening because of his not being involved personally in the debate. It is regrettable that he should be going away without taking careful note of what is being said here during this debate.

I wish to object formally to the totally inadequate amount of time that has been allocated to discussion of this important business. I was one of the first in my party to indicate my wish to contribute to the debate. While I am prepared to concede to my colleagues, I am entitled to register my objection. It is a scandal and something which smacks of jackboot tactics to allow only six hours for a debate of this kind when all those Deputies who are members of the European Parliament have the right to contribute in addition to others who are offering. Though I indicated last week my wish to contribute I shall not now be able to speak on this matter on which I have very strong views. We have heard much today about the loss of our neutrality but what the Irish people do not know prior to the talks in Milan is that Article 42 of this draft treaty——

Does the Deputy intend making a contribution?

What the people do not know is that Article 42 provides that the laws of the union shall be given directly to the states.

Is Deputy O'Donnell giving way to Deputy Glenn?

If Deputy Glenn were in the European Parliament she would have to make her contributions in two minutes.

I wish to emphasise that Article 42 of the draft treaty——

I wish also to raise my objection in this matter.

Deputy Glenn must conclude. Will the Deputy please resume her seat?

The Irish people are being denied the information to which they are entitled.

Aontaím leis an chuid is mó atá ráite ag an Teachta Alice Glenn. Is mór an trua nach bhfuil níos mó ama againn chun ceist chomh tábhachtach leis seo a phlé. Ar an dtaobh eile den scéal bhí na ráitis inniu an-fhada ar fad — 30 nóiméad. I bParlaimint na hEorpa ní bhíonn ach trí nó cúig nóiméad ag gach Teachta chun labhairt. I ndíospóireachtaí mar seo i bParlaiminte na hEorpa bíonn dhá nóiméad ag gach Teachta. Labhair mé uair amháin agus ní raibh ach nóiméad amháin agam.

Fáiltím roimh an deis seo atá tugtha do Dháil Éireann chun an cheist an-tábhach-tach seo a phlé, ceist Aontas na hEorpa sa todhchaí. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhgháirdeas a dhéanamh, ní amháin mar Theachta Dála ach mar bhall de Pharlaimint na hEorpa chomh maith leis an Seanadóir Jim Dooge as ucht na hoibre iontaí atá déanta aige chun an tuarascáil atá curtha le chéile aige a chur chun dea-críche. Chomh maith leis sin fáiltím roimh an ráiteas a thug an Taoiseach maidin inniu. Léirigh sé go sóiléir na ceist-eanna, na fadhbanna agus na rudaí eile atá á bplé ní amháin sa Pharlaimint seo ach i ngach Parlaimint náisiúnta ar fud na hEorpa faoi láthair.

I am pleased that the Dáil has the opportunity of this major debate on such an important issue. There is merit in what has been said by Deputy Glenn. It is regrettable that because of the pressure on time and the large amount of business that has to be concluded between now and the summer recess, more time could not have been given to this debate. However, perhaps the Dáil might follow the example of the European Parliament where, as I have said already, the average speaking time available to a member is from three to five minutes.

On one occasion I made a speech in the European Parliament which lasted one minute while Deputy Andrews spoke recently for two minutes. Perhaps in the context of the whole question of the reform of the Dáil, this is an aspect that might be considered. The advantage of such a restricted speaking time is that it disciplines members to concentrate, in the short time available to them, on the main points of an issue.

The issue being debated today in this Parliament concerning the latest proposals for European Union are of the utmost importance to the future of Europe and of every member state. These proposals have vital and far-reaching implications for this small country which is on the periphery of the Community. The final decision on these proposals will have a profound effect on the lives and fortunes of our people and on the people of Europe as a whole for many years to come.

It is appropriate and perhaps timely also that this debate on the question of European Union should be taking place throughout Europe after the passing of a quarter of a century since the signing of the Treaty of Rome and on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the ending of World War II.

It is appropriate and timely that we should be discussing European Union in the week following the signature by Spain and Portugal of the Treaty of their Accession to the EC. I might express the hope that the debate now taking place here and in other national Parliaments throughout the Community will help to forge new links between national Parliaments and the European Parliament. I am convinced that these links must be strengthened.

Those of us who still retain the dual mandate have the privilege of speaking in our national Parliaments but the vast majority of MEPs do not have such opportunity. It is impossible for any individual to discharge a dual mandate effectively and indefinitely. I believe some system must be devised which will ensure close and continuous liaison between the European Parliament and national Parliaments. For that reason I am still in favour of granting the privilege to single mandate members of the European Parliament of addressing their national Parliaments on special occasions such as this.

In advocating better liaison between national Parliaments and the European Parliament, I contend that such would contribute to creating greater public awareness of the importance and significance of EC membership to the lives and fortunes of our people. We are all only too well aware of the great need for creating well informed public opinion on Community matters. The establishment of closer links between national Parliaments and the European Parliament, and providing opportunities to members of the European Parliament to address the Dáil, Séanad or both Houses on special occasions, will help to overcome the problems of the irrelevancy in the eyes of the ordinary citizen of the EC and of the European Parliament.

