Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 3 Nov 1992

Vol. 424 No. 8

European Communities (Amendment) Bill. 1992: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the European Communities Acts, 1972 to 1986, in order to allow Ireland to become a member of the European Union. The Bill is necessary because certain provisions of the Treaty on European Union must be made part of the domestic law of the State. It is necessary also to enable the State to complete procedures for Ireland's ratification of the Treaty on European Union.

As Deputies are aware, the Treaty on European Union was approved by a large majority of the Irish electorate in a referendum held on 18 June 1992. The President subsequently signed the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution Act on 16 July. It now remains to pass this Bill through the Oireachtas. Ireland will then be in a position to lodge the instruments of accession with the Italian Government before 31 December 1992.

Under Article R of the Treaty on European Union, the High Contracting Parties undertook to ratify the Treaty in accordance with their constitutional requirements with a view to the Treaty coming into force in 1 January 1993.

Under provisions of the Treaty, the Treaty on European Union must be made part of the domestic law of the State. The provisions of the Treaty which must be made part of domestic law are those which affect the European Community Treaties. As Deputies can see section 1 of the Bill makes provision for Titles II, III, IV and the relevant parts of Title VII to be made part of the domestic law of the State. Title II contains provisions amending the Treaty which established the EEC. Title III contains provisions amending the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community. Title IV contains provisions amending the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.

Title VII of the Maastricht Treaty contains the final provisions of the Treaty on European Union. As Deputies can see, certain articles of this Title are provided for specifically and certain other are not. I will give an example. Article L of the Treaty on European Union concerns the role of the Court of Justice and is provided for in the Bill. Article L limits the powers of the Court of Justice to the existing treaties and to three articles of the Treaty on European Union: Articles K.3 (2) (c), L and S. It is appropriate, therefore, that this article becomes part of the domestic law of the State. However, where the Articles provide for action under the Union but not under the treaties, a reference in the European Communities Act is not required.

Section 2 of the Bill provides that the competences under the European Community Treaties of certain bodies, which will not be institutions of the European Communities but will have some legislative power conferred on them, can be exercised and have effect in domestic law. The bodies in question are the European Central Bank and the European Monetary Institute. No other bodies referred to in the Treaty are covered by section 2 of this Bill.

There is no provision in this legislation to cover Title V or Title VI of the Treaty on European Union. Title V concerns provisions on a common foreign and security policy where no requirement for domestic legislation is envisaged. Title VI concerns provisions on co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs. Legislation may be required at some stage in the future to cover some of the articles in this Title. However, no legislation is required, nor would it be appropriate, at this stage to cover the provisions of this Title.

To date, Luxembourg, Greece and Italy have completed their ratification procedures. The process of ratification of the Treaty is under way in the other member states. The Birmingham European Council reviewed progress on ratification of the Treaty on European Union and reaffirmed the importance of concluding the process as soon as possible, without reopening the present text, on the timing foreseen in Article R of the Treaty. Ireland has committed itself to complete its ratification procedures by 1 January 1993 as envisaged in the Treaty.

In a referendum in Denmark on 2 June, the Danish people voted against the Treaty by a narrow margin. On Friday last, the Danish Government presented to partners its proposals for arrangements which would enable it to put the question of ratification to the Danish people. We are considering these proposals at present. The Danish Foreign Minister, Mr. Uffe Elleman Jensen, will be in Dublin later this month to discuss the proposals with me. While at this stage I do not wish to pre-empt the outcome of those discussions, we will consider the Danish proposals in the light of the following concerns; first, our interest in seeing Maastricht ratified and in operation at the earliest possible date; second, our willingness to help Denmark, so long as the steps taken uphold Community achievements and do not impede the dynamics of integration; and, third, no reopening of the text of the Treaty as agreed by all Heads of Government at Birmingham. We clearly would not want an outcome that would call into question the positive referendum vote here in June. It is in everyone's interest to find a solution to the problems posed by the Danish vote and I hope that we would make a full and helpful contribution in the forthcoming negotiations.

In the light of the debate on the Maastricht Treaty which is taking place in all countries of the Community at present, it is worthwhile recalling the origins of the Treaty. First it is a logical progression from the previous treaties bringing us on to a new stage in the process of European Union. These treaties have greatly strengthened Europe economically and politically and created a Community with real influence in the world. Second it grew out of a view — expressed most notably by President Delors — that there was a real need for closer economic and monetary cohesion to protect and consolidate the achievements of the Community. Recent events have borne this out. Third it was clearly recognised, particularly during the Irish Presidency in 1990, that closer political integration was required. Events in Eastern Europe have served to justify this view. Fourth progress on political union has to be accompanied by progress in areas such as cohesion and on the introduction of new policies appropriate to a more advanced phase of European integration.

Against this background, as well as considering the text of the Bill, this debate offers an opportunity to review recent developments in the Community. The conclusions of the Birmingham European Council on 16 October 1992 set out the immediate agenda in the period up to Edinburgh in December. I would like to examine some of the issues on that agenda.

Economic and monetary union forms one of the major elements of the Maastricht Treaty. Indeed, an intergovernmental conference on economic and monetary union was suggested before that on political union. Economic and Monetary Union represents a logical step in the development of the Community. The importance of stability of exchange rates for the smooth functioning of a common market became very clear during the period of currency instability in the seventies.

The recent turbulence on the currency markets shows once again how currency instability can upset the smooth functioning of the common market. We need look no further than the problems caused for some of our own exporters to see an example of the problems caused by currency fluctuations. The recent turbulence confirms rather than puts in doubt the wisdom of aiming at full economic and monetary union as envisaged in the Maastricht Treaty. A small open economy like Ireland is in a better position than most to understand the costs and the barriers created for all by the different currencies.

In the wake of the recent disturbances on currency markets there was much speculation that some countries in Europe wanted to aim at monetary union on their own, in a fast-track approach involving Germany and other countries. This has been firmly denied by the countries concerned, including Germany, as the Birmingham European Council conclusions clearly show.

The existing European monetary system has brought considerable stability and benefits. The European Council at Birmingham described the EMS as "a key factor of economic stability and prosperity in Europe". Ireland has been in the exchange rate mechanism, the ERM, since it was established in 1979. We have become a strong and sound member of the ERM. This has been greatly to our benefit. It is a measure of the progress we have made in recent years that our currency has maintained a strong position in the ERM in spite of the fall in the value of sterling and Ireland intends to be in the first group to move to full monetary union.

Of course, economic and monetary union is not about currency stability alone. President Delors has recently referred to the need for action by the member states to prevent the deepening recession. In his speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg he called on the Edinburgh European Council to launch a European growth initiative. I would agree strongly with President Delors on this issue. Low growth and consequent unemployment is the most serious challenge facing all of the Governments of the Community at present. By acting together we can more effectively tackle the problem of jobs and the Government will continue to pursue this issue actively in forthcoming Community discussions.

Developments since the Maastricht Treaty was signed have made clear the need for a much greater effort by the Community to inform its citizens of its work, its decisions and its intentions. the single clear lesson Governments and the Commission have learned is that there has been a failure adequately to explain to the citizens what the Community is about and in particular what are the objectives, terms and implications of the Maastricht Treaty.

We in Ireland are better informed than most of our partners. Irish people have consistently demonstrated that they have a greater grasp of and appreciation for what the Community is about. Notwithstanding this, the Government went to considerable trouble to inform the Irish people on the content of the Treaty and its implications with the publication of the White Paper and the Government's Short Guide to the Treaty.

Since the referendum the Government have been examining ways and means of improving public information on EC affairs. The Government are anxious that the good work carried out in the referendum campaign needs to be carried forward. We are anxious to see more effective communication with our citizens on European Community affairs.

As the Birmingham Conclusions state, we need to demonstrate to our citizens the benefits of the Community and of the Maastricht Treaty. The Treaty when ratified will serve to consolidate and move forward one of the most successful vehicles for inter-State co-operation the world has known. Leaving aside the fundamental benefits of peace and prosperity, I would like to take this opportunity to list briefly a number of areas where I feel more needs to be done at Community level in particular to bring the message to our citizens: the Common Agricultural policy with its guarantee of food supplies and decent incomes for farmers; a customs union and internal market of 340 million people. As I have mentioned, recent events in the Exchange Rate Mechanism prove that the logical consequence of and progression from an internal market is the achievement of a single currency — the fruit of economic and monetary union; a strong, coherent voice in world trade. In the current GATT talks, the Community speaks with a strong voice and in fact represents the greatest single trading area in the world; a strong cohesion dimension expressed through the three existing Structural Funds — the Regional Fund, the Social Fund and the FEOGA Guidance Fund. The Government White Paper has details of the impact of these funds on the Irish economy and on the future of Irish life. But cohesion benefits all areas of the Community and this needs to be made clear; an environmental policy which has seen agreement on high environmental standards in the Community; a research and technological development policy which will enable Community enterprises to compete with the US and Japan and create jobs in the process; a development co-operation policy which has seen the systematic support for the development of the ACP — African, Caribbean and Pacific countries — in the Lomé framework. Lomé is a unique agreement covering trade and wide-ranging co-operation in many key areas of economic and social development. The inclusion of a chapter on development co-operation in the Maastricht Treaty is a recognition that co-operation with the developing countries is now one of the key policy areas of the European Community.

