European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1986: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I would like to begin by agreeing with Senator Robinson in her remarks last evening when she questioned the statement in the opening sections of the Minister's speech yesterday. The Minister said there had been an extensive debate on the Single European Act and that he welcomed that. It is with regret that I must question that statement and I do so on the basis of the second item which is before us this morning. We are, as we were yesterday, discussing three items, the Single European Act Bill, the motion on neutrality and report No. 34 of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. It is very interesting to bear in mind the date of the publication of report No. 34. The formal date on which Deputy Collins signed it as chairman of the joint committee was 3 December 1986 and page 69, column 121 states:

...looks forward to an informed and enlightened debate on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1986, so these fears can be allayed and hopes that this report will make a useful contribution to the parliamentary process.

If that was signed on 3 December 1986 and it is now 17 December 1986 I must say I find it closer to conversion than to convincing anybody to assume that in 14 days all the questions that are raised by the Bill will be met. It is a somewhat facetious expectation.

Given that, if I were to go beyond the report itself and say what has been the character of the debate to date, I do not think any serious parliamentarian in Europe could regard the debate that has taken place either publicly or in Parliament in Ireland as comparable in terms of adequacy with the debate that has gone on in the Parliaments of the other member states. I will say a little more about this on another matter this evening, but I am quite depressed at the lack of conviction that is present in Ireland and within the parliamentary process towards opening up foreign policy in general and matters like this in particular to public scrutiny.

Yesterday Senator Dooge made a rather coy reference to the proposal we will be discussing this evening of a joint Oireachtas legislative committee as imposing the Danish model on Irish foreign policy. That is a travesty as I will make clear later on this evening.

In my opening remarks I said we were at one end of a spectrum, a spectrum in which the Irish citizen and most of the Irish parliamentarians are precluded from understanding or having access to foreign policy decisions. We have the least political accountability of the many countries in the European Community. I said that at the other end you had Denmark where policy formulation initiatives come from the Danish Parliament and particularly its foreign affairs committee. I explicitly said that I was not suggesting a committee on the Danish model but simply establishing a committee here which would have enabled us to have access for the first time. I find it a little irritating to be misquoted like this, not on one occasion but on more than one occasion. I realise the intent of all of this, because it was something that was borne out later in the speech and something to which I will address myself extensively this morning, that is, the general arrogance that prevails in relation to matters of foreign policy. I described it last week as the substitution of a kind of infallible expertise for political accountability.

When I begin to consider an item such as this I am far less than happy that a debate has taken place. What debate? The Minister yesterday gave a fine, thorough speech. Senator Dooge gave us a fine speech based on his experience of the evolution of European political co-operation but I ask how can somebody say that there has been a very fine public debate and that he welcomes it. How could there be, unless I am living in a different island? I was more interested as Foreign Affairs spokesman of the Labour Party than the average citizen, and I would suspect than very many people in the Dáil and the Seanad are in the process of European political co-operation. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I believe I am entitled to hear in a committee of these Houses rather than outside of them in private what is happening in European political co-operation.

I am elected to this House to ask questions on foreign policy and I would have thought my colleagues in the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties would feel they were elected into the Dáil and Seanad to make foreign policy accountable in this country. I am sadly disappointed to find that the party on this side are opposing a motion I have tonight on establishing accountability in foreign policy. Their refusal will impinge very seriously on my consideration as to what I am going to do about this Act and my own intentions on it. Equally, I am deeply disappointed in relation to the Fianna Fáil Party's attitude. I had thought there had been in the past an opening up there, a commitment to try to make foreign policy more public and more open both in the Parliament and among the public. I warn as to what we are doing. The suspicion that is sown in the minds of the public has been sown by people who deliberately and jealously are guarding matters of foreign policy for themselves.

There was a touch of coyness about the speech yesterday when, quite correctly a former Foreign Affairs Minister and Member of this House took exception to people writing letters to the papers saying: "Whatever the Taoiseach said, whatever the present Minister for Foreign Affairs said, whatever I said"— he was speaking about himself —"please ignore it". He was correct in that. He was not correct to say: "Who would better understand it? All three of us were in there making it work." The idea was that we should suspend our judgment and exercise belief.

This country has paid more than its price for the definition of religious and theological matters in terms of the fantastic and the miraculous and in terms of some kind of deus ex machina explanations of the world. I object to it in a matter of policy and I do not want to be fobbed off by someone saying: “When we had the reports of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities we had an opportunity to raise a number of these issues”. We did and some of us raised some questions about it, but it was not an adequate debate. I deny emphatically that a debate has taken place and I also question most seriously the political wisdom of those who announced that this had to be concluded by the end of this year and that it had to be signed by 1 January.

Let us be clear what had happened at that stage. The cat was out of the bag — a process that was not made accountable — the EPC process — regularly in this House on the basis that what was a matter of foreign policy in other member countries was not a matter of foreign policy here but was a matter of diplomatic practice. The suggestion was that only the wild people outside who are against Europe are the people who are kicking all this stuff up, but I am not one of the wild people. My own interest in international affairs goes back far beyond the discussion of items like this. I happen to regard many of the enthusiastic Europeans who try to reduce foreign policy to the concept of a single integrated market and so many pounds being spent in shopping baskets by a large number of consumers as a particularly shrunken, eviscerated and narrow view of internationalism.