I wish to pay a very special tribute to Senator James Dooge on the outstanding work he has done and on the brilliant manner in which he has discharged the very important, onerous and difficult task assigned him in chairing this special committee on European Union. The widespread and favourable acceptance and response throughout the Community to the Dooge report is a tribute to his ability and his hard and patient work. I hope that his work and that of his other colleaguse on the committee, who compiled the report we are now discussing, will bear fruit at the forthcoming Milan Summit.

I believe the Dooge report identifies the real issues and pinpoints the problems confronting the Community at present and in the immediate future. More importantly, it clearly signposts the road ahead. Let there be no mistake about it. The European Community is now, and has been for a considerable time, at the crossroads. If we take one road it will lead to continued stagnation, political, economic, social and financial. The EC has for some time now been drifting from crisis to crisis, a Community which, until two weeks ago, was unable to formulate a budget for the current year. Let us be honest and realistic about this. The EC can have no future if it continues along this road, drifting from crisis to crisis, trying to find ad hoc solutions to immediate problems with no proper long-term planning and no adequate system of long-term financing. The Community has been travelling that road for far too long. Those of us who are Members of the European Parliament are only too well aware of this drift from crisis to crisis. In December last the European Parliament rejected the 1985 budget because it covered ten months only of the year 1985. No Parliament or Government could accept a budget which made provision for ten months only. Following a decision taken by the European Parliament a couple of weeks ago we now have a budget for the current year. I believe that if this Community is to survive, if it is to make progress but above all, if it is to have real meaning for the people who belong to it, there is no other option but to travel the road signposted by the Dooge report.

The EC today is faced with serious financial, economic and social problems. With massive unemployment the Community has failed to formulate realistic policies which could even begin to attempt to tackle the problem of the 14 million people unemployed within the Community. However, the real significance of today's debate — I say this very sincerely and very much welcome the clear presentation by the Taoiseach this morning — is the vital issues facing the Community at this critical moment in its history. I and most of my colleagues should be glad that the Taoiseach in that presentation put the various issues in their proper perspective and order of priority.

In recent months almost every discussion on the subject of European Union seems to have been dominated by the neutrality controversy. I had the privilege of participating in an open forum at the Fine Gael Árd Fheis. As soon as the panel had made their introductory speeches, the first question that arose was neutrality. In the media in particular this aspect of European Union has been highlighted on numerous occassions. This is a most important and vital question, but there are other equally important and fundamental questions confronting the Community at present which have not received the attention they deserve. I am very glad the Taoiseach spelled out very clearly Ireland's position in relation to defence and security in his remarks here this morning.

The paragraph I shall now quote was crystal clear, leaving no room for misinterpretation and read as follows:

In the discussion of these matters Ireland finds itself in a different position from its partners, all of whom are members of the North Alantic Alliance, while Ireland is neutral. It should be made clear that no other Government have put any pressure at any time on us on this issue of neutrality. Persistent reports to the contrary are quite simply inventions. No one should allow themselves to be fooled by this propaganda.

Then the Taoiseach referred to the fact that Senator Dooge could not accept the section on security and defence in the report and said that Senator Dooge was reflecting the position of the Government. He said further:

Irish policy in this regard is both understood and accepted by our partners. In discussion of the report's proposals, we will continue to take the line that there are subsisting and valid distinctions between these aspects of security that are appropriate to political co-operation and those, such as operational defence questions, that are appropriate to alliance frameworks.

I concur with the Taoiseach's final remark vis-á-vis this question of security and defence when he said:

The fact is that our country's position in this matter is known to and understood by our partners and no question arises in this context of any change in the Government's commitment to maintain Ireland's neutral position of non-membership of military alliances.

I was anxious to put this comment by the Taoiseach on the record in the light of the controversy that has been going on. I suspect that a lot of this is purely propaganda and it is deliberately provocative. I and my colleague, Deputy McCartin, who is a member of the same political grouping in the European Parliament, have had no problems in gaining acceptance and understanding from our colleagues from different countries on our special position vis-á-vis neutrality. Three weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the bi-annual conference of the European Christian Democratic Party. Twenty one political parties in Western Europe were represented at that conference. President Colombo, the President of the European Union of Christian Democrats, on the concluding morning of the conference referred to Ireland's special condition. It was also spelled out at the beginning of the conference by Mr. Andreotti, the Italian Foreign Minister. I am glad the Taoiseach gave the lead in the manner in which he presented his address this morning.

Many important issues have been raised in the Dooge report and these issues are becoming more and more serious as times goes on. It is well known to members of the European Parliament that the question of the future financing of the Community the question of own resources, the question of the veto and the question of the role of the Commission and of the role and powers of the European Parliament are vital issues. The Taoiseach dealt with these this morning. I will not monopolise the time because my colleague, Deputy Joe McCartin, has come back from Brussels especially to participate in this debate and I propose to share some of my 30 minutes with him so I am prepared to lose the opportunity to present a speech which I have been preparing in the last few days.

In relation to the question of own resources, the failure of governments to take appropriate decisions in relation to VAT and so on has created a ludicrous situation. It is a waste of time to talk about European Union unless an appropriate system is formulated to ensure adequate financing of the Community in the years ahead to enable the Community to formulate and implement appropriate regional policies, social policies, research and development policies and so on. We should not have this hit and miss situation year after year with totally inadequate financial resources available to implement appropriate policies.