The benefits to the citizen from these developments are not always immediately obvious. It will be the job of Governments and of the Commission to ensure that the benefits are brought more clearly to the attention of the citizen. The Community will have to be more open and all of the institutions will have to be conscious of the need to explain their work.

In the run-up to the Edinburgh European Council on 9-10 December there will be much debate on the theme of "openness". The debate on openness is linked to the debate on subsidiarity. Our position on the subsidiarity issue is very clear. We subscribed to the insertion of the principle in the Maastricht Treaty. We agree that the Article on subsidiarity has to be implemented. However, it should not be implemented at the expense of the existing institutional balance. We made our views on this clear at Birmingham. I am heartened by the very positive contribution of the Commission to the debate on the subject of subsidiarity. Discussions are in progress in Brussels on the Commission's communication on subsidiarity — copies of which I am having placed in the Library. Subsidiarity can be a positive principle which helps guide the formulation of Community legislation, but it should not be a kind of code for the undermining of the status of the Commission or the achievements of the Community to date.

The Maastricht Treaty recognises the need for national parliaments to become more involved in Community affairs. Recent events have reinforced the need for action in this area. The Commission has signalled that it is prepared to explore ways of briefing the national parliaments on its proposals, possibly to the extent of appointing a single Commissioner with responsibility in this area. The Government are willing to do all that is necessary to give effect to the declarations in the Treaty regarding the Parliament.

Already we have in the Oireachtas Joint Committee a means whereby input can be made to the process of considering proposals before the Council of Ministers. A Declaration in the Maastricht Treaty requires national governments to ensure that national parliaments receive Commission proposals in good time for possible examination. We have had a system of this nature in operation in Ireland since we joined the Community in 1973. The joint committee's role is under review in the context of the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Committee. Nevertheless, regardless of whatever new committee arrangements are made, the scrutiny of the joint committee function will remain in being.

More will need to be done because the Treaty Declaration on the role of parliaments and an additional declaration on the Conference of Parliaments will bring this House into much closer and much more regular contact with the European Parliament and the Legislatures of other member states. My Department are at the disposal of the House to give advice and help in dealing with the issues likely to arise in these contacts. The Department are open to any Deputy or Senator. I feel strongly about the need to inform and to give effect to what we are preaching within the EC in respect of openness and lack of secrecy.

The further development of economic and social cohesion received an important impetus in the Maastricht Treaty and the practical implementation of this aspect of the Treaty will be a key issue at the Edinburgh European Council. The Treaty, both in its Articles and in the Cohesion Protocol which forms an integral part of it, again strengthens the cohesion provisions of the EC Treaty. The principle of cohesion is to be taken into account in framing and implementing all Community policies.

Structural Funds play a key role in helping to bring the less developed regions of the Community up to the Community average. The Treaty provides that these will be reviewed and that a new Cohesion Fund, specifically for the four least developed member states, will be added. The Commission's proposals on future financing of the Community, known generally as the Delors II package, include provisions for the doubling of funds — taking the Structural Funds and the new Cohesion Fund together — for the four cohesion countries taken as a whole.

Decisions on this package are to be taken at the European Council to be held in Edinburgh in December. The proposals on the new Cohesion Fund are already in an advanced state of preparation. The Maastricht text says that it should be in place before the end of 1993. The aim now is to have it in place early in 1993, in line with what was decided at the Lisbon European Council in June.

Closer co-operation in the area of foreign policy is an essential part of the Maastricht Treaty. While the Community has yet to reach a stage of development where foreign policy can be the subject of full Community decision-making, as is the case with Economic and Monetary Union, the Maastricht Treaty does represent a valuable step forward.

Decisions will still be taken by the member states by consensus. Implementation, as in the area of Justice and Home Affairs, will be by national action and not by directly applicable Community legislation. However, the new arrangements for foreign policy co-operation will allow the Twelve to act together more effectively than has been the case under existing provisions.

The process of co-operation on foreign policy questions since the early seventies has enabled the Community and its member states to look outwards, to other parts of the world, on the basis of agreed positions. The experience has been positive — positive for the Community and for the internaional community as a whole.

One clear indication of this is that other parts of the world increasingly look to the Community to have a common view of a situation, to become constructively involved, to back up that involvement with practical measures of co-operation.

We must also keep in mind the wider international background to what is happening in Europe. The United Nations is today more active than ever. In the past few years, as many peace-keeping operations were established as were established over the previous 40 years. Ireland has played a very significant role in many of these peace-keeping operations and I would like to pay particular tribute to those in the Army and so on who have given their time in very difficult and dangerous circumstances to serve with the United Nations in the interests of peace-keeping.

The international community is coming to accept more and more a common responsibility towards the broader problems of international society — towards combating poverty, protecting the environment, promoting confidence-building and disarmament. This emerging international agenda requires a coherent, forward-looking role for the European Community.

At the same time it is very important that we, as a small nation, keeping ourselves in proper perspective, should not be dissuaded from pursuing a particular foreign policy or direction. It would be my intention, as long as I remain Minister for Foreign Affairs, to address that in the national and international interest, keeping in perspective our position as a small country, as equal partners within the European Community but, nevertheless, with a position to take on issues like humanitarian aid and so on.

The chapter in the Maastricht Treaty on the future common foreign and security policy has already been discussed extensively in this House. I hope I have said enough to reinforce the message which has been heard so many times — that international conditions today require a strengthening of the mechanisms through which the Community develops common approaches in the foreign policy field.

The solutions offered in the Maastricht Treaty involve a balance. In order to promote a coherent European Community role in world affairs, it sets out objectives, streamlines decision-making procedures under the Council, and provides for joint actions under which the Twelve will pursue a sustained and detailed policy in certain areas which are judged from time to time to be of particular importance.

At the same time, the Treaty includes checks and safeguards such as the continuing distinction between security and defence and the provision that policy will be determined by unanimity, as at present.

From Ireland's point of view, an active forward-looking role for the Community gives us an enhanced opportunity to promote values for which we have traditionally stood on the world stage — the rule of law, respect for human rights, support for the United Nations, disarmament, the responsibility of the international community to address the glaring problems of poverty and underdevelopment. We can wholeheartedly support the foreign policy dimension of the Treaty in the contexts I mentioned.

As we are discussing foreign policy, I would like briefly to refer to Somalia. In early August, at the invitation of Irish aid agencies, I visited Somalia and witnessed at first hand the utter desolation and destitution of the people of that country. I described Somalia then as the land that God forgot. Subsequent to my visit I made every effort to awaken the world's conscience to the plight of Somalia. While I can report some successes in these efforts, I regret to say that the situation there at present continues to horrify us all. The visit by President Robinson also highlighted Ireland's concern at the continuing appalling situation there. I would like to pay particular tribute to the President for the courage, concern and dedication she showed in taking up the invitation she received from the aid agencies to go to that country. She played a significant role, a good and genuine one, in bringing that devastated country to the attention of the international community, and I salute her in that regard.

Both at Foreign Minister level and at Head of Government level, at the Birmingham European Council, Ireland has played a leading part in shaping Community policy, which is based on ensuring adequate flows of aid, the distribution of aid in condition of civil disorder, and the promotion of national reconciliation in that country.

As I speak, the security situation in Somalia continues to be a cause for great concern. Although the cease-fire holds in some areas of the country. The presence of armed bandits exacerbates an already difficult situation. The rapid deployment of all the UN troops authorised by the Security Council remains an absolute priority.

The recent resignation of Ambassador Sahnoun as the UN Secretary-General's special representative in Somalia is a matter of deep disappointment and regret. It is hoped that his successor, Mr. Ismat Kittani, will continue the efforts of Ambassador Sahnoun in reconciling the waring factions and in working to bring peace to Somalia.

I met Ambassador Sahnoun on a number of occasions. He is a former Algerian diplomat and I must pay special tribute to him. He is an extraordinary man and it was with great regret that I learned of the difficulties he was experiencing there in regard to what I consider to be bureaucratic interference in an unfair and unjust fashion.

This House has had a number of detailed debates this year on European issues and I have found these debates very valuable. I am sure that this debate will be equally valuable and I commend this Bill to the House.

In the uncertain political atmosphere which now pervades our country, Fine Gael are very keen indeed to have this ratified by the Oireachtas before an election is called.

Fine Gael led the charge to have the Maastricht Treaty ratified by the people on 18 June last and in the circumstances a Bill to put in place the provisions of the Treaty as part of our domestic law has our approval.

Essentially the Bill is a technical measure. Indeed, it would have been wiser perhaps if the technical aspects had been fully explored and teased out in advance. What is perfectly obvious yet again is the need for an Oireachtas foreign affairs committee. I have been pressing for its establishment for years and could never understand the reluctance of Fianna Fáil to agree to the setting up of such a committee. I accept entirely that the Minister is an honourable exception to my strictures and that whatever progress has been made after years of stonewalling has been since his arrival in Iveagh House. I compliment him on his openness in that regard.