I wrote in my address to the Labour Party, one of the last ones I suppose I will give, that those of us who are Socialists have to regularly remind ourselves that we are members of a wider and more generous family than the family we occupy on this island. The notion that has run through much of the contribution, miserable as it has been, has been the suggestion that many of the people who are raising questions are people who do not understand. I can say this, and it is in relation also to the economy taking up a concept that was developed last week of delegated responsibility, we are paying a high price for the myth of delegated expertise in this country. There is no place where we are paying it more than in the realm of the economy. It is falling in tatters around us in relation to its principal indicator, the inability to provide jobs for our people with all of the attendant poverty that flows from it.

Once again in that realm there is a touch of the miraculous, the apparition, the deus ex machina that will save us. There is the view that maybe if interest rates came down miraculously jobs would start appearing, or the related lesser view, the kind of climatological heresy in relation to economics that, if the atmosphere is right everything will be all right. It is like growing mushrooms — keep out the light; keep it moist and they will start popping up through the peat moss. There is this notion that employment will break out like a rash or, as I said, like mushrooms in the Irish economy. I find that thinking profoundly undemocratic and I reject the suggestion that people who have questions to ask about what we are discussing here are wild people. I differ from some of them. I differ from them in that some of them see a great plot afoot. I do not and I never have, but I will develop this point in the fullness of time.

I am interested in how you can achieve a consensus on foreign policy with Britain in a number of areas — Southern Africa, Central America, Latin America, the Middle East, Iran and Iraq — when you know there are talks at a different level, deeper, more serious, going on between Britain and the United States and that details of some of these are surfacing in the United States Foreign Relations Committee in the course of evidence that has been given and so forth. What are we doing? We are telling the public that there are great achievements possible within the concept of consensus. I have not told the public that. The Minister has and the people on that side of the argument have. I do not deny it and I do not reject it, but I think the onus is on them to flesh that out in public discussion, to take on these issues. I am only using that as an example. I will turn to many more matters in a few moments. I want to know the response to the suggestion that has been made on one side of the public debate, such as it has been, that there has been a very narrow contribution made to the whole negotiation process on social and economic grounds.

I would like to be corrected but yesterday I sat through most of the debate and there was one word missing from most of the speeches and that was the word "unemployment". I remember discussions in 1971 and about an idealistic Europe — the founding fathers of Europe, never war again, all of us participating in the commitment to peace. It was idealistic material. I remember meeting Altiero Spinelli when he came here. We had reservations at the time. He said, more or less trying to change my opinion on some matters: "Please do not leave it to all of the conservatives in Europe, the right wing people. They are going to regenerate Europe, start it going again. Why leave it to them? Look at the price you are going to pay for it". He had his eyes open about what he was doing. My point is that his statements were idealistic in the extreme. I have a document here saying that when we remove the barriers we would have a market of hundreds of millions of people, that it was a Europe of consumers. That is part of the argument. The next part of it is a Europe that is defined in terms of a market place, not only a consumers' market place but a market place that is at war with other market places. We will have the capacity because of the size of the market to deal with Japan and the United States.

I found Senator Lanigan's speech yesterday curious because I did not quite know whether he was arguing in favour of a single market in terms of free trade or whether he was arguing in favour of a new kind of protectionism, that Europe should protect itself against Japan and the United States. I gathered that from the main thrust of his arguments, but I do not blame Senator Lanigan because most of the classical economic models have been stood on their head in the presentation of this argument so far. No more so than in the rather unusual suggestion that at the same time as you are creating a more perfect market, removing barriers and when you are paying tribute to your Commissioner for his good work in demolishing all the walls you are, at the same time, managing to create on a sure basis, regional and social policy.

I hope we do it. It will be like a chicken learning to fly in the air for hours on end. It has never happened before. It does not happen in the United States with which comparisons have been made. Eighty per cent of regional expenditure in the United States is accounted for by defence spending. That is what regionalised expenditure is there. I looked at all of these strategies at one time in regional policy. I am in favour of regional social policy. I am simply saying that these are some of the nuggets which we are going to discover in the rich basket that has been offered to us in this 13 day comprehensive public debate and in this three day wonderful, extended parliamentary debate. The idea of a perfect market that is going to have principles in it, that is going to give advantages to the lower income regions, and I said I will be convinced. I am willing to go back and learn my economics again if there are some new theoretical principles that have been adduced.

Let me begin at the beginning and say a couple of things. There is something that I noticed in the actual resolution. We are discussing Items Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together. Item No. 2 — and here I just want us to be absolutely clear because it will require an extended response from the Minister — reads as follows:

That Seanad Éireann reaffirms Ireland's position of neutrality outside military alliances, and notes with satisfaction that the provisions in Title III of the Single European Act relating to the co-operation of the High Contracting Parties (that is, the Twelve member States of the European Community) on the political and economic aspects of security and the closer coordination of their positions in this area do not affect Ireland's position of neutrality outside military alliances.

Let me be very clear: that is a conditional statement on neutrality. I believe it is a good motion to pass but the wording of it is not very clear. I want to place it on the record, while I am spokesman on Foreign Affairs for the Labour Party, that that is not our definition of neutrality and these words are not our words, and I should know. The wording that we would put into a resolution would not qualify neutrality in such a fashion. Let us read the phrase again that we have: neutrality outside military alliances.

The concept that we have had in use in the Labour Party for a long time, and which we have convinced the Confederation of Social Parties in Europe to use in our meetings at the socialist international, is the concept of positive neutrality. In this language "neutrality outside military alliances" of, what I find very hard to take is that people who actually use that formulation and who vote for it are the very people who will have colleagues standing up on their hind legs saying: our so-called neutrality; the doctrine of our so-called traditional neutrality. They pretend not to understand what it means when they have so narrowly and tightly defined it like this to make it a nothing.