In relation to the decision making procedures referred to in the Dooge report and referred to by the Taoiseach this morning, every member of the European Parliament knows only too well the dire need to streamline the decision making processes. I have been a member of the Transport Committee since 1979. The Transport Committee is a very good committee with a good chairman. Numerous reports were produced by that committee and no action was taken by the Council of Ministers. The Transport Committee, with the full approval of the European Parliament, had in the past year to take the unprecedented and radical step of bringing the Council of Ministers before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. While this was looked upon as being a gimmick, a preliminary judgment of the court was issued in recent weeks and has upheld the rights of the parliament to bring the Council to the Court of Justice and the final judgement will, I presume, be made available to us in due course.

The question of the veto has been raised and in the few moments available to me I can do no more than to refer to what the Taoiseach said this morning in his speech when he stated:

But overall we should be the net gainers if, in respect of the internal market, decisions could be blocked only by a country which does in fact have an objectively verifiable vital national interest — a situation which it is now generally recognised will have to be provided for by some solemn procedure of invocation that will discourage its use except in cases where there really is a vital national interest.

That is something with which I thoroughly agree. In the light of what I have seen in Europe since 1979 I could not give a carte blanche in relation to completely abolishing the veto; but the formula proposed by the Taoiseach, which says that a vital national interest must be determined by objective criteria, is an acceptable solution.

The question of the super-levy on milk, on which the Government did a tremendous job, was a vital aspect for us because of the importance of the dairy industry to our economy. I am not so sure that the action by the West German Government two weeks ago of applying the veto in relation to cereals could be regarded in the same way as a vital national interest to the West German economy which is that of a highly advanced industrialised nation. There must be some formula to ensure that the veto is not used to hold up decision making for months and years. I agree with the Taoiseach's approach to this.

I also agree that the powers conferred on the Commission by the Treaty must be fully restored. These have been eroded in recent years and more and more initiatives seem to be taken by national governments than by the Commission.

I have been involved in regional policy since 1979 and I have the privilege of being spokesman on regional policy for the European Christian Democrat Group. Reference was made in the Dooge report, in the Taoiseach's speech and in the speech this morning by the Minister for Labour, Deputy Quinn, to the need for a massive transfer of resources and to the danger of a free-for-all internal market situation where the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. In the context of a European Union, the formulation and implementation of a realistic regional policy is of vital importance. Such a policy must be backed by adequate financing. The Minister for Labour referred this morning to the introduction of the Mediterranean plan. I had the privilege of being involved in the regional policy committee over the last six years in the formulation of this plan. It was one of my best friends in the parliament and one of my party colleagues, Dr. Hansgert Pottering, who produced a major report on the Mediterranean programme for the parliament.

Deputy O'Donnell——

Deputy Quinn, the Minister for Labour made a point that the same type of approach to the problems of the Mediterranean need to be applied in the north-west. He referred to Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Give me two minutes, A Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I am just concluding. I usually keep to agreements in that way. I will give my colleague, Deputy McCartin, ten minutes.

No, it is gone. The Deputy has used all his time.

I am sorry about that because I was informed in the Whips' office that I would get in at about 6.10 p.m. and the Minister would come in at 6.30 p.m. Is that right?

That is correct. It is 6.20 p.m. now.

The Deputy started before 6 p.m.

Let there be no cause for a row there.

If he sits down nobody is coming in.

And Deputy Andrews has spoken. Deputy Quinn, Minister for Labour, advocated the application of the concept of the Mediterranean plan to north-western Europe and particularly to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I agree fully with that and I am in the process at the moment of formulating a motion for resolution for the European Parliament in the session in Luxembourg in a fortnight advocating this very thing.

Mar fhocal scoir, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, is mór an trua nach bhfuil níos mó ama againne, ach tá súil agam go mbeidh deis eile ann sar i bhfad chun díospóireacht eile a bheith againn maidir le imeachtaí na hEorpa go háiraithe leathnú na hEorpa as ucht teacht isteach an Spáinn agus an Phortaingéil.

Deputy McCartin, to conclude at 6.30 p.m.

Could I not get a minute or two past that? My blood pressure was rising and I am extremely annoyed because I was engaged in Brussels for the last two days full time and I tried to arrange things so that I could get away this morning. I threw away a ticket which I had bought because I could not change it. I begged at a desk in London to please give me a flight half an hour earlier to enable me to get here to speak on this subject, and I find I have been given about seven minutes. Furthermore, I have been begging for the last 12 months to get this subject discussed and not only the Dooge report but the draft treaty. I have not been attending to my duties in this Parliament as regularly as I should because of my commitments in other places and in my constituency also, but if I had I would have made much more noise about the failure of those people in authority who have the right to do it and, I must say, people in my political party. to provide time in this House for a reasonable and sensible debate on what I regard as the most important subject that has come before this House in a year and is likely to come before it in the next year — and we had subjects that generated a great deal of heat. I refer to the development of European Union. On the way the economies of Europe proceed and the democracy in Europe survives and develops will depend our future more than on anything else. As has been pointed out, we are small and peripheral.