It would be fair to admit that nothing was done by successive administrations.

I think there will be good news in that regard in the very near future. I am grateful to the Deputy for his comments.

I can assure the Minister that there will be good news because I can tell him that one of the first acts of the next Fine Gael led Government will be the establishment of a foreign affairs committee, which I am convinced, will have a major impact on the development of policy in the area of the European Community and European affairs generally.

I look forward to becoming a member.

I would be delighted to be in a position to issue an invitation to the Minister. In the past we had the Oireachtas Committee on Development Co-operation which I always saw as a stepping stone to a foreign affairs comittee and I would now see that as an integral part or sub-committee of the proposed foreign affairs committee. We have had this hiatus since 1987 and, one way or the other, we are going to lay the foundation stone of a foreign affairs committee very shortly.

Never was it more necessary for Ireland to have an input into encouraging the development of a vision of Europe. At the moment the Presidency of the Council of Ministers is held by the UK which demonstrably lacks the capacity to give genuine European leadership at this time. It is very clear that their own troubles at home mean that they can give no leadership on the European scene. That is a matter of concern to all of us who want to see Europe giving effective leadership in the world. After the UK have completed their term we will have Denmark taking over the Presidency and poor old Denmark have even more acute political problems on European issues. As I see it there is a vacuum and something should be done to fill it. We must also consider what must be done to ensure that such a vacuum does not arise again.

Ireland has a role to play here. What we should be doing is looking at the structures of the European Community and making what I would regard as progressive proposals to improve them. I strongly believe that the proposals to reduce the powers of the European Commission are misdirected. On the contrary, we should encourage the enhancement of those powers. In the main, the Commission has always protected the role of the smaller member states. We should acknowledge this and ensure that its powers are enhanced rather than decreased so that it will continue to play this role in the future.

If we are going to give the European Commission more powers — this is one of my hobby-horses which I think deserves serious consideration — it needs to have a mandate to speak on behalf of all the people of Europe. Today is American presidential election day and all over the United States people will be casting their votes. I am not saying that the President of the European Commission has the same functions or powers as the President of the United States but we should consider whether the President of the European Commission should be directly elected. If the President of the European Commission was directly elected in a European-wide election the person elected could provide the leadership of which I speak.

There is also a need — this is of major relevance to us as one of the smaller member states of the European Community — to establish as one of the European institutions a directly elected European Senate with an equal number of senators from each member state and I make no apology for taking a leaf out of the Americans's book in that respect. At present the MEPs from the smaller member states in the European Parliament are outnumbered by the MEPs from the larger member states. We have 15 MEPs — Northern Ireland has three — as compared with a figure of 81 for some of the larger member states. If we had a senate with an equal number of senators from each member state, most countries would be far more inclined to give the European Parliament greater powers. We could do so secure in the knowledge that our interests would be protected by the establishment of a European Senate.

I do not believe, however, that there is any great anxiety at official level to transfer powers from the Council of Ministers to the European Parliament. I support the idea in theory but would be inclined to baulk at it in the context of our lack of numbers in the European Parliament but I would square the circle by pushing for the enhancement of the powers of the European Parliament and the establishement of a European Senate.

In relation to the structures of the Community there is one other proposal that I would like to make. The Government have missed an historic opportunity to make a plea for the establishment of the European Central Bank in Dublin. This bank — and I hope the Maastricht Treaty will be ratified — will be the focus of the Community as a single economic unit. It will set the Community's monetary policy and will have the ECU as its currency. It will also be hugely influential in advising the Community on fiscal and economic policy. Under the Treaty its independence is explicitly guaranteed but this does not mean that it will operate in isolation from the concerns and policy issues which will inform the decisions of the other institutions of the Community. Under the Treaty the President of the Council of Ministers and a designated member of the Commission will have the right to participate at all meetings of the governing council of the European Central Bank. In addition, the president of the bank will be allowed to participate at meetings of the Council of Ministers where banking issues arise. I would rate this institution as the equivalent of the big three — the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. Therefore, its importance is without question.

As everyone is aware, the bigger member states — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — are actively canvassing to have the bank established in their countries. I have heard that the French will agree to the establishment of the bank in Germany provided the Germans agree to drop their objection to the continuation of the European Parliament in Strasbourg while London is also pushing its case very hard, but it is my theory that Ireland has an historic opportunity to promote Dublin as a compromise location for the bank. I say this because the big three will not be able to agree readily among themselves and in a situation where the heavyweight members cannot reach agreement we could have an opportunity to slip through.

Given the establishment of the Financial Services Centre, the technological advances that have been made here and the fact that we have an educated work-force, there are strong and logical arguments for the establishment of the bank in Dublin but what is lacking is the political will to push the case. Because the prize is so great in terms of jobs, both direct and indirect, it would be worth mounting a major campaign to secure the establishment of the bank here. It was suggested that under the Maastricht Treaty some small scale institute would be established in Ireland, associated, I suppose with Loughlinstown, but this does not satisfy me. We have an opportunity to secure the establishment of the European Central Bank here and I would like to see that followed up and explored.

There is a need to review the way in which we can ensure effective communication between governments and electorates on what the European project is all about. It is clear that communication is a two-way process — it is not just about governments telling electorates what plans have been agreed for the future of Europe but rather about governments listening to people and taking account of their concerns about the direction in which Europe is going. This was obvious at the time of our own referendum campaign and perhaps more so at the time of the French referendum campaign. I would not be as positive as the Minister who in his speech mentioned that the Irish people were well informed in relation to the White Paper but it would have been marvellous if it had been published six to nine months earlier. However, it was published only six to eight weeks before the referendum was held. I do not think that this was good enough because attention was focused on this issue during this period only and it was then dropped and forgotten.

At European level, there was a recognition by the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jacques Delors, at the Birmingham Summit, of the need for contact between the European Commission and the national parliaments. In this regard I hope the proposal that a member of the Commission should be designated to keep in contact with national parliaments will be proceeded with. While important in itself, this will not be sufficient in that it amounts only to communication between one institution and another. I would like to see all our people embrace the European ideal with more enthusiasm.

If I recall correctly the only occasions on which there was any debate and discussion on Europe were at the time of our accession to the European Community, at the time of the referendum on the Single European Act and more recently at the time of the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. This does nothing for the development of the European ideal or widening appreciation on the part of our people of what is involved in our membership of the European family of nations. As a result, the European Community is seen either as a pork barrel from which we draw grants or, alternatively, as a bureaucratic jungle which lays down restrictions which annoy our citizens. The major responsibility rests with ourselves. All of us who are interested in the development of the European ideal should resolve that whatever the outcome of the next election there will be much more emphasis in debates in the Dáil and the Seanad, and more particularly in a foreign affairs committee, on issues of importance in the context of Europe. Only by ensuring that our legislators are fully informed will we have any chance of ensuring that public opinion is more informed and more supportive of the European ideal.

The Minister stated that Luxembourg, Greece and Italy have completed their retification procedures. A very important debate will be held in the UK tomorrow and we understand the position in Denmark, but I thought that France, following their referendum, would be on the list of countries who have completed their procedures. Perhaps the Minister would give an outline of the position in other countries. I am very enthusiastic about the proposal of the President of the Commission to launch a European growth initiative. I believe very strongly that there is a possibility of positive results of action on jobs if taken at European level. That is an issue that must have the enthusiastic response of us all and I hope it will lead to positive results.

I am a little concerned about the way the whole issue of subsidiarity has been dealt with at European community level. Subsidiarity now means all things to all men. The original theory of subsidiarity was based on the Papal Encyclical, Rerum Novarum of 1890. The principles laid down therein are looked on in different ways by different people depending on their perspective. The UK, which I would not regard as the most European-minded country, is enthusiastic about the principle of subsidiarity and the Minister enthusiastically endorsed the Commission's approach to subsidiarity, but my fear in this regard is that the possibility of taking action at European level, where it should be taken, will be avoided by those countries who do not want to see Europe develop in the way I would wish. I am thinking particularly in the context of public spending on education and health. To take education as an example, we have a very good standard of education but unfortunately many of our people have to emigrate to other parts of the European Community. There should be recognition of that in the context of the development of Europe in the future. If we are to be a nursery for highly qualified graduates for other member states of the Community there should be an acknowledgement of that in terms of a policy at European level. I would not like to see the principles of subsidiarity used to undermine any such approach.

Sufficient thought has not been given to the development of the common foreign and Community policy in the years ahead. As regards the crisis in Yugoslavia, the efforts of the European Community have been a little pathetic. It has often been said that the European Community is an economic giant, a political pygmy and a military midget. Never was that more obvious than in the feebleminded way in which it responded to the crisis in Yugoslavia and its component parts. I am concerned that during the coming winter tens of thousands of people in Bosnia Herzegovina and other parts of former Yugoslavia will die from hunger, starvation and cold. Yet the European Community seem helpless in preventing such a calamity.