I know exactly what I mean by positive neutrality. I mean that it should be used as a tool of foreign policy, that it should be used as a set of norms in diplomatic practice and that it should be an open process. I wish people who do not believe in that and who reject it stood up and said so. I respect them for holding the views they do, because then we will know where we stand. As far as I am concerned this question of "neutrality outside military alliances", let us be very clear, is not positive neutrality as we have written about it in our documents in the Labour Party. It is not positive neutrality as we understand it. We now have 14 documents published by the Labour Party on neutrality. No. 1 on page 21 gives a discussion on an action programme to implement neutrality, including an education programme for their own members, an education programme in the country, an education programme for parliamentarians that would involve the experience of other countries and so forth.

I find it curious here listening to people mocking the Danish example about how inoperable their system is as a tool of foreign policy, given what we have ourselves which I have plenty of opportunity today to make very clear. There are other matters we should have and, I might say in this regard, in the next month or two before I end my period as Labour Party Chairman I expect a major conference to be convened here in Dublin of the major neutral nations at which we will have an opportunity to hear their experience of using neutrality not as something that is creating a problem for them.

I completely agree with the people who are at the other end of the argument from me in this who want a definition of words, but I am completely opposed to people who say we are neutral but, if the values of the west were at stake, not ideologically neutral, the idea being that with peace on one side in the west you have warlike aggression in the east. We would not be neutral if we could negotiate the reunification of this country, the position taken up again and again by many politicians some of whom would like to forget they took that position. There is no doubt in my mind it has been going on for almost 40 years. It is the Fianna Fáil position from time to time; their position could be adjusted if unification was being discussed.

The people who are creating any confusion whatsoever about the term "neutrality" in Irish foreign policy are the people who want to put in these conditions without having the courage to say it. As I think I mentioned earlier, they remind me in the economic area of people who are profoundly inegalitarian in everything they are doing, but have not the courage to say so. They preface everything with: "We say in Versailles"; "we would all love every child in the country to have the best education possible but", "we would all like every child in the country to have the best possible health service but", the idea being to say: "This country cannot afford any of your egalitarian nonsense; we believe you are going to damage everything if you drag all our children down to the level of the poorest children; you are going to destroy a wonderful professionalised medical service by making it public". Their predecessors in the 19th century, fine conservatives, as rabid as you could see, had something the present lot are missing, that is, they had courage. They were not as convoluted in deceit that language had to be twisted to have this big long preface, on the one hand, and on the other hand, "but".

I welcome anybody who wants to hear my views any day on the question of neutrality spelt clearly. It is positive neutrality. It needs affirmation in the Constitution. An education programme at home needs to become a principle in foreign policy and we need a guiding set of practices in our normal diplomatic relations. This will involve us opening up. People are arguing about going from one box into a glorified cupboard and suggesting that the difference between us is one of being broad-minded or being narrow-minded on issues of foreign policy. I have already said I profoundly reject that. It is only in recent years that I heard all of this notion that foreign policy is principally determined by issues of a large market and so forth. I am not suggesting that; I am simply saying I welcome being able to talk with people among the neutral nations, the neutral group, the non-aligned nations and so forth.

I do not have any innocent fears on foreign policy like one of the political parties — only I cannot remember it about 15 years ago — when it was described as the opening of embassies in as many countries as possible and to continue our efforts to fight international Communism. The point I make here is that there are lots of nations with whom we must have relationships if we are to have peace on this planet and if we are to assure ourselves of ecological survival. There are lots of nations with whom we need to have close relations if we are to renegotiate a new international economic order.

Let us not hear that this is an argument between internationalists and nationalists. I will come to the exact phrase in a moment. Some of those people who are asking questions about some of these issues are described as people who are blinkered nationalists. I am an internationalist and there is a distinction between being an internationalist and being somebody who believes in the linking of supranational institutions. It is much as the distinction between breadth of mind and the addition of bits of technical knowledge here and there.

The main problems that arise in relation to the matters we are discussing arise principally as far as the public are concerned in relation to the issue of neutrality. We have gone a great way towards answering those questions. The motion that is down with its defective language is a small step in a country that in parliamentary terms has abused language rather than using it with any great flair for accuracy. I do not say that as a pedant. I think of the long history in my own time, when we have had non-marital children instead of illegitimate children and we have family planning, that is not the use of contraception and the long attempts in the recent Irish parliamentary tradition to avoid making words seem what they mean. At any event, given that reservation about the wording, the motion goes quite a way, although there are points that are unresolved following it.

The second main issue is in relation to the single market. I am not in recent years practising as a professional economist but I have had enough of a background in economics to know that there are a number of inherent paradoxes contained in what has been said and what has been offered for our consideration that need to be dealt with. Most people who argue in favour of the single market argue in terms of what it will make possible in terms of the very large market. The basic assumption is that it will create a wonderful opportunity should we be able to get into that larger market.

There have been figures thrown around in this regard. The Irish Council of the European Movement document has been quoted by many of the previous speakers. It is in that document that the figure of £8 billion was used, that technical, fiscal and bureaucratic barriers to trade are estimated to cost European business £8 billion a year or 2 per cent of Community gross domestic product. With respect, European business is a concept very much less than the European people. There is not any reference in that paragraph of the document to the employment content of the economy that would have an £8 billion a year advantage from the freeing of tariffs.