I am annoyed too at the whole negative approach of the people of Ireland, the media generally and Irish politicians to this subject. When the European Parliament was opened there was a procedure by which the oldest person in the House chaired and opened proceedings, and a very elderly lady from France, Madame Weiss opened the proceedings. She sat in the same group that Deputy Andrews sits in in the Parliament. She started off by complimenting great figures in history. She spoke about Charlemagne who first united the Latin and German genius and she went on to say that he had the Saxon king crowned in his summer palace in the Alps while Irish monks cultivated the banks of the Marne. I remember well the impressive way she opened the Parliament. Some time later I picked up in a library in Brussels a concise history of Europe. It started on the night of the year 344 when the first serious Germanic invasion crossed the frozen Rhine into France and it finished up in the latter part of the 16th century. I was amazed on turning the pages to find a chapter by that historian headed "The Irish Monks Go Forth". I am inclined to ask myself today after all that has happened in the 1,300 years, what is happening to the Irish people who made such an impression on Europe in early ages. After the Romans had withdrawn we were, I am sure, only a few hundred thousand people in a continent of something like 20 million. At that time the western empire was supposed to have a population of 20 million, and we made an immense impact with Irish education, scholarship and religion from Iona down to the South of Europe.

Tell that to Deputy John Kelly.

Yes. Deputy John Kelly knows it well. You do not want to misinterpret Deputy Kelly. You need to understand him. I agree completely with him. What has happened in the meantime is that we have become afraid to put a foot outside Ireland today. Our people who have gone to America, into the great melting pot of European peoples, and to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and wherever they have gone they have succeeded in holding their own and making their mark. Yet today we can think of nothing but the dangers of the Continent of Europe and the powers that the European Commission or the European Parliament might take from us, and our culture, language and heritage and everything being lost in the European melting pot.

We have a most depressing view of the whole European situation, a view that lacks imagination and courage and, worst of all, any moral thinking or goodwill. What was the burden of debate when we entered Europe first? What we were getting out of it. What has been the burden of all the questions and debates of Irish members in the European Parliament? It was what they were going to give us. What has been the burden of what has come up here to date? What they are going to give us or what they might take from us. Implicit in all of this is the belief that we seem to hold that we have nothing to contribute and that there is no future for Ireland in Europe except by holding up the veto which we cling to, the Luxembourg compromise, because it has no basis in any Roman treaty. We seem to think that by the use of this weapon we can tell 300 million people that we are not going to allow them to go any further.

One of the most important points that has come up in the Oireachtas committee and in the debate here today is that everybody wants to hold on to this veto, this imaginary weapon by which we think we can prevent the people of Europe from making the sort of progress that they will try to make democratically. I did not intend to go into the question of the veto but let me say that it is pure nonsense. It is ridiculous. The veto is a weapon by which every single member of the Ten has a right to hold up proceedings. It will be every single member of the Twelve in the future. I cannot think of anything that will not affect the vital interests of one of the Twelve or a considerable part or region of any of those nations. There is no single possible subject, no single law that could be passed, no single directive you could impose on this Community that will not do an injustice to some major region or country or part of a country within the Community.

Deputy, you have two minutes remaining.

I want to mention briefly the question of neutrality that has marred the whole discussion on the development of a European Union because people insist on asking if it is a threat to our neutrality and if they are seeking to force us in. Why would they want us in? Some journalists suggested to me recently that they were after our young people, that they wanted them to pull triggers and be cannon fodder in the next war. What nonsense. Our total population would comprise half of 1 per cent of the people of Europe. Whether we have 3 per cent or 4 per cent more young people than the Germans or the French does not make much difference. I have no evidence whatever that Europe wants to stampede us into NATO or the Western European Union which is something——

They took our men in the First World War — the Redmondites.

We went there. The Deputy could not have expected them to send us home. A total of 50,000 of us went there of our own free will in the Second World War and the Fianna Fáil Leader did not stop Irish people from participating in that war, although people from other countries were stopped.

Not many came back. They are lying in graves over the Continent.

This is more evidence that at that time as much as today there existed the hypocritical belief that we could have it both ways. We have boasted about all the Irishmen who died fighting for the West. It was not much of a boast to be neutral while six million people were dying in gas chambers.

Deputy Andrews read a good script. I am trying to make my speech as I go along because I did not have time to write it or anyone to write it for me.

I found time to write mine.

I feel I ought to refer to this subject because I am one of the minority, one of the people whose voice is not so often heard. I believe, not that we should join NATO in the morning but that the policy of neutrality is not useful to the people of Ireland. It is not a practical policy and it is not right. I would love to have 15 minutes to explain why I believe a policy of neutrality is not sensible in the long term.

I agree with much that Deputy McCartin said in the first part of his speech but I would have to hear his 15 minute elaboration on the policy of neutrality before I could decide whether to agree with him on that.

The contributions that have been made to this debate today encourage me to strike a note of optimism. The views expressed on all sides of the House have reasserted the continuing vitality of the decision to join the Community made by the large majority of our people in 1972. And for all the concern expressed today about the need to protect vital national interests, it is striking that a theme common to almost all speeches is that one of our more vital interests is our continued membership of the Community itself. Therefore, it is at all times in the context of continued membership of the Community that we view the present process towards further European integration.