I would like to see in the run-up to the next referendum in 1996 an analysis of the present position from the point of view of common foreign policy, security and defence and of our outlook on neutrality, and a frank and open debate on that matter. There is a hedging around as to what may be involved in a common security and foreign policy for the Community. An effective and coherent debate in the years ahead should not be evaded because of any notion about sacred cows, that are no longer relevant to the present position. I am urging a very frank and open debate in the years ahead so that by the time the intergovernmental conference is held in a couple of years' time and the holding of the referendum thereafter, the public will be fully informed and aware of the issues.

On the question of Somalia, I compliment the Minister for the contribution he has made in that regard. We were all very heartened by the initial steps he took in going to that country, by the visit of the President and the way in which she took to her heart the people of Somalia and acted as a voice for them. That had a major impact on our people but, unfortunately, considering the way matters are continuing to develop there and the fact that the problem is worsening it will be necessary for the Minister to continue pushing the effort.

The full complement of UN troops has not been deployed and relief shipments are not properly safeguarded. I was appalled at the resignation of Ambassador Sahnoun who apparently had the temerity to question the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the United Nations operation. He should be complimented on that. It gives me no great confidence in the UN operation that somebody who had the guts to stand up and give legitimate, frank, open and honest criticism of what deserved to be criticised, ended up without a job. I know nothing about the new man, Ambassador Kittani, but I only hope he is half as good as his predecessor. I hope he will not accept silently deficiences in the UN operation. We will be watching his progress. If we are to have credibility abroad we need to maintain our effort and to give example by redressing our appalling record of official aid since 1987. I think the Minister will agree that his efforts abroad would have much more credibility if we were seen to do more at home at official level. There has been an enormous response at voluntary level.

There is another aspect of the United Nations on which I would like to see future policy mapped out, that is the role of the UN in international and regional conflicts. I am glad the UN are taking a more up-front role in this regard and I am proud of our record in UN peacekeeping operations, but we must address the development of that role in future. The Charter of the United Nations restricts such development in that Article 7 restricts interference in the internal affairs of a member of the United Nations. That provision should be changed to ensure that where there is evidence of blatant breaches or gross violations of human rights, such as genocide, there should be an automatic right on the part of the United Nations to intervene. Certainly there should not be a restriction in the Charter preventing the United Nations from intervening in such circumstances.

I am referring to areas in which we should have more detailed debates — future development of policy, future development of the United Nations and future development of the European Community. I look forward — in Government or in Opposition — to participating in those debates and, in the meantime, I support the Bill before the House.

The Government negotiated the Maastricht Treaty in secret in the sense that, while there was plenty of discussion in this House in at least four separate debates, we were not fully aware at any stage as to what precisely the Government's advance position was, until the conclusion of the Maastricht Treaty. We were not informed that the infamous Protocol 17 was being drafted and inserted in the Treaty and, therefore, we do not know to what extent the Treaty represents a success or defeat for Government negotiation. All we know is that they brought it to this House and subsequently proposed the referendum debate, the result of which is well known. In that debate Deputy Jim O'Keeffe said that Fine Gael "entirely approved the Maastricht Treaty", this afternoon he used the words "entire approval" when referring to the Treaty.

The Labour Party did not entirely approve of the Maastricht Treaty because we felt that in many respects it was a compromise which fell very much short of the objectives which we would set for the future development of the European Community into European Union. In a document — which I laid before the House on a previous occasion — we published a clear and critical analysis of the shortcomings in the Maastricht Treaty. Notwithstanding that, we still recognised that the Treaty represented a significant step forward and that, on balance, it should be approved by the people. We campaigned, with our colleagues and friends in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, on that basis; the result was approximately 70 per cent, to 30 per cent, in favour.

However, one of the main concerns which arose during the course of the Danish referendum — and subsequently in the French referendum — was the lack of democratic accountability and transparency in relation to how the Community has conducted its affairs to date and how it proposes to do so in future. It is relevant to read into the record of the House the considered report which was prepared by the body which is the only directly elected Assembly under the Treaty's various provisions — the European Parliament. It was the first Parliament of the 13 parliamentary institutions — if you include the European Parliament with the 12 national governments — to approve it by a large majority, 226-62, with only 31 abstentions. The European Parliament adopted that resolution on 7 April. However, they did so with many reservations, which I will read into the record, because they are apposite to what the Minister said during his contribution. I quote from European Parliament — Maastricht — The Treaty on European Union, the position of the European Parliament.

A. whereas the European Parliament defined the essential elements of European Union as being:

"— economic and monetary union with a single currency and an autonomous central bank;

— a common foreign policy, including joint consideration of the issues of peace, security and arms control;

— a completed single market with common policies in all the areas in which the economic integration and mutual interdependence of the Member States require common action notably to ensure economic and social cohesion and a balanced environment;

— element of common citizenship and a common framework for protecting basic rights;

— an institutional system which is sufficiently efficient to manage these responsibilities effectively and which is democratically structured, notably by giving the European Parliament a right of initiative, of co-decision with the Council on Community legislation, the right to ratify all constitutional decisions requiring the ratification of the Member States also and the right to elect the President of the Commission";²

B. whereas the Treaty of Maastricht contains provisions which are inconsistent with regard to the above requirements and whereas although some progress has been achieved on European Monetary Union, common policies and citizenship, the institutional system contains shortcomings to the extent that it is doubtful whether the European Union will be able to achieve its proclaimed objectives, especially if its membership is enlarged, and whereas it has not eliminated the parliamentary democratic deficit;

C. whereas the Intergovernmental Conferences themselves recognised the insufficiency of their achievements in that they provided in the Treaty for a new Intergovernmental Conference in 1996;

D. whereas, at the intergovernmental conference, a temporary mandate was given for further improvements to be made by the end of 1992 and a decision was taken to create a cohesion fund;

In general

1. Urges the national parliaments to ratify the Treaty of Maastricht, and at the same time commit their respective governments to redress at the earliest opportunity its major shortcomings summed up in this resolution in accordance with the final declaration of the Conference of Parliaments of the European Community;

The Labour Party are in accord with that opening assessment by the vast majority of the European Parliament members and it is worth reading into the record the conclusions of this very substantial analysis by the people who are directly charged by European citizens to provide the democratic watchdog of the European institutions:


15. Express its determination, as with the Single European Act to:

— exploit to the very limit the possibilities offered by the Treaty of Maastricht;

— to pursue its endeavours to obtain a democratic and effective European Union of federal type;

16. In this light:

(a) invites the national parliaments, when ratifying the Treaty, to call on their respective governments:

— to prepare the next Intergovernmental Conference in order to eliminate the shortcomings of the Treaty of Maastricht in particular as regards the remaining democratic deficit and the efficiency of the decision making process;

— to undertake not to make use in Council of the provisions of pargraph 6 of Article 189b which allows Council to act unilaterally in the event of conciliation failing to reach agreement, and not to adopt in Council any legislative act which Parliament has earlier rejected by absolute majority;

— to relaunch the strategy worked out at the Conference of the Parliaments of the Community, with particular regard to the need to transform the network of relations between the peoples and member countries into a European Union on a federal basis based on a draft constitution drawn up by the European Parliament in cooperation with the national parliaments;

(b) invites the Council and the Commission, as in the past, to enter into interinstitutional agreements with the Parliament to ensure that new treaties are applied in the most constructive and democratic way possible;

(c) invites the governments of the Member States to involve Parliament, before the European Council meeting in Lisbon, in the designation of the President and members of the next Commission of the European Communities, whose term of office will take effect on 1 January 1993 and which will exercise the powers conferred upon it by the Maastricht Treaty; declares here and now that it will consider the submission of the Commission's programme of work as an opportunity to pass a vote of confidence or no confidence in the Commission;

(d) invites the Commission, wherever legally possible, to choose for is proposals legal bases that require the co-decision procedure and expects the Commission to withdraw its proposals where, under that procedure, Council and Parliament fail to reach agreement in the conciliation committee or where, under the consultation and co-operation procedures, Parliament rejects a text;

(e) invites the Council to make use of the "passerelle" provided for in Article K.9 of the Treaty of Maastricht and thereby transfer matters concerning justice and home affairs to the field of competence of the European Community;

(f) instructs the responsible parliamentary organs to prepare a reform of Parliament's working methods that will enable it to make full use of the new procedures and to take the necessary measures within their field of responsibility, bearing in mind the obligation imposed by Article F (3) of the Maastricht Treaty for the union to "provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies";

(g) undertakes to begin already preparations for a new revision of the treaties which should aim to eliminate the shortcomings of the Treaty of Maastricht; believes that many of the issues must be addressed before the Intergovernmental Conference scheduled in 1996, in particular because treaty amendments are necessary:

— to adjust the number of members of the European Parliament for German unity;

— to allow the accession of new Member States which requires a significant improvement in decision-taking procedures, notably as regards Parliament's right of co-decision and the functioning of Council;

— to remedy the democratic deficit;

(h) stresses that it will not be able to agree to the accession of new Member States unless further reforms are adopted in addition to the Maastricht Treaty, in particular concerning the elimination of the democratic deficit and the consolidation of the principles and aims on which Political Union is based;

(i) instructs its responsible committee to complete its preparation of a draft constitution as set out in its resolution of 11 July 1990 on the European Parliament's guidelines for a draft constitution for the European Union through procedures involving the national parliaments as provided for in the Final Declaration of the Conference of the parliaments of the European Community of November 1990 in Rome;

I should apologise for reading so much text into the record but the House will agree it is relevant. What is most relevant about it is that it was passed as far back as 7 April 1992, at least two months before the Danish people came up with their so-called surprise. Had the Governments of all member states, including ours, been listening to the combined wisdom of the 226 members of the European Parliament, then much of the so-called surprise that confronted the institutional decision-makers in the Community, including various Governments, would not have occurred. It is for that reason — in supporting this technical Bill to give effect to the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty by the Oireachtas, as already agreed substantially by the Irish people in the relevant referendum — I want to put formally on the record the position of the Labour Party in this regard. We are in full accord with the conclusions of the European Parliament which had the full support of the Socialist group of that Parliament, of which we are members.

I invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs — whose personal commitment in these matters is not in doubt — to take to heart the measures referred to in such detail in the report I quoted. As I indicated, I merely read out the conclusions of a substantial analytical document. The significance of that report is that it was prepared and ratified by the very people charged uniquely with making a democratic European union work with few exceptions right across the political spectrum.

Will the Minister who has had an opportunity to experience such matters as a Government backbencher, an Opposition Deputy and now as a senior Cabinet Minister, say whether from his experience of Council meetings, he thinks that there should be an end to the facade of private meetings taking place at Council meetings. Members rush out the moment they have made their presentation to the Council to brief journalists putting a spin on the story that will be reported back home as to how well or how hard a Minister tried to get a point of view in the national interest through to an unwilling Council of Ministers. Bearing in mind the difficulties attached to the Danish and French referenda, discounting the domestic factors involved, would he agree that now is the time to open up all meetings of the Council of Ministers?

We all know that, within the existing framework of Council of Ministers meetings, there are periods of privacy, for example over lunch when increasingly — at least in my experience — any matter considered to be somewhat contentious within the full session of the Council is referred to either by the President or a member of the Commission as one that might usefully be the subject of informal discussion on the margins. There are many institutional mechanisms at Council level which would enable sensitive, delicate matters to be handled in a manner which would not in any way drive decision-making down the corridors away from a properly constituted representative body. On this point it is essential that the trappings, workings and deliberations of the decision-making processes of the Council of Ministers and therefore, the Commission, should be opened up to the press. I would be interested to hear the Minister's view in regard to that matter.

I would also be interested to hear the attitude of the Government to the idea — again I am quoting from the recommendations of the Parliament — that while the President of the Commission may be nominated to the European Parliament by the Council, the European Parliament should have the right to confirm that nomination. Indeed, not only should the Parliament have the right to confirm the President but also the nomination of members of the Commission. This would mean that the executive of the Community, the Commission, would in some way be directly accountable to the elected Parliamentary Assembly of that union, the Parliament in Strasbourg. If there is not that inter-connection between responsibility and accountability, which has at its foundation a democratic base, then the gap in credibility manifest across Europe at present will remain if not deepen.

From the point of view of our State and Government it is in our interest to proceed with enlargement of the EFTA group of countries as soon as possible. The Council meeting at Lisbon decided that that would not take place until such time as the Maastricht Treaty was properly ratified, the timetable for which I imagine has been postponed for at least six months. The fact that Sweden, Austria and Finland have formally applied for full membership and the probability that Switzerland and Norway will lodge such an application means that they would be net contributors, not in a financial sense, to the ethos of the Community. They would be net contributors in a political sense, in that they would reflect a set of social values in the political arena to which, broadly speaking, Ireland could give its full support, although I suspect the Progressive Democrats might have a certain difficulty with it.

The prevailing social democratic attitude that underpins the commitment to full employment, for example — the hallmark of the policies pursued by Governments in Finland, Austria and Sweden — are the values we need to have articulated and represented at the Council of Ministers when, with majority decision-making in place, we seek the kind of growth initiative for which President Delors sought support, without great success it has to be said in Birmingham. So long as the prevailing conservative views dominate the decision-making of the Council, then we shall not get the type of economic relaunch of the European Community that is needed.

As the Parliament has a final say in regard to additional membership of the Community, it is in our interest to take into account the concerns expressed by the Parliament, so substantially detailed in their report.

I turn now to an aspect of the European debate on the Maastricht Treaty that agitated people here in a big way. A view was expressed, erroneously but nevertheless understandably because of the complexity of the Treaty and the inadequate manner in which it was presented — it was shared by many people — that the Community, in a sense, was turning its back on the rest of the world, in particular on the Third World. The view was that the Community was drawing up the drawbridge of human development and progress and leaving behind large parts of the world for which Europe had a substantial responsibility having regard to its past colonial record. The Minister's visit to Somalia soon after his appointment was a positive step in changing that perception. I congratulate the Minister on it. The subsequent visit by my party colleague, Deputy Michael Higgins to Somalia added to that perspective which is shared right across the political spectrum in Ireland. The folk memory of the horror of the Famine in Ireland is locked into our genes.

I am sorry to interrupt, but I too would like to pay tribute to Deputy Michael Higgins. I omitted to do so in my opening statement. The Deputy did a very courageous and generous thing but one has come to expect that from the Deputy.

Thank you. Both visits ultimately led to the request for the visit by President Robinson to Somalia. I agree with the sentiments that have been expressed. I appreciate the unique generosity with which the Minister has acknowledged her contribution. That is all the more reason to harness within the European Community framework of Ireland's commitment to the Community the emotional energy of a large section of the Irish people who have a strong commitment to development and the promotion of an improvement in living and working conditions in the Third World. If we fail to persuade a large section of the Irish public that the European Community has an interest in these areas and a substantial contribution to make, we will have failed in our duty. The way in which Ireland is uniquely associated with the various Lomé conventions, the first of which was signed during our first presidency in 1973-74 and the whole process of the European Development Fund is an indication that Ireland has some authority in this area. As Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy O'Keeffe played a significant role during a subsequent Irish presidency in convincing other European colleagues to respond to the Bob Geldof Live Aid initiative during the Ethiopian food crisis. There is a large body of concerned citizenry in the Irish body politic who are committed to development issues who have not been adequately informed of the potential commitment of the European Community to a better world. That should be addressed by the Government. The best way to do this is through the rapid establishment of the committee on foreign affairs which would allow us to address those issues.

I was a member of the committee on secondary European legislation for a period of four years. I do not share the Minister's view in relation to its usefulness or its own perception of its relevance. Frequently we found ourselves dancing to somebody else's tune, working to somebody else's agenda and discussing in minute detail draft directives which would be implemented anyway and into which we had little if no input. I can recall only one occasion in four years where the report prepared by the committee was debated on the floor of this House and that referred to the rights of cultural workers to social welfare entitlements and so on. It was a relatively important but nevertheless very small item on the European stage at the time. It would be incorrect and politically unwise to suggest that there was a great body of experience to be gained from the contributions of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. We have moved too far and too fast for that model to be applicable anymore. I hope that when establishing the foreign affairs committee the Minister will display the kind of generosity he displayed so far and make available the necessary specialist staff it will require to do their work effectively. If the committee cannot produce the kind of incisive reporting analysis necessary it will simply become an ineffective talking shop.

We recognised the major deficiencies in the Maastricht Treaty. We documented them and we engaged a large element of our party membership in that process, from within the Oireachtas and from outside it. We also had consultations with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the constituent unions affiliated to the Labour Party. Broadly speaking, we accept that Europe is the avenue which provides the future for this country but we will travel successfully only if we travel critically. The debate we had in the run up to the Maastricht Treaty is not the type of debate we should continue with. We did not have the critical debate that was essential.

The debate today concerns the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1992, which is intended to bring into Irish law the effects of the Maastricht Treaty adopted overwhelmingly by the people in June. I sought earlier today to seek to have the motion which would have ratified those treaties by this House voted on and I was defeated by a procedural device regrettably brought forward by the Labour Party. The reason I sought to do that was not, as suggested, because I was prepared to face down the decision of the people, but because the debate that took place at the time of the referendum, and the nature of the debate in terms of the choice that was offered, was not adequate. One had to take Maastricht in total or leave the Community. It was stated that we would be driven out of the Community if we did not accept Maastricht. We were told that if we did not accept Maastricht we would not get the £6 billion which we were told was sewn up and was guaranteed. We even had Mr. Delors, the Commission President, trotted out to make statements assuring us that of course his package was virtually on line and that there was no question but that it would be forthcoming if and when the Maastricht Treaty was ratified. We know that that is not the case.