There is also reference made to the fact that Ireland exports 66 per cent of its output of its manufacturing industry and 80 per cent of that to countries within the European Community. Therefore, the assumption is that, if you put these together, you have an enlarged market that is freed of tariffs and you are able to sell into that market if you have the marketing expertise. There are 400 out of 850 companies located in the Republic whose main centres of decision-making are within the Community. The idea is that they will expand and that jobs will start popping up, a refined climatological argument.

We would have been much better served if instead of the information document we had a proper White Paper. We should have got one. We had time for one and I believe that these issues should have been addressed. There is no element which makes the case for a White Paper better than in the discussion of the economic implications of the single market. We should look at what happened in the Irish economy to the present, beginning with the Lemass period. At the time of the Anglo-Irish agreements, a great number of native protected industries, as the phrase used now is, were shaken out. People at that time said "they closed their doors".

In the later period, many other aspects of the Irish manufacturing industry in the seventies were also shaken out. Therefore, there is a very narrow indigenous component now within the Irish economy. We have had some good companies realising that they need to trade abroad and earn in larger markets. Some half dozen companies I can think of, but not major engineering or innovative technology ones, are selling in the United States and capturing sections of that market. This narrower indigenous sector that is left is primarily in relation to the services sector. I worry in this regard that I have seen no convincing evidence. I am willing to be an optimist about the Irish economy. I want our people to have as good an income level as anybody in the Community if it can be managed but I believe we should be very careful about these questions that are being raised.

What are the realities in relation to services? Services, as I understand it in economics, includes everything from financial services, electronically managed and transmitted to cook turning hamburgers and fast food stalls. How are you going to capture and keep the top high grade services? You need to do so for there to be advantages in the single market, as we describe it, by selling on of services even if you were able to do so. The assumption is that you will be able to retain a sufficient number of these high grade services at the top of the spectrum. You need them for more than their own earning capacity.

In every place that the consumer effect of the service sector in the economy has been analysed, people speak about the multiplier effect of earnings in the higher grade services down through the others. If you lose those, you lose the multiplier effect down through the economy as well. Maybe that is wrong, but certainly views like these were examined at a seminar of the Economic and Social Research Institute. Unfortunately it did not get the publicity it needed and the debate has not taken off in the way that it should. Not only is it a matter of the implication for the services sector of the Irish economy of the single market, but there is the very human, very real, employment effect.

I cannot help getting the impression that the economic set of preparations and the ones which would be addressed in a White Paper have not been addressed. Let us take the third item we are discussing, report No. 34 of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. On page 50, paragraphs 90 and 91 the committee addressed the question of employment. I said that in all the contributions to this debate, it hardly surfaced at all. I stick to that observation. Paragraph 90 states:

The completion of the Internal Market could have important implications for three aspects of Irish economic development: investment, employment and market diversification. According to the Irish Council of the European Movement, there are over 850 foreign-owned companies in Ireland employing 80,000 people directly, and giving employment to a further 80,000 in the services sector.

I would love to know the source of that figure but let me contain myself. Paragraph 90 continues:

Over 400 of these firms have parent companies located in other Community Member States. There is, therefore, considerable scope for attracting new investment in a more economically integrated Europe from within the Community as well as from third countries. In particular the advantages of establishing closer working relationships and joint ventures with other companies in production, research and marketing activities must be impressed upon Irish manufacturers.

I certainly agree with the concluding aspect of it. If we are to have an economic growth from traded services abroad and, if we ever rise to it, from high grade manufacturing commodities that are traded abroad and so forth, it certainly requires the kind of aspiration that is reflected towards the end.

I do not understand the economics of the idea that new investment would take place in Ireland. There used to be a small chapter in economics text books of the introductory kind a few years ago that dealt with the theory of the location of industry but it is truly a Celtic kind of economics that suggests that having completed the removal of all the obstacles to trade, location and investment, you should then set off to the mists of the periphery of the Community to establish, invest and expand the potential for exploiting your huge new market. These new economic insights are so valuable that they deserve White Paper elaboration. Perhaps when the Minister replies he will answer these questions about the precise employment effect at each level and each of the models, if you retain the high grade services and keep the others, if you do not retain the high grade services and keep some of the others. These are things we are entitled to know.

I expected a more complete submission to Members of Parliament from the trade unions in this regard. Their response could have been somewhat better. In paragraph 90 of the joint committee's report they are relying on the Irish Council of the European Movement. Good luck to the Irish Council of the European Movement. They have made their case well sliding with the speed of an ice skate dancer over thin ice in relation to all of the economic areas, particularly employment. In paragraph 91 however, the report goes on to a second major source of economic truth, Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, paragraph 91 states:

In a recent speech Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission called for a cooperative growth strategy which by adding one percentage point to the Community growth rate could reduce unemployment by 30 to 40 per cent over the next five years. An integral part of that strategy must remain the increased economic activity which will result from the liberalisation of inter-Community trade.

What kind of economic thinking stands behind that? Certainly if you have growth you have employment of a certain kind. It depends on where you have the growth and it depends on where the investment is located which, in turn, depends on the view as to whether within an enlarged market investors might go towards where they can centralise their advantages, or whether they are pushed towards the periphery. When we come to the very abstruse concept of cohesion we will see what is proposed in that regard.