Our approach to European Union is different from that of all other member states. All of our partners suffered in the Second World War and there is consequently an emotional basis for their pursuit of this ideal. Ireland, on the other hand, was spared this searing experience. Additionally, unlike our partners, we are young in statehood and have a pride in a sovereignty, the absense of which is still within living memory for some. There is therefore a major task ahead in creating in Ireland, if not an emotional appeal for union, then at least the recognition by the public that further integration is in Ireland's long term interests.

As Members are all no doubt aware, the European Council in Fontainebleau last year, in consequence of the Genscher-Columbo Declaration on Union, the Parliament's draft treaty on union and President Mitterrand's appeal for a relaunching of Europe, decided to set up the Ad Hoc Committee on Institutional Affairs to map out the next stage of integration. The committee reported to the European Council last March and its recommendations will be the main topic for discussion at the Council's meeting in Milan this week. Others have already discussed these recommendations but for the purpose of my exercise I shall repeat them briefly.

They include a call for a genuine political entity; for a series of priority objectives which include, first the completion of the present treaty through the creation of an internal market, through increased competitiveness of the European economy and through the promotion of economic convergence; secondly, the promotion of what are called common values of civilisation and which include measures to protect the environment, the gradual achievement of a European social area, the gradual establishment of a homogeneous judicial area and the promotion of common cultural values; thirdly, the search for an external identity which includes the strengthening and improvement of European political co-operation and its extension to cover consultation on security and defence matters.

To facilitate the achievement of these objectives and to reinvigorate the institutions for their own sake, the committee proposed a series of institutional reforms. These include recommendations for easier decision making in the Council, for a strengthened Commission, for an enhanced role for the European Parliament and for increased scope for the activities of the Court of Justice.

Finally the committee proposed a method by which the member states might institute the recommendations. It suggested that a Conference of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States should be convened in the near future to negotiate a draft European Union Treaty based on the acquis communautaire (the body of Community legislation), the specific Dooge Recommendations, the Genscher-Columbo Declaration on European Union and would be guided by the spirit and method of the European Parliament's draft treaty.

These then are the proposals for the next stage of European integration. Reactions to them vary. Common to all of them is an acceptance that, unlike other efforts in past years, Senator Dooge and his colleagues have set forth a range of objectives which, in the light of present realities, one can at least conceive of being achieved.

Let us now look from an Irish perspective at a selection of the recommendations and at their implications for Ireland. The first recommendation for a genuine political entity, that is, for a form of European union, is an ideal to which we can aspire and towards which I believe significant progress will be made in the present process. However, its ultimate realisation, in part or in whole, will be in no small way dependent on the degree to which the other more immediate recommendations are acceptable to member states.

The first priority objective for a homogeneous internal economic area includes a recommendation for the creation under the present treaty of a genuine internal market. In common with all member states we see particular advantages in easing access to a single integrated market. We therefore support the achievement of a Community-wide internal market and the promotion of economic convergence in the Community. In working towards the achievement of an internal market free of any remaining obstacles to trade we will simply be meeting obligations to which we are already committed. The proposals in the Dooge report include recommendations for the increased competitiveness of European industry and the European economy. This we very much favour. The promotion of economic convergence is clearly in Ireland's interest and I shall deal with this subject in more detail later.

Under the same heading are recommendations on the opening up of access to public contracts and the mutual recognition of national standards. Here we recognise that two major elements in the abolition of the remaining obstacles to intra-Community trade are first, the adoption of common technical standards for products and secondly, the opening up of public contracts in the Community. These are keys to a resurgence in European industry. The prospect of markets will provide the incentive to industry to make the advances in research and technology required to remain competitive on the international plane. I can point to the fact that we have done our part in this area. During the Irish Presidency, the Community adopted what is called the "Single Administrative Document". This is a virtual European passport for goods which considerably eases customs procedures and will result in the elimination of excess cost, estimated at 5 per cent of frontier formalities.

The simplification of formalities in trade between the member states will have a positive impact on the future development of intra-Community trade. In particular it will provide an incentive for firms, especially small ones, to view their activity in terms of the whole of the internal market. In Europe we cannot take our prosperity for granted. As we look to the future we must work to ensure that our European economy is securely based on advanced industry, efficient agriculture and competitive trading.

On transport policy the Community's failure to develop a satisfactory common transport policy, despite the objectives laid down in the Treaty, is depressing. It exemplifies the crippling caution and the obsession with niggling details to which the Community has too often been prone. In practical terms, it means that the movement of goods between member states is slower, more expensive and less efficient than it could be. It is clear that without a common transport policy the creation of a truly homogeneous internal economic area — one of the Dooge committee's priority objectives — is impossible. We accordingly support rapid progress towards full liberalisation of road haulage, and can accept the parallel need for the harmonisation of conditions pointed to by other member states. As already mentioned, it is a matter of some pride that our recent Presidency was quite successful in this area. Both producers and consumers, notably on this comparatively isolated island would benefit from the cheaper and more competitive transport services thereby provided. Moreover, I believe that Irish hauliers are in a position to compete vigorously in a more open market. As far as air transport is concerned, there is obviously scope for greater competition within the constraints which arise from the special nature of the industry.