Before we voted we knew that Denmark had clearly indicated that they were not happy with the Maastricht Treaty as it stood. We know that a huge proportion of the French electorate are not happy with it, that a significant proportion of the electorate here are not happy with it, and we can see the turmoil that is growing in Britain. I do not suggest that the dissatisfaction is the same in all cases in all countries or that the reason for it is the same, but there is a general unease that a Treaty is being implemented and the people generally did not have adequate time to address themselves to it and to understand it. Under the Treaty the people are giving away powers and they are not really all that happy about giving them away at this time.

One of the basis on which we opposed this Treaty related to the common foreign and security policy. It is interesting that in the explanatory memorandum to this Bill, it says, in relation to section 2 (b):

The competences in question do not relate to any treaties, acts or provisions other than those set out in section 1 (as amended) of the European Communities Act, 1972. They do not therefore relate to Title V of the Treaty on European Union (provisions on a common foreign and security policy) where no requirement for domestic legislation is envisaged; or to Title VI of the Treaty (provisions on co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs) for which, though legislation may be required at some stage in the future, it is not required and would not be appropriate at present.

I am not suggesting for one minute that anything is being deliberately withheld from us in that statement but generally explanatory memoranda present the positive aspects of a Bill. Given that the Minister is responsible for the Bill and the explanatory memorandum I would not expect him to point out its shortcomings, but by excluding these area of our domestic legislation from the scrutiny, by and large, of the European Parliament and the European Court, we are denying ourselves the right to have a direct influence as a people in regard to those areas.

We had considerable concerns in regard to the question of a common foreign and security policy during the Maastricht referendum campaign and we still have those concerns. The common foreign and security policy involves an intergovernmental body who operate outside the Treaty of Rome and the European Community proper. The European Council — that is the Summit — will decide the general guidelines and the Council of Ministers will make decisions with regard to implementation. Both those bodies meet behind closed doors and release the absolute minimum amount of information and sometimes even more.

Defence matters — that is military implications — are to be subcontracted under this Treaty to the Western European Union with regard to "elaboration and implementation". The European Parliament, European Court and Commission are effectively excluded from the decision-making and overseeing process. This exclusion of Parliament is even greater than for other areas of Union competency and much less than in community matters which, in itself, does not say much. It will be consulted in regard to the main choices of the common foreign and security policy, for example, it will be informed of the actions of the Union in regard to arms control, economic facets of security, the transfer of military technology and arms exports. It will be informed, but cannot approve or reject anything.

The Council of Ministers will be advised by a political committee of civil servants from the member states which shall "prepare decisions for the Council of Ministers" and shall be responsible for monitoring the implementation of agreed policies. We will not necessarily be told who they are, when they meet or what topics they have discussed. They are not answerable or accountable to any parliament or to any person who is answerable to parliament.

The Western European Union Council will not be short of advisers either. It will have a European security and defence academy. Since 19 June of this year it has a military planning think tank with military officers from the nine member countries to give it credibility and real military expertise. One need not be an outright cynic to suggest that civilian and military specialist advisers with careers connected to security development will not underestimate the need for more security and defence initiatives and will advise their Ministers accordingly.

In effect, therefore, policy and actions under the common foreign and security policy will be devised by unelected and unidentifiable committee of civil servants and military officers. Their prepared decisions will be adopted by their respective Councils of Ministers and the Western European Union, increasingly the same body, meeting in closed session and without any parliamentary control or scrutiny. Based on past experience, there is precious little hope that this lack of democratic control or overseeing will be rectified at national level, certainly in the Dáil. Irish Ministers in the Council are notorious for the zeal with which they guard information about business which they are going to discuss or have discussed in Council. Some people suspect that this reluctance to inform is partly related to the fear that the necessity to explain might expose gaps in understanding.

The conditioned reaction to any issue dealing with defence and security is to deny it totally if possible and, if not, to deny it could possibly have any effect on our neutrality. Accordingly, any such decisions, we are told, do not matter, do not apply to us and, therefore, do not necessitate the prior notification of the approval of the Dáil. This was the case in regard to refuelling at Shannon during the Gulf War, over flights to bomb Libya and the Single European Act when the people were only consulted following a Supreme Court order.

We first attended and now we are becoming observers and may well join — we have not been told yet — the Western European Union in the same fashion. In any event, the declaration on voting in the common foreign and security policy provisions provide the perfect excuse for domestic consumption: we did our best and resisted heroically but we could not resist the persuasiveness of the qualified majority in the end.

That is a brief summary of the serious concerns that still exist in regard to the common foreign and security provision of Maastricht which we are told are not covered by this Bill and which we were told during the Maastricht referendum campaign did not affect the position in regard to our neutrality. It is way past time we had a foreign affairs committee of this House which would have the right to examine in detail what our Government representatives are doing at EC level. I am not concerned whether that requires a separate European affairs committee or a sub-committee of the foreign affairs committee that we are promised. In my view, there should be a separate European affairs committee but no matter what way it is done there is an urgent need to enable the Members of this House to examine what is being done and not being done in our name and what case is not being put on our behalf, particularly in regard to defence policies.

During the referendum campaign I went to great pains to point out that I was not opposed to this country involved in a defence arrangement at European level. I made it clear that as far as I was concerned the traditional notion of neutrality, which regarded us as having to be isolated in Europe or elsewhere, was no longer valid. The world has moved on since the forties. We have a completely new world order, not one that I would choose having regard to the injustices that exist in the world and the way resources are squandered on arms while millions starve. Nevertheless, there is a new order and our voice should be heard in relation to how the world can disarm itself, particularly in regard to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It is a crime that so much of the world's resources are being spent on such weapons at a time when the majority of people in the world go to bed hungry at night, that is if they have a bed at all. In that regard I want to put on record my admiration for the stance taken by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the past on these issues. I welcome the initiative he is taking at present in relation to the non-proliferation treaty. It is long past time that Ireland should play an active role in tha area.

I hope the Minister will respond with action in regard to a European affairs committee and a foreign affairs committee which would give this House a role in the development of our foreign policy, and our defence policy with regard to Europe. We should not be left in the position that in four or five years time a Government could come into this House and tell us that if we do not accept what is being proposed we will be pushed out of the Community. That is not good enough. We have to be involved from day one, from now, in any negotiations that are taking place on how the European Community develops its defence policies. I do not want to spend all my time on this issue but it would be my view that any European defence must, as a prerequisite, deny itself the luxury of nuclear deterrents. That is a bottom line which this country should insist on.

Regarding the economic aspect of this Treaty, there are similar problems. More than three million citizens of the European Community are homeless. Approximately 15 million of the labour force are unemployed and almost 60 million citizens of the European Community are living below the poverty line. Those are the official statistics of the European Community. It seems to me that the more European voters and people generally have an opportunity to think about Maastricht, and the more they learn about it, the more they are inclined to question it and, in some cases, to reject it. The result, in my view, is that the entire European integration project is in jeopardy. It is not good enough for our Government or other European Governments to simply say that this process must continue at any cost, that it must carry on. It simply will not work if it does not have the support of the people of the member states of the Community. Far from progress towards integration, with Maastricht as the vehicle that will help to reduce the economic and political problems of the Community, it is my view that, as it is currently promoted, it is adding to those problems. I have no doubt whatsoever that the sense of alienation that people are feeling, particularly amongst the more marginalised of the people of Europe, is feeding the more virulent forms of nationalism that are now rampant in many parts of Europe. Indeed, a self-interested regionalism is also developing which, I believe, can only be to the detriment of the development of an integrated federal Europe.

In response to these kind of risks I do not feel it is sufficient to repeat ad nauseam the mantra that Maastricht must be ratified with all speed without any recognition of its growing unpopularity or any attempt to rectify its now widely recognised deficiencies. It seems to me that the recent attempt at the Birmingham Summit to gloss over those cracks was anything but successful.

On the economic situation, we are told that member states face common economic challenges. The EC goes on to prescribe more of the same medicine that we have had up to now: continuation of policies to reduce inflation and to control budget deficits so as to meet European Monetary Union conversions terms. They say that this is the way to the recovery of economic and social cohesion and the creation of the new and lasting jobs that are needed. There is no hint of how the same policies which led us into this mess should now, miraculously, bring us out of it. Since our referendum the anarchy in the financial markets is fresh in everybody's minds. The Birmingham Summit was convened initially to try to respond to that crisis. In the end it backed away from it. It stated that there was a need for reflection and analysis, and then passed the buck to a variety of committees to "carry the work forward". Whatever that phrase means, if indeed it means anything, it certainly contains no proposals for how a recurrence of Black Wednesday can be prevented.