There are two ways of assisting the regions within Europe. I recall once offering a paper to the Irish Council of the European Movement for publication in 1971 and 1972— it was one of the few papers they decided not to publish — in relation to regional policy and regional strategy. There are a couple of ways of justifying spending in the region. One is that, having established the single market from economic growth, in turn, you give a kind of residuum to the periphery; you start relocating funds. It is a kind of European Community dole.

The second way would be that you would assist projects by reducing obstacles to industrialisation, for example, assisting infrastructure and whatever. You could do it like that. You could do it out of the enhanced growth of the Community. You are not departing too much from a residual model. The third model was the one to which many people in Ireland aspired. That was that you would realise that there were significant gaps. Indeed I might say that many of them were idealistic people in the early days of the European Community who believed that you could reduce the gaps not only in income levels but in participation levels, levels of education and so forth between the periphery and the centre. They did not want to do that from a residuum that was through the released capacity of the regions to create a form of life and a form of economy for themselves that would provide all of these things.

I believe that aspiration was genuine but I equally believe that it cannot be reconciled as I understand it with the concept of a tariff free market. That is what my problem is, and I do not want to drive people to the point of tedium. In this regard, I am relying on the joint committee composed of some of my most distinguished colleagues. They produced this report on 3 December. It is a wonderful aid to our debate. On page 54, paragraph 99 the report stated:

However the Joint Committee urges that all necessary steps be taken to mobilise our national agencies so that they can put preparations in hand immediately to ensure that Ireland can respond quickly and effectively to any new opportunities that integrated regional programmes will present.

It reads like a prayer. The second part of the paragraph states:

The Joint Committee was pleased to be assured by the representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs that an integrated approach is already under active consideration in relation to Community structural funds.

The pathos of those two paragraphs in relation to our agency's preparedness for submitting new proposals in relation to new regional strategies that might come from the Commission and the statement that the committee were pleased to be assured that the representatives of the Department had an integrated approach under active consideration reminds me of the poor tenants in the 19th century going up to the door of the big house and saying; "We are pleased that himself will be home from England in the next few weeks and the poor humble tenants will get a higher price for their potatoes." It is a pathetic two paragraphs. That is no reflection on the members of the committee but it is a reflection on the preparations in the economic and social area in relation to the economics of this matter and the employment effects of it.

I said that I feel that these are the two main areas: the question of neutrality and the question of the single market. Can I summarise my remarks on the former of these for a moment? I feel that if there was less equivocation about what is meant by neutrality and the removal of these tacit conditions that are regularly put on it, we would all enormously benefit. I have equally said that a constitutional affirmation of neutrality is desirable and an education programme at home and abroad about what we mean by it is very valuable. We are damaged by language that is used to condition it by people who really oppose neutrality.

There are other sides to it all. Let me make this point once and say that it is fundamental for me. This entire debate has been damaged enormously by the manner in which the EPC process has been presented to the Irish public. I am not reflecting for a second on those who have participated in it. I am not attributing motivations to them, and I am not suggesting conspiracies. I have said that I regarded Senator Dooge's speech yesterday as a very thoughtful, reflective and valuable speech describing his own association with the process. I am saying that the removal of that procedure from discourse in these Houses and from public debate has ill served this debate that is going on at present. I am so insistent on the matter that I am returning to this evening because if this Bill is passed, as it obviously will be, if we continue in the same way, we are removing matters of deep concern to them in relation to the political, cultural, social and economic area, indeed some people say the moral concern of the Irish people. I believe that Parliaments lessen themselves by subscribing to a process like that — after the Bill is passed we will need the maximum openness.

In relation to the second matter, the question of the internal market, I said that there is no area which more justified the publication of a comprehensive White Paper teasing out the economic aspects, particularly looking at the employment implications, dealing in detail with an analysis of the service sector and looking at the history of the expansion or contraction of the service sector in different circumstances. All of that would have been very valuable.

In that regard I mentioned the inherent paradoxes which have been suggested in relation to the economics. There is an issue which arose in the Minister's speech in which he suggests that there is no difficulty with many of these matters. It is in the nature of Ministers to have a good intentioned view of the public, but to have no less a view of their own relationship to the world. Thus, it is perhaps my own distance from such decision-making that enables me to see things differently. Where the Minister sees that there has been an extensive public debate, I think there has been an unwelcome rush with this legislation which was unnecessary and undesirable. Where the Minister sees an evolution because he has been close to it — Senator Dooge reminded us of three people who were very close to this process — I cannot see this evolution because no mechanism exists for me to tease out other than the reported detail of it. I am one of the people who think that all of the people who work extending our foreign policy are all the time working for Irish interests and are professional to the highest degree. I would just like to know what they are doing.

Equally, the most scarifying suggestions as to what is afoot, behind the people's back and so on, would not be possible in such an open process. The Minister said he was satisfied in relation to the constitutionality of this measure; he was quite convinced of this as were the Government. That is the view of the Tánaiste, my party leader, that on the constitutional grounds there is nothing to be worried about. My views are more sceptical. Maybe because I am a rationalist, but I think this matter could have been put beyond doubt. It could have been referred to the Supreme Court for an opinion and the Supreme Court could have decided if it was necessary to have a referendum. Yesterday Senator Dooge spoke about what happens at referenda when emotion is released. It reminded me of Bertrand Russell's remark about power, that where you have a large crowd gathered together, particularly if you had music playing, you could get them to believe in anything. Whether we like it or not, the referendum concept has not been damaged by some of the unwelcome results that have come from it in recent times. What has happened is what Russell feared, reaction has been exploited and fundamentalism has spilled over. People will write books on outcomes of referenda but the concept is a good one and should not be lost by our hurt experiences in that regard in recent times.

