Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 3 Dec 1991

Vol. 413 No. 9

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Europen Campaign.

Peter Barry


2 Mr. Barry asked the Taoiseach if there has been a review of the Europen campaign; the results of the review; and if he has satisfied himself that Irish businesses are prepared to achieve the benefits of 1992.

Ruairí Quinn


3 Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he proposes to initiate new publicity and public service information campaigns in 1992 to build upon the work of the Europen publicity project concerning the completion of the single market by the end of 1992; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In my reply on 12 March last to a previous question from Deputy Quinn, I said that the Europen campaign was concentrated in 1988 and 1989, with some run-over into 1990, and, as had always been intended, the Government's continuing activities designed to promote preparation for the completion of the Single European Market were being carried out by the Government Departments and State agencies appropriate in each case. I suggested that if the Deputy had a specific query in regard to any area, he might table a question to the appropriate Minister.

A market survey in May-June, 1989, confirmed that the Europen campaign had been successful in raising awareness of the Single Market programme and had led to a very significant increase in awareness on the part of Irish business. It is not proposed to initiate a new centrally co-ordinated campaign on this particular subject in 1992. Departments and agencies concerned will continue to take initiatives as necessary, as exemplified by the FÁS initiative on training and retraining for the Single Market and the Countdown 92 initiative undertaken by the Minister of State for Trade and Marketing in the first half of this year, in addition, of course, to the many continuing programmes of departments and State agencies, especially those reporting to the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

The Government, of course, will be publishing a White Paper on the results of the Intergovernmental Conferences on political union and economic and monetary union, in advance of a referendum. The referendum campaign will no doubt reinforce consciousness of the Single Market.

It is difficult to give any comprehensively valid assessment of preparedness but the overall economic results, especially in regard to exports, of the past two to three years, suggest that the general state of preparation is satisfactory.

Would the Taoiseach agree that Irish business does not appear to be sufficiently alert to the opportunities and indeed dangers of the Single Market after 1993, the fact that at that stage they would be exposed to dangers on the home market they have had to themselves to date? There is no indication, particularly from the unemployment figures, that Irish business is being geared to take advantage of 1992.

I think there is a very keen awareness on a widespread basis of the advent of the Single Market. The best single proof of that is the performance of our exports.

They have been performing well for seven or eight years.

The performance is improving all the time. It improved again last month. Figures available to me today, which will be published shortly, will prove that we have performed very well again this year.

That has been the case for seven or eight years and it is not due to Europen.

That is a very superficial remark by Deputy Barry. The year 1990 was a very difficult one in international trading. There was a recession in the UK and in the United States and a general falling off in world trade. In spite of that, our export performance was excellent through 1991. That is a very good indication that our firms are aware of the prospects in the export market.

Will the Taoiseach not agree that if one looks behind the gross figures for our admirable export performance, one finds that the companies performing most effectively are subsidiaries of multinationals? Our concern and, I suspect, the concern of Deputy Barry, is for the performance of the indigenously-owned sector which does not have the network of information which the multinationals have. Is the Taoiseach satisfied that middle management and workforces in small and medium sized enterprises are getting the level of informatiom necessary to enable them to perform at the end of next year?

That is a fairly wide-ranging question. I would emphasise that every business firm should be well aware of the advent of the Single Market and the opportunities offered, as well as the dangers. I believe there is a widespread acknowledgment of that fact. I also agree with Deputy Quinn that the big multinationals operating here are doing better than indigenous industry. A great deal of effort is being concentrated on indigenous industries in an endeavour to get them up to speed in preparing for the potential markets that will open up after 1992. Managements and workforces who do not alert themselves and do not prepare will suffer the consequences. It is very important that even this exchange of views across the House be fully reported and brought to the attention of everybody concerned. We should emphasise the importance of making every possible preparation for the advent of the Single Market.

I dislike the word "indigenous" and the term "SMEs". Will the Taoiseach accept that the prime difficulty facing small and medium sized businesses which are Irish owned or located fully here is their lack of marketing ability? Will he arrange with Bord Tráchtála to second for one year to small and medium sized businesses graduates from the marketing schools, most of whom now emigrate, and arrange that this scheme be funded by the Government? That will be a signal of the Government's interest and it will have beneficial effects on both exports and employment.

I do not disagree with that. Those sorts of plans and initiatives are being taken. There are Structural Funds available for marketing initiatives. The key factor is competitiveness.


Fortunately Irish industry is in a very satisfactory position at present in regard to competitiveness. Industrialists will admit that this is of vital importance and they urge the Government to maintain that competitiveness in so far as possible. I attribute a great deal of our success in maintaining a competitive edge to the Programme for National Recovery and the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. I again emphasise to all the social partners the need to continue with those programmes.

The Taoiseach will no doubt be aware of the reports of the Committee on Industrial Organisation which his late father-in-law initiated. Unfortunately many of the recommendations of those reports were ignored by smaller companies and the Government of the day, of which I think Deputy Haughey was a member, did not see fit to reinforce the message conveyed by those analyses. Since the Taoiseach's Department have taken on themselves responsibility for the Europen campaign, will they run a new survey based on 1991 as to the level of awareness among small indigenous companies? Will they follow up the consequences and results of that survey? Will the Taoiseach initiate a new programme to target those people who are not prepareed to face the realities of 1992?

We will have to consider the question of a survey on its merits. We will do that. We meet representatives of industry on an on-going basis and they are very much aware of our views. It is also a fact that representatives of industry with whom we are in touch have a constant campaign going to alert their members to the situation which is coming closer every day. If it is the view that a further survey with follow-up action would be beneficial, that can be considered.

I must admit that I am about to engage in a commercial. I agree that competitiveness is vital for the survival of our industry. Two areas in which we are sadly uncompetitive are energy and transport. I recommend that the Taoiseach study a report adopted by the British-Irish interparliamentary body this morning, produced under the chairmanship of Mr. Stuart Bell, MP, who is with us now. It is a very valuable contribution to increasing our competitiveness in the transport sector.

That is a very definite commercial. Yes, of course I will study that report.