The referendum held in this country was sold to the people on the basis that they must take it or leave it, take Maastricht or leave the Community. That was an exaggeration of the position but nevertheless it was the basis on which the case was made. The much promised £6 billion for Ireland was, apparently, not even discussed at the Birmingham Summit. The ground is clearly now being prepared for the virtual certainty that the £6 billion will not materialise at all, despite having been told that this was one of the main reasons why we should accept Maastricht. Both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance are suggesting that matters are tightening up everywhere and that there is much tough negotiating to be done. I am sure there is, but I am quite certain that we will next be told that it was a negotiating tactic to claim that we were getting £6 billion in the first place. With expectations having to be kept high in order to obtain the optimum outcome, it would be an apt epitaph to a sorry saga of dishonesty — and I must ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle if I am in order in using the word dishonesty in the House in view of the current row regarding charges and counter-charges in relation to that word——

The Deputy had used the word before he sought permission.

I have used it here before and it has never caused the collapse of a Government. I do not expect that it will do so on this occasion either. Some people seem to be particularly concerned about the word, particularly during the referendum campaign and, I believe, wrong-headed negotiating tactics and objectives.

If the original Delors II proposals and the crucial component of a phased increase in the budget from 1.2 per cent of Community GNP in 1993 to 1.37 per cent in 1977 had been implemented in full, and if the promised average growth of 2.5 per cent per annum had materialised, unemployment in the Community would still be approximately 500,000 higher in 1997 than it is today. Instead of which the Community is heading into a deepening recession with 2 per cent of the projected growth lost during 1992 and 1993 alone. The collapse of the GATT talks — and no sign of real progress there — continued recession in the EFTA countries and the US, plus the turbulence in the financial markets are likely to cause those growth rates to be revised downwards even further. On top of that, the richer countries in the European Community are refusing to pay and even a Commission proposal of a two-year pause, that is no increase until 1995 at least, is not acceptable to them.

The £6 billion figure was always an exaggeration in that it failed to take account of the impact of the former GDR, and that proportionately Ireland's share of whatever cake was there was likely to decline. Instead of facing up to the reality and adopting an alternative strategy, this Government opted for short term political advantage last June which they hope will see them past the next election also.

The fundamental error from the outset of the negotiations was to focus on an increase in the Structural Funds as the solution to our cohesion problems. We should have pressed for a system of financial transfers such as those which apply in other federal systems. The Structural Funds are not the best means of utilising the moneys which we receive. I have argued before in this House that equivalent measures to reduce the national debt would yield a far better and more beneficial return. The biggest and most incomprehensible mistake, however, was to oppose the development of a genuine common European industrial policy. We should put less emphasis on Structural Funds, which we get by grace and favour, and instead support the creation of an interventionist industrial policy which would put the objective of regional cohesion at the heart of efforts to raise the technological capability of European firms.

The crucial question for peripheral regions of Europe, such as Ireland, is not Euro handouts, not the begging bowl, but rather the investment and divestment decisions of the European multinationals who are being supported by the Community to face US and Japanese competition. That is the way to real wealth creation and a meaningful shift of the tools to create that wealth from the overcrowded centre of Europe to the periphery. This time last year I made precisely that point in this House during a pre-Maastricht Treaty debate but, of course, I was shot down by the previous Taoiseach, who thought that interventionism existed only in the Eastern European states. The former Taoiseach's party had been pursuing interventionism virtually since the day they were founded. Even though he has now resigned and we have a new Taoiseach and a new Government there is still no sign that the Government are prepared to fight for such a real deepening of an integrated European union.

As I said repeatedly, there is no future for the Irish economy outside the European Community. That is not an option, nor has it been an option for many years. Most of our economic policy and our hopes for a reasonable degree of prosperity depend on decisions taken at European level. In many cases, and increasingly, they depend on decisions that need to be taken at an even wider international level in fora in which our interests can be adequately represented only as part of the European Community.

The Maastricht Treaty, particularly economic and monetary union, and the Delors II package, its medium-term economic and fiscal policy adjunct, determine the parameters within which we must operate for the rest of this century. If that is not right we are in serious trouble because there are virtually no mechanisms left to us which can be used at national level to change course or to correct mistakes. Financial deregulation and the globalisation of trade have led to a position in which even the European Community is not a superpower.

In the weeks immediately prior to the Maastricht Summit — about this time last year — I published a document which, in addition to the neutrality issue, highlighted two major shortcomings in the draft Treaty, then about to be finalised. The two major shortcomings I highlighted were the inherent lack of democracy and openness and the inadequate provisions for regional and social solidarity. In the months that followed, leading up to the June referendum, I argued for rejection of the Treaty on the grounds that its shortcomings in those two areas were so great that it should be rejected and renegotiated. I maintained then that the Treaty and the Delors II package, by which we were handing over what power we had left, failed to deal with the issues concerning ordinary people, failed to concern itself with poverty and unemployment, and failed to offer reassurance to the tens of millions of people across Europe in insecure and low-paid employment that conditions would improve or that they would even be sure of what they currently had.

In arguing that case, my party came up against almost the entire Irish political establishment — in the broadest sense of that term — who ridiculed the notion that one could be pro-Europe and opposed to the Maastricht Treaty. With the benefit of hindsight, I have no hesitation in claiming that our position has been vindicated by subsequent events here and elsewhere in Europe. I note that in Ireland in recent months some of the sheep have tentatively detached themselves from the Maastricht fold, having discovered hitherto hidden defects. Elsewhere, hitherto visionary statesmen are wondering what went wrong.

The issue is quite simple: the Maastricht Treaty was negotiated behind closed doors by a closed circle of technocrats and Euro-enthusiasts who, deluded by a combination of elitism and self-interest, felt that anybody outside their circle would not properly understand or recognise what was good for them. That lack of exposure to the reality of daily life — in other words, the lack of democracy — meant that when the treaty was put to the test it did not have enough to offer in the way of solutions to the economic and social problems of the real world. Democratisation is, therefore, inextricably linked with and complementary to other measures in the economic and social sphere. It is not and should never be regarded as an optional add-on.

Whether or not the Maastricht Treaty is ratified by the United Kingdom or Denmark, in whatever way it is finally ratified, we still need a new treaty to rectify the glaring shortcomings which have been recogised, if not admitted, and to prepare for enlargement to include the EFTA countries that are seeking entry to the Community.

Having botched the present effort, the Council of Ministers should not be allowed the freedom to do the same again. As a first step in this process an Assizes of the Community's 13 parliaments should be convened along the lines of the Conference of Parliaments which met in Rome in November 1990. That meeting should be charged with redirecting and giving fresh impetus to the integration process and laying down guidelines for a further intergovernmental conference to be convened in 1993, which should have completed their work by the time of the European elections due in 1994.

The Chair is conscious of the proven capacity of Deputy De Rossa to tailor his thoughts to time, and would now welcome that little phrase, "in conclusion".

I shall begin my conclusion by saying that apart from a new treaty we need also a constitution, which should be drawn up by the European Parliament and should be submitted for ratification to the national parliaments. That constitution should include a fundamental principle that all legislative deliberations be carried out in public and that at whatever level power is exercised it should be subject to effective control by and only with the approval of directly elected parliaments.

I urge the House to defer approval of the legislation before us, not as a means of second-guessing the decision of the people in relation to the Maastricht Treaty but as a means of recognising that things have changed since the people voted on the Maastricht Treaty. If for no other reason than as a negotiating stance we should say that we will not proceed further with the ratification of the Treaty until the Cohesion Fund is in place and until there are genuine steps towards democratising the institutions — genuine steps towards democratising the common foreign and security policy areas. These are essentials if the European Community is to survive in a coherent fashion and not break down — as seems to be happening — into many regional conflicts and issues of self-interest.

I welcome the opportunity of speaking on this important Bill, which puts into Irish law the appropriate elements of that Treaty. Much of Deputy De Rossa's contribution was confined to what will not be part of our law but is part of the Treaty. I wish to comment on the contributions by the two Deputies whom I heard, Deputies De Rossa and Quinn.

The approach of Deputy De Rossa and his party to the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty and their views on the Treaty took me by surprise. This group, who are relatively intelligent and whom I found to be occasionally pragmatic, at times found themselves rather uncomfortable with their position. Even the attitude of Deputy De Rossa tonight — one of "let us postpone it, let us try to dress it up a bit more"— showed his party's opposition was not wholehearted. The Democratic Left Party's position seems to be based on a fear of Europe and of our capacity to make an influence in Europe. By contrast, the tradition of Fine Gael has been very much pro-European. By and large we recognise Europe as a place where we can influence, perhaps over and above what our size might merit, the existing structures. Indeed, some of our personnel have played very significant roles — Deputy Garret FitzGerald stands out in that context — in speeding up the process of deeper union. It is strange that on the occasion when the President, whom the Democratic Left so wholeheartedly supported, addressed this House, she spoke on the themes of our ability to face into Europe, to take our Irishness, our priorities, our desire to see development in certain ways in defence and in social issues and to back them from the inside rather than hold back and be afraid to participate lest we would not be able to influence matters in the way we would wish.

I strongly support the remarks made by Deputy Quinn in relation to the element of the Treaty that deals with policy and development cooperation and the Minister's remarks on Somalia. Somalia is the most moving aspect of the deep crisis facing Africa and the bulk of the African Continent. It is a matter of grave concern to any of us who has taken an interest in development matters that in recent months there appears to be, in the face of this deepening crisis, talk of a change in policy in this area.