I agree with that.

On the issue of constitutionality, I do not think it is as easy as the Minister's speech suggested. Senator Robinson has a slightly more agnostic position in relation to the constitutionality of all of this. She is convinced that there are no constitutional difficulties but that it would be useful if this matter had been put beyond doubt. The Senator's approach is probably the better one because she is committed to two principles that are missing from some of the speakers on this side of the House. She is committed to an unconditional openness about the entire process and she is also quite open in relation to the constitutionality, to let the Irish institutions, including the Supreme Court, offer their opinion and make a decision. There is considerable merit in her position.

In relation to the Minister's speech, he was anxious to tell those who were worried about the moral implications of this that they have nothing to worry about. I question the use of the word "moral" in this regard. We have particular views about what is moral. Those who hold different views about the distinction between church and State and the organised delivery of services by the State and so on have a different view of what is moral. It would be fascinating to hear the people who have difficulty about Irish neutrality. They do not feel impelled to offer their views in public on Irish morality. The curious side of it is that one of the most strident critics in this regard, Deputy John Kelly, is forever telling us about what an albatross our neutrality is but, at the same time, he does not find our traditional morality, as he calls it, anything of a burden. Frankly, I find his views on this subject quite inconsistent but he is entitled to them and offers them colourfully in his own way.

There are many of us who would like to see Irish people approach their relationships with the rest of the world and with each other against a broader spectrum than this one here. I know it is reassuring in times when we feel we can do nothing by means of rational planning in economics, in social policy or in any other policy, that we are God's chosen people. It is very comforting and I am sure it helps people who do not want to use the other tools of thinking in their process to have such an unshaken belief in themselves. It also encourages a word that is not used often enough with the word moral, that is, cowardice.

Davitt said 100 years ago if the Irish had one fault worse than drink it was their moral cowardice. Much of this discussion about morality and people not wanting to confront the issues associated with it, constitutes a comprehensive moral cowardice in many regards. I will not ask the Minister to expand on that section. Those who feel themselves assured by it will be happy but I am not so sure that we should not feel threatened by it. It shows you the difference that is attached to economic matters and moral matters. There are two paragraphs in the Minister's speech that give reassurances on moral grounds. There is not a full paragraph that offers reassurance on employment grounds. I believe that unemployment is a moral issue. In a country like ours, that is galloping towards a figure of 300,000 unemployed if not more, surely it is a moral issue. I would have welcomed a more extended discussion on the economic and employment aspects. Perhaps we can get them at the end.

In relation to foreign policy I want to say two things. First, the Labour Party had a discussion on this issue within their Parliamentary Party and decided to support the Act subject to a number of conditions and, so also have the governing body of the party, its Administrative Council. Senator Ferris read out yesterday what the Administrative Council said but I do not believe he realised the implication of the second last paragraph of what he read. The Administrative Council statement reads:

The Administrative Council of the Labour Party accepts that the ratification of the Single European Act is desirable, both economically and politically since:

(1) It provides for the first time, Treaty status for effective regional cohesion within the European Community;

(2) It protects the neutral status of the country and its right to pursue an independent foreign policy;

(3) It provides for more efficient decision making while preserving the safeguard of the veto;

(4) It enhances the role and influence of the democratically elected European Parliament. The Administrative Council further recognises that the Single European Act creates a new and potentially more effective framework for policy development within which Ireland must pursue with like-minded member states and with the democratic socialist movement a comprehensive and properly funded Regional Policy, efficiently and democratically plan its own economic and social development while availing of the extended market, evolve and implement a strong, independent foreign policy line in favour of peace and disarmament while seeking common policy positions within the European Community on matters of mutual concern.

Accordingly the Administrative Council urges that the Parliamentary Labour Party, having clearly stated Party policy on all these crucial matters, supports the proposal stated above.

The Administrative Council directs that the Party now pursue actively the creation of a positive socialist response at Community level to the jobs crisis,

the support of the democratic socialist movement within the European Community for Regional Policy initiatives,

a genuine independent Foreign Policy and the establishment of a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs.

That is one of the most important because, so far as I am concerned, I have to bear in mind how accountable the process which we will allow will be. It is one to which I have to give the greatest weight.

Continued informed debate of the implications of the Single European Act and of Irish membership of the European Community.

The debate in the Labour Party took place at the Administrative Council. Everybody knows that we differed, but that a majority decision decided upon a particular line in relation to this. I argued against some of these arguments on the gounds that I felt they were too vague. Some of these principles are too vague. We would all like a regional policy. We all want jobs and we all want integrated planning. Where is the White Paper that addresses the question of State initiatives in this regard? That is a simple question in relation to the single market. What will qualify as a State obstruction? What degree of State involvement will be allowed?

I heard a thoughtful speech from across the floor about the extension of the principles of the protocol into the treaty in some way. That was not on obviously in relation to its negotiation. Once again we needed an explanation of the options in that regard. There is no explanation and it has not surfaced in the debate. Nobody has talked about whether it facilitates economic planning of either a directive or non-directive kind. What about State instruments for locating industry, employment related strategies and so on? I keep coming back to the problem that every one of these was regarded always, within any version of economics, as obstacles to a free market, so how can we have them? The debate on this Bill is supposed to be nearly over and it is expected that I will vote on this matter but I have many matters to solve first. It cannot be assumed that, given the present state of the argument, I can support this matter.