I turn now to the European Monetary System. The strengthening of the EMS is an essential condition of further European integration. Ireland has participated in the system since its inception on 13 March 1979. We have found participation most useful in helping to promote exchange rate stability, particularly given the very wild fluctuations being experienced by the major currencies and given our relatively high dependence on international trade. This stability is evidenced by the fact that over two years have elapsed since the last realignment of EMS currencies.

Stability in exchange rates within the EMS has, in turn, resulted in a moderation in import prices and this has been accompanied by a dramatic convergence of Community inflation rates. The rate of inflation in Ireland, at 5.2 per cent this year, is below the Community average and the lowest nationally for 18 years. EMS membership has also been of benefit in that it has necessitated the development of the foreign exchange and money markets in Dublin.

When the EMS was founded the support arrangements for the less prosperous states participating in the system took the form of guaranteed access to subsidised Community loans. Ireland received its subsidies in capitalised form and these amounted to 66.7 million ECU each year for the five year period 1979-83. We received our full entitlement to the subsidised loans which were used to finance capital investment in the economic infrastructural area, mainly telecommunications and energy projects.

Further development of the EMS would be welcomed by Ireland. It will reinforce not only its technical mechanisms but will also improve prospects for economic development, including higher growth, employment and the raising of living standards in the less prosperous member states. There have been calls on Britain to join the system. Ireland, with its high proportion of sterling-denominated trade, would welcome the pound sterling into the EMS. I take this opportunity to call on Britain to join the EMS to enhance the stability of the exchange rates in the Community. The bulk of our trade would then be covered by the EMS arrangements and some of the problems with which we have had to cope in recent years, as a result of sharp movements of sterling outside the system, would be reduced.

Given our view that a European Union must repose on a solid economic foundation, the promotion of economic convergence must obviously remain a priority objective in this country's approach to the deliberations and decisions arising from the Dooge report. Translated into concrete terms, the pursuit of this objective will involve, among other things, advocating the exploitation of such possibilities as may exist for greater concentration of the economic policies of the member states of the Community, notably to combat unemployment; support for further increasing the Community's own resources in order to equip the Community to discharge its responsibilities and to meet the challenges facing it; and support for increasing the resources of the Community's structural funds in order to enable them to adequately discharge their tasks. Despite the budgetarily restrictive views of a number of member states, we intend to pursue a policy of securing adequate resources to meet present needs and future objectives.

I should like to say something now about the enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal. The impetus towards further enlarging the Community was in large part based upon political factors. As the founding fathers of the Community made clear when they were drafting the Treaty of Rome, the Community is open to all democratic European states who share the European ideal. We, therefore, welcome the accession of Spain and Portugal, which will do much to give added strength to the democratic institutions of our two new partners and will also help to widen the geographical, cultural and historical idea of Europe which underlies the European Community.

The accession negotiations were long, complex and difficult. I believe, however, that the final outcome is a balanced one for all parties concerned. The opening up of the large Iberian market, which will add 48 million consumers to the existing Community, will provide a stimulus for European industry that is particularly important at this time of economic difficulties.

One of the central problems of the negotiations was to secure agreement on the rate of dismantlement over a seven year period and the rate of dismantlement will lead to a reduction of over 52 per cent on duties over the first three years. Moreover, apart from a limited number of products, quantitative restrictions between Spain and the Community will be abolished from accession. This, like the early opening up of the Spanish market, should be of considerable assistance to some Irish exporters who in the past have experienced difficulty in gaining access to the market on account of non-tariff barriers. In the case of Portugal, industrial tariffs will also be abolished over a seven year period involving a 50 per cent reduction over the first three years. The opening up of the Iberian markets will also permit us to begin to develop our export potential on these markets for meat and dairy products.

While I do not wish to anticipate now the debate which will take place in this House later this year when we consider the question of the ratification of the Accession Treaty, I wish to reaffirm now that the agreements reached in the fisheries chapter of the negotiations represent a very positive outcome in terms of the protection and further development of our fishing interests. One of the most important elements from our point of view is, of course, the fact that Spanish and Portugese fishing vessels will be excluded for ten years from the Irish 50 mile box around our coast. The achievement of this negotiating objective was all the more creditable when one realises that Spain had continually pressed for access to the Irish box with immediate effect from the date of accession.

The accession of Spain and Portugal has significant implications for the future shape of the Community. For instance, enlargement will almost double the size of population in regions with serious development problems. Yet it is clear that one of the major shortcomings of the existing Community has been its failure to develop a regional policy effective enough to come near to fulfilling the Treaty objective of reducing the economic disparities between the Community's regions.

If this were to continue to be the case the regional disparities in the enlarged Community would be even more pronounced than in the existing Community. This clearly would be an unacceptable situation, not only for us and for other existing member states with serious problems of regional development, but also for Spain and Portugal. I am confident that the alignment of forces working for genuine economic convergence, involving the progressive elimination of imbalances between the Community's various areas and regions, will be considerably stronger in the enlarged Community than at present. We shall work closely with those who share with us a common interest in promoting economic convergence involving, among other things, the desirability of increasing the Community's structural funds and to assign a greater proportion of these funds to the regions most in need, including Ireland.

Turning again to specific Dooge proposals, I note that the report calls for the creation of a technological Community backed up by a genuine internal market which would enable Europe to become a powerful competitor internationally in the field of production and application of advanced technologies.