Like other speakers — and I am sure I can anticipate the remarks of Deputy M. Higgins in this area — I urge the Minister to do a number of things at European level. The most important of these is to oppose any attempt to reduce the level of aid. I would urge him to point out how indefensible, how anti-European and how anti-commitment to world order any principles of justice such a movement would be at a time when the need has never been greater in Africa and in other parts of the world, as evidence in Somalia, where the problems are so far from being resolved despite being in the public domain for so long. I pay tribute to the Minister for his efforts in Somalia and I look forward to the budgetary input of the Government to redress the declining balance of our financial commitment as a means of underlining our sincerity. I am aware the Minister has made public statements in relation to this issue. If we are in a position to influence a budget we have a publicly stated commitment which will be honoured.

In the context of continuing uncertainty about the overall process of ratification I have no information about the debate taking place in the British parliament today. We know there are moves afoot to resolve the Danish situation. It is important for us to use this opportunity to ensure that we learn from our own referendum campaign the real concerns that emerged, those expressed by the President when she addressed the House and those felt more extensively and which almost led to the defeat of the Treaty in other member states. I share with Deputy De Rossa concern about the manner in which the referendum debate was presented to the people. The question of the near bribery of the cohesion funds and the take it or leave it approach — if we are not in we are out — did no justice to those of us who are seriously committed to Europe and who see Europe as a place which means much more than the attitude which was presented and which coloured the debate. However, it is a testimony to the good sense of the Irish people that they could analyse and assess what Europe has meant and how positive it has been for Ireland. The Fine Gael Party are entirely committed to the European process.

The Maastricht Treaty is effectively an amendment of the Treaty of Rome. We are amending legislation effected by a substantial part of the Treaty. For me it involves a deepening of a relationship which, by and large, has brought substantial benefits to Ireland. I thought many times throughout the referendum campaign that people ought to have concentrated on the contents of the Treaty — this book which I was prone to wave around at public meetings. It is not the terrifying document which Deputy De Rossa tried to present it as; 75 per cent of the Treaty relates to pragmatic measures all of which would be welcomed and would not be controversial in most parts of the country. The bulk of the Treaty concerns establishing a proper economic union. It means ensuring that our workers have equal rights, that our training, policies in the areas of agriculture and fisheries, transport etc., are recognised. These are areas of policy on which there could be no divergence and it is in our interest to have those links deepened. I share the Minister's analysis that what has occurred in the intervening period indicates how vital it is for us to continue apace with the process of economic and monetary union and how important it is for us to have a European Central Bank that can have some influence on monetary policy and which does not leave us at the whim of the Bundesbank as is the case at present.

During the currency crisis we called for moving rapidly so that we would have a direct influence on the economic and monetary policies affecting us so greatly and where our influence at present — as Deputy De Rossa rightly said — is through the indirect forum of whatever we can do at a Council of Ministers meeting.

Another matter that concerns me deeply in the debates that took place concerning the Treaty was the latent nationalism which I see as the alternative to European development. We have to examine what the legacy of Europe has been for us over a quarter of a century and even longer if we go back to the development of the Council of Europe. By comparison with previous decades the main difference has been peace. We in the western world might come to think of peace as being the norm. Events in Eastern Europe have again shown the potency of nationalism. We have seen the quality of their lives and their structures torn apart by civil war. I see it with my children who always felt wars were always at a distance, they were as far away as the Gulf and in places they did not know. Now that they are on the European Continent we must never forget the lessons of the early part of the century. In a particular way the Irish are very sensitive about the power of nationalism and how easily it can reassert itself. While the Danish "No" to Europe was based on a positive nationalism much of the debate in other countries is about a very narrow nationalism, protecting self-interests. Taken a step further we could see those destructive forces becoming a feature. Unlike Deputy De Rossa, I see a commitment to Europe as a defence against that.

It can be defensible and democratic but not as currently developed.

I share the Deputy's concerns but I think we can change them from within.

The Irish experience of Europe has been a positive one financially and it has brought about changes, some of which were difficult. There has been a transformation of the quality of Irish life. Those who liked dancing at the crossroads may hark back and say a certain quality of our life has gone. As a modern Irish woman, much of what is good came to me and people on social welfare, from Europe, over the heads of elected parliamentarians. Ministers were dragged screaming, so to speak, to reform many of our laws in the areas of equal rights for women, proper treatment for social welfare recipients, social legislation and standards for environmental protection. Our involvement in Europe has brought about substantial improvements in these areas. There is a great difference between Ireland and Denmark in terms of how we view Europe. For example, the Danish standards in many of these areas are in excess of the European standards. The debate on the Maastricht Treaty in Denmark was much different from the debate here. Ireland's involvement in Europe has mainly had a positive effect on this country.

I am disappointed that the Maastricht Treaty will achieve so little; it is the ultimate compromise. For example, the Social Chapter is in a kind of limbo. The British and Irish Governments have hidden behind the Social Chapter and played the same game. There is a resistance to the introduction of what I would regard as the best European standards for workers. Instead of aping the UK's minimalist approach to the protection of workers and their rights, we should remember that well protected and well paid workers are more productive than under paid and badly protected workers who have a low morale. I should like us to aim at the introduction of the best European standards for our workforce in terms of conditions and pay. One of the reasons Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty was because of its conservative approach to social reform.

I wish to refer to defence, which I regard as a very difficult issue. I accept the sincerity of the views of Democratic Left on this issue but Fine Gael have a very different view. We believe that if something is valuable it should be defended. That was one of the very emotive issues raised during the campaign on the Maastricht Treaty. I remember a woman asking me at one of the coffee mornings I organised if I would like my three sons to be conscripted. I told her that if something was worth fighting for I would fight for it myself. I did not say this because I am in favour of war; rather I did not accept it as an argument.

Europe has a major role to play in international politics as a force for good which is committed to the principles of democracy. We should not leave defence to one major player, as is the case at present. While we all share the objective of creating a nuclear free world and support non-proliferation activities, the reality is that many countries have nuclear power. This makes the world a potentially dangerous place in which to live. A European defence and security policy which is committed to the principles of democracy could have a very positive influence on the world. Such a policy should contain a commitment to peace, democracy, defence and political co-operation.

One of the ironic aspects of the debate on the Treaty on European Union — this is particularly so in Britain — is the belief that everything will be dragged into the centre. Europe has attempted to make the Irish Government pursue a policy of regionalism. During the last substantial tranche of European funding, the then Minister for the Environment, Deputy Flynn, rejected a request to devolve responsibility for the disbursement of a limited amount of those funds to local communities. Europe has been much more committed to the concepts of devolution, regionalisation and subsidiarity than the Irish Government. This commitment has again had a valuable influence on this country.

Fine Gael have a very positive view of our role in Europe and we look forward to the development of the Social Charter. We welcome more spending on education under the Treaty, something we have actively sought. We share the deep concerns expressed about the inadequate powers of the Parliament and the need to move on this issue. We believe that greater movement towards integration will help our finances and enable us to have greater control over our financial environment. We also welcome the greater protection being given to the environment and the opportunity being given to us to become genuine citizens of the Community, whereby we can move and work freely in Europe, compete on equal terms and help in the development of Europe.

We do not regard the Maastricht Treaty as the last word. Fine Gael were founded under a treaty which we regarded as a means of achieving much more. This is a further step in the development of Europe; it is not the last word and much more needs to be done. We welcome this Bill in that it goes some way along the road Fine Gael wish to travel in the development of Europe.

In the few moments available to me I wish to concentrate on the matters upon which I am in agreement — I am delighted to think there is consensus on these — with other Members of this House. Reference was made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in an interjection to my visit to Somalia. I thank him for that. I should like to put on the record my complete admiration for his initial visit to Somalia which was so important in jogging the conscience of Europe and the world about the tragic plight of the Somalian people. His visit was very necessary, preceding as it did the visit of President Robinson. I can tell the House that the initiative by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the presidential initiative, were widely and deeply appreciated in the villages and parts of Somalia I visited. That is very important.

This enables me to make a link to a point made by the previous speaker and the use of the word "pragmatism". As I see it, pragmatism is a tool of diplomacy. It is very important in foreign policy, which sets out the contours within which diplomatic practice functions and must serve, that the moral moment must be recovered. The recent speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the United Nations represented a recovery of that moral moment in Irish foreign policy. I welcome and salute that.

I regret the departure of Ambassador Sahnoun from Somalia. I deeply regret that the European Community has not yet established a permanent office in Mogadishu. This is indefensible, disgraceful and shameful. I am sure the Minister — the President is not in a position to speak but she may do so at some stage — shares my horror at the appalling obscenity of a country awash with armaments. We are discussing the ratification of a European treaty. Europe is a process, and in that unfolding process our European partners will have to come to agree, perhaps under our leadership, that the production and distribution of armaments and their sale into a continent which is dying is one of the great immoral actions of contemporary history.

Debate adjourned.