The last point that worries me is in relation to the question of coherence in the policy in relation to matters of mutual concern and so forth. The interesting point is that the people who are arguing uncritically in favour of the Single European Act are trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, they are suggesting that language that expresses something negatively can be constructed internally in Ireland as positive. They say that the other members will be entitled to go on and join the Western European Union and do whatever they like in NATO. That really means we are acknowledging the Irish position. We are asked to accept that and I think I might accept it. On the other hand, there are other parts of the language and we are asked to believe that these are purley aspirational. Nobody knows from the Act or from the explanatory guide what the status of the different statements is. I am not being unduly difficult. I will give one example in that regard. Page 29 of the explanatory guide reads:

The provision of Title III, represent in essence a formulation of the practices and procedures of the EPC process. The undertakings contained in Title III are notable in their formulations in that they bind the partners only, for example, "to endeavour", "to take full account of", "to give due consideration to the desirability of", "as far as possible, refrain from". This is regarded by the Twelve as the appropriate limit to co-operation at this stage. A consensus continues to be required for a common position to be adopted or common action taken.

Therefore, the demand on us in this regard is very loose — aspirational is the word to use.

On the other hand, when we come to the cohesion sections, they are suposed to be offering as a regional policy. It has advanced to the point where it is now explicitly mentioned in the cohesion sections where it did not have a direct reference before. The language is loose in one part and it is tight in another part. Only Irish parliamentarians could read documents like that. Perhaps it is because of such confusion that the profession of diplomacy may flourish. We will need it. I cannot see how we can do that, or how we can know whether we are winning or losing in relation to these constructions that are going on. How will we know? All I can predict, should my life continue — and I mean in any one of these chambers — is that we will have long speeches from Ministers for years to come telling us of his or her achievements in regard to the process.

I am back to the point at which I began which is that I find it very difficult to evaluate this process, precluded as I am, as an elected parliamentarian speaking for constituents who want to know, from the staff of foreign policy decision-making. I am telling them I am entering this debate with a very diminished amount of information available to me from people who work for the State and I am asked to vote for this to allow this situation to continue. I am explicitly stating that it is quite conditional to my view on this matter as to what progress can be made to undoing that process. They have the right to be suspicious and I have the duty to try to find information for them to enable them to know. If the public debate on this matters the Minister spoke about had taken place we would be approaching the entire matter with an entirely different psychological view. I am not trying to sow fear in people's minds. I have spent a great deal of my time trying not to do that but people should be able to approach what is happening to them with a degree of confidence.

There is a deep authoritarianism in Ireland that runs right through every institution I have participated in from primary schools to the university I teach in which is very simply the one that the people are entitled to so much knowledge. What many Irish people would not be able to handle is if people's creative capacity to know and discuss complicated issues was released generally in public. People would not want to live in such a society because the little nuances of secret pieces of knowledge and information as the prop to political perspective might be bereft of philosophy. If you like, the concerned bits of information become a substitute for knowledge or of any philosophical commitment of a wider kind.

That is part of the rot in the country. In the economic sense, the tragedy when people talk, talking about unemployment, is that economic experts are brought on first to give what is a kind of priestly analysis. These are the facts. It is rather like natural law. Then politicians are wheeled on in the second segment of the programme: "Now you boring old populace, throw those facts around among you and then we will have a closing item from the economic experts again". It is the exact same thing in foreign policy, the same in social policy, health and so on.

I wanted the opportunity to say how profoundly angry I am at the manner in which this debate is being curtailed. It has been too short; it has not been adequately informed; and it has not dealt with most of the major issues. Even when the narrow, curtailed, shortened debate has taken place it has neglected some of the most human aspects, for example, the ability of Irish people to live in a world made free for peace. The European Community is often a hindrance rather than a help in that regard — to be able to genuinely look at the whole world. We could be invited to something other than a suspicion — this business of being suspicious of the non-aligned movement and of the other neutrals and that what we are doing is superior or that the chalice of gold we have in relation to what we are doing is superior to the poor Swedes. Do we really listen to ourselves saying those things? The poor Danes do not know how to run their foreign policy, but we in Ireland do; we are clever. Acrobats we are, but there is nothing inherently morally superior in what we are at.

Therefore, in all of these regards there has been some attempt made, given the shortness of time and the shortened debate, to meet some of the arguments in relation to neutrality and to try to explain the European political co-operation process. In relation to the European political co-operation process there has not been enough openness. The attempts to explain the implications of the single market are little less than abysmal. They are fraught with dangers for Ireland.

The report we are discussing records a disastrous state of unpreparedness at institutional level and it does not qualify as an aspiration of what we have, that active considerations are afoot to prepare a response to such national adjustments as are necessary. The fact of the matter is that we will not be well gone from here and home before the European Commission's document is out on its new proposals for an integrated set of measures to bring cohesion and regional policy on. Would somebody explain to me why we had to have the discussion, to complete it and to pass the Act before we had that document from the Commission before us? Is it suggested that we would not understand it or that we might change the ground rules so as to make some terms of the document less applicable and so forth. I would have welcomed the publication of that document and its comparison to the preparatory institutions in this country before we had made our minds up.

I also notice a little inconsistency which is a minor point but I would like to be reassured on it. I understood that from the 1971 days the idealistic aspiration for an evolving Europe was to give the Parliament more powers and the Commission, which had sided with the Parliament so often against nationalistic and narrow-minded Ministers, would equally be able to bring forward proposals for a more representative and broader Parliament. It is actually quoted as a reassurance in both the guide and the Minister's speech that the Commission and the Parliament are not getting any new powers and that more powers are being retained in the Council. Has there been a change of philosophy or policy in this regard? Is the evolution of the Europe of all the peoples now to be accomplished through the Council's retention of further powers and the suggestion that the Commission and the Parliament will not have enhanced powers?