Although the December and March European Councils also referred to this in their conclusions, the first more concrete initiative came in the form of a letter in April from French Foreign Minister Dumas to his Community colleagues. In this he outlined his proposal for establishing a new agency, with legal and financial autonomy, for the purpose of organising and co-ordinating research and development activities of interested European countries in a number of high technology sectors. First reactions to the French initiative linked it to the United States "Strategic Defence Initiative" proposal and saw it very much as a rival undertaking.

However, France has stressed that its proposal is motivated by long standing concerns, and is a logical conclusion of its thinking to date. Furthermore, the French emphasise that, unlike the SDI, Eureka is a civil research programme.

Reactions to Eureka in other member states have mostly been very positive. This is due in large measure to the widespread recognition of the technological challenge to Europe from Japan and the USA and from the fear that participation by European allies of the United States in SDI research could lead to a siphoning off of European research capability. Motivated by these same concerns, the European Commission has more recently put forward ideas of its own for a qualitative leap in Community research activities.

We regard the French proposal as interesting and significant and as one which seeks to address the challenges presented by the present state of European co-operation and the place of Europe in the world. Naturally enough, there are aspects to the proposal which require further examination. These would include such aspects as the way in which it relates to the European Community framework, the idea of variable participation in individual projects and the extent to which non-members of the Community can participate in it bearing in mind here precedents of successful extra-Community co-operation in ventures such as JET, COST and the European Space Agency.

We are examining the proposal actively and also positively, out of the conviction that an initiative of this kind is essential to make up the ground Europe has lost and to maintain our competitiveness in the medium and longer term. We are also examining the Commission ideas in the same spirit. Of course, our overall concern is to ensure that whatever finally emerges, Ireland's technological needs and capacity are taken into account. Incidentally, this is a concern shared by other small countries, especially in the context of Community funds.

The Dooge report also makes recommendations in the areas of the environment, social policy and the harmonisation of national laws. From an Irish viewpoint there are no difficulties here of a fundamental nature. However, there are certain interests which must be accommodated. For instance, in the environmental area we must ensure that moves to harmonise anti-pollution measures do not tie us to a standard which might apply in, for instance, the Ruhr. Again in the area of social policy there is a need to ensure that account is taken of the particular conditions and the level of development which apply in Ireland. The Irish view in relation to the proposed harmonisation of laws is that such harmonisation presents greater difficulties for a country with a common law system than for one with a civil law system and must therefore be seen as a long term objective. However, as already mentioned these considerations are not of such a fundamental nature as to preclude an overall positive approach to the report.

Progress towards European Union is not confined to the economic sphere. Closer political co-operation and integration is also part of the objective of European Union and moves towards European Union must take account of this reality.

The White Paper of January 1972, on the subject of Ireland's accession to the European Communities, stated the policy of the then Government succinctly and I quote from it:

The Irish Government, in applying for membership of the Communities, declared their acceptance of the Treaties of Rome and Paris, the decisions taken in their implementation and the political objectives of the Treaties. The Government have, furthermore, declared their readiness to join as a member of the enlarged Communities in working with the other member States towards the goal of political unification in Europe. It should, however, be emphasised that the Treaties of Rome and Paris do not entail any military or defence commitments and so such commitments are involved in Ireland's acceptance of these Treaties.

The political objectives of the Treaties have been accepted by every Irish Government since that time. Accordingly, we are in principle prepared to consider proposals aimed at furthering the political objectives of the Treaties. Nonetheless, the Government and their predecessors have consistently argued that progress towards European Union should be balanced, systematic and coherent. In particular, we believe that greater political co-operation and integration should proceed hand in hand with closer economic co-operation and convergence. This entails the creation of a genuine community of economic interests.

The Dooge report, which in our view should form the basis of discussions at the forthcoming European Council in Milan, contains a number of proposals aimed at enhancing European political co-operation, the arrangement whereby member states consult and co-ordination on a range of foreign policy issues. These proposals fall into three main categories.

First, proposals that are aimed at improving the technical functioning of political co-operation — for example, by the creaton of a separate Secretariat as distinct from the present situation whereby the country holding the Presidency assumes all the tasks of a Secretariat. Under this heading there is also a proposal to transfer the official level meetings from the capital of the Presidency to Brussels, with the aim of harmonising and ensuring a closer link with the Community framework.

The second set of proposal in the Dooge report is aimed at strengthening the commitment to European political co-operation, in particular by formalising the commitment to consult and by seeking to ensure that consensus, the basic rule of EPC, be sought in keeping with the majority opinion. The thrust of this latter proposal is problematic. Some of our partners appear to favour a departure from the rule of consensus based on unanimity. We, and others of our partners, are resistant to such a dilution of the consensus principle. There is unlikely to be a broad measure of support in the Community for any change or dilution in the existing consensus principle in European political co-operation.

The third set of proposals expressly concerns security and defence. Senator Dooge put down a reserve on this section. The section aims to enlarge co-operation on security beyond the current guidelines which explicitly state that co-operation on security matters is restricted to political and economic aspects of security. It envisages what could be broadly termed as politico-military consultations which would be complementary to the aims of the Atlantic Alliance. This section of the report also envisages co-operation on arms procurement and production. We have put down a reservation on that.

Our general approach to these sets of proposals has taken into account certain considerations. First, the merits of the proposals themselves. That is, are these proposals justified on their own merits? Do they meet objective needs? Would they lead to a situation where political co-operation works any better than it does at the present time?

Second, we view these proposals within the framework of our overall approach to European construction. In effect, this means that we believe that closer political co-operation should be based on the systematic creation of a growing community of economic and social interests.

Third, in relation to proposals concerning security and defence, we shall not agree to any proposal which conflicts with the Government's policy of neutrality. Our partners have been made well aware of that position, which applies not only to proposals contained in the Dooge report but also to analogous proposals contained in the British draft agreement on European political co-operation which have been reported in recent days.

I should like to turn now to the proposals for the institutions. Looking at them in reverse order, we have no problems with the recommendation for the Court of Justice. Indeed, most member states seem to have accepted the recommendation without comment, evidence that the proposal is sensible without altering the fundamental role of the Court.

The Irish Government accept in principle the proposals for the European Parliament. It is clear to any observer that the European Parliament has an inad equate role which is inconsistent with its status as a directly elected body and that this inadequacy has a distorting effect on the way in which the Parliament handles its business. However, there are some fears on the part of member states which need to be dissipated before the recommendations will find ready acceptance among all partners. Some states are reluctant to support an enhanced role for the Parliament because of a fear that further powers will seriously complicate the decision making process and perhaps also because of a fear, less often expressed, that the recommendations will set a precedent which could in time affect the sovereignty of national parliaments. Behind this opposition one can detect a consciousness of the ad hoc way in which the Parliament has developed and the absence of a prior concept of the ultimate role of the Parliament. Unless there is a shared perception among member states of its future development, it will be difficult to bring about any fundamental change in its role. The Irish view is that the role of Parliament will have to be improved in some measure but that this should be done after due reflection and in the spirit of confidence which progress in other areas will create.

The proposals on the Commission are ones which were part of Irish policy on the Community a decade before the Dooge Committee made them. We have long felt that the Commission's powers of initiative and its role as guarantor of the Treaties have been eroded by encroachments from the Council, by its own growth as a Community bureaucracy and by the failure after two enlargements to reduce the number of its Commissioners in line with the number of real portfolios. We will pursue the report's recommendations in this area as being in the best interest of the Community as a whole.

I will deal now with the proposals for the Council. For the past few years the Council has shown a creeping paralysis in the area of decision making. The British budget problem, the creation of new own resources, budget discipline, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the accession of Spain and Portugal and integrated Mediterranean programmes are stark examples of areas where the Council decision-making process had almost ground to a halt. The breakthrough of the past 12 months or so in dealing with these issues and in clearing the way for the reform of decision making has been unfortunately marred in recent weeks by a resurgence of decision-making problems on the question of cereal prices. While member states have different views on what should be done, they are all agreed on the need for reform. Problems, however, do develop over the degree of this reform.

Taken in conjunction with the proposals for a strengthened Commission, those on decision making are, in my view, the most significant of all the recommendations in the Dooge report. They are significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are relevant to the immediate problems of the Community. Secondly, if realised, they have the potential to clear logjams going back many years. Thirdly, a whole range of Treaty objectives in, for instance, competition, transport, social policy, free movement of workers, right of establishment, and so on, become that much easier to achieve. Fourthly, they will add a real measure of othodoxy and predictability to Community decisions which will have the effect of making them more acceptable at national level.

For all of these reasons we find the report's recommendations in this area acceptable, subject to Senator Dooge's reserve on the retention of the veto. This retention of the veto is a matter of some importance to us. We are quite convinced that, without provision for recourse to it, we will not be in a position to safeguard the vital interests threatened by Community action. Having said that, we do recognise that the veto has been abused and that it must be modified so as to restrict its use to genuine, sustainable cases.

Deputy O'Kennedy characterised some comments by the Taoiseach on benefits to Ireland from the Community as an acceptance of the principle of Juste retour. This seems to me to be a unique interpretation of the Taoiseach's comments. It is obviously not a case of us receiving back simply what we have put in; clearly the output has been much greater that the input and we have no plans to change that.

I wish to refer to the report of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. I would like to take this opportunity to compliment the Members, including Deputy Manning and his group, on their detailed analysis on the Spinelli Draft Treaty. I have spoken as a committed European, as someone who sees European Union as a desirable objective. Let me be clear about this. My commitment is not based on any sense of idealised attachment to this objective. Rather I have arrived at this commitment from a pragmatic assessment of where Ireland's best interests lie. As already mentioned, we all seem to be agreed that one of our more vital interests is membership of the Community itself. It takes no feat of imagination to envisage further integration coming about as a result of the force of events.

In Ireland already we can see such a process under way at a psychological level with demands for Community, rather than national, action to combat major international problems whether they be oil crises, unemployment, or international competition. It is both logical and inevitable that this should be followed by measures of real integration. Seen thus, the question one should ask is not whether we support union, but how best to benefit from it.

For the second time in 40 years, through the medium of the Dooge report, an invitation has been issued in Europe to move further along the path to union. We in Ireland have made our assessment and judge the invitation to be worth accepting.

Statements adjourned.