That is said with the usual disregard for language. What people mean is that the Commission will quasi-legally keep preparing instruments and extending their actions not in a de jure sense but in a de facto sense that will try to keep powers within the Council. The finest piece of subterfuge in all of this has been the failure to make any reference to the evolution of the European Council. There is no reference to it in the Minister's speech. It is a body that exists outside the framework of the treaties and many of the difficulties in Europe including the profound blackmail, about which I will say my last word, has arisen — the idea that you could have a discussion between the stronger tier leading to a secondary tier in which there would not be any economic benefits.

This debate began with the suggestion that we should be very careful not to delay our ratification. The second point made was that we should always remember the economic benefits. It was late in the day when the moralistic, idealistic arguments conjuring up the ghosts were wheeled in. It began with the price of milk and it nearly ended with the price of milk. I find that profoundly distasteful because it suggests that we delayed it at our peril, that we ratified it quickly, that we should do something for the economic benefit, that we have no place else to go and do we realise how many benefits there are. What that is telling me is that we do not have any sovereignty in economic, political or other matters and that this parliamentary assembly and the other one are simple tokenism to people who are taking no decisions about their own lives. It was a distasteful blackmail, as was the suggestion that we had it ratified by a certain date.

If it is said that we had a wide debate on this matter, my answer is to compare it with the debate in the other Parliaments — I have said this so clearly that it cannot be confused by anybody — and ask why we did not have a White Paper. Look at these questions I have mentioned, particularly the employment and unemployment ones. We have done the least in that regard. Of course, the answer will be that people will start listing roads, boreens and pumps that have been put up around the place and the benefits that have flowed to the regions from Ireland's accession. What is meant by that is that we got some money; it was sucked into the national system and it was never spent in a true regional policy fashion. I say that on the basis of having spoken to someone who has published material on the requirements of a regional policy. No regionalist I know regards the way all Irish Governments gobbled up the money from the Community and spent it on the regions as anything like a concession towards a regional policy. This windy stuff about how much money we have got for roads in God knows where is not an answer to the problem.

I hope people are not getting complacent. There has not been a debate and there has been no consideration of the implications on the employment side. That is what makes it very important that there should be a monitoring process from the day this Bill is passed. If there is no monitoring process we go back into the EPC secretive diplomatic process that stopped us having the debate that we needed in relation to the ratification of the Act. If you want the Act you must open the process and it is as simple as that.

The Minister in his opening remarks said that there has been an extensive public debate on the Single European Act. I share Senator Higgins's concern about that: would that it were so. There has, of course, been an acute shortage of information. Fianna Fáil's insistence on the drawing up of an explanatory guide on the Single European Act, which is a limited contribution to the debate, was and remains fully justified. The Government owed it to the people who from many walks of life have raised probing questions about the implications of the Act.

The Act has been and is a live issue in many other European countries. For example, the Greeks are concerned that sensitive sectors of member states economies should not be harmed. Portugal is concerned that the change from unanimous voting to qualified majority voting in Articles 59 and 84, which deal with the freedom to provide services and transport by rail, road and inland waterways, should not damage sensitive and vital sectors of Portugal's economy. The Danish Government go rather further. They have declared their right to apply national provisions to safeguard requirements concerning their working environment, should they be necessary. In addition, the Danish Government make a further declaration to the effect that the conclusion of Title III on European Political Co-operation in the sphere of foreign policy does not affect Denmark's participation in Nordic co-operation in the sphere of foreign policy.

We in this House and outside it, therefore, expect and are entitled to a full explanation of the implications for Ireland of this Act. In the course of this brief contribution I want to touch on neutrality, the internal market, the proposed EC Court and finally technological co-operation.

First let me take neutrality. Nowhere is an explanation of the implications of the Single European Act more necessary than in the context of Title III of the provisions on European co-operation in the sphere of foreign policy. This title does not say specifically that Ireland is regarded as a neutral country. Was this issue raised and negotiated at the appropriate time? We do not know. I hope the Minister will be able to respond to that. Article 6 (a) of Title III states:

The High Contracting Parties consider that closer co-operation on questions of European security would contribute in an essential way to the development of a European identity in external policy matters. They are ready to co-ordinate their positions more closely on the political and economic aspects of security.

According to the Irish Council for the European Movement, and they have made their contribution to the debate and I wish to acknowledge that, an extract from their published paper goes as follows:

The Single European Act is, therefore, the first international agreement to recognise Irish neutrality and to provide appropriate safeguards for it.

Nowhere in the text, however, is Ireland or Ireland's neutrality actually mentioned. Furthermore, there is no reference to Ireland's position on neutrality in the series of declarations regarding particular concerns of individual member states, examples of which I have given in relation to other member countries. The amendment tabled by Fianna Fáil concerning our neutrality is, therefore, justified I hope.

I now want to deal briefly with the internal market. Section II of the Act is of major importance since it establishes the deadline for the completion of the internal market, namely, 31 December 1992. Fianna Fáil are fully aware of the importance of the Community's internal market. We recognise that a market of some 320 million people represents the single biggest opportunity for Irish exporters. Barriers to trade resulting from border control represent 2 per cent of the GNP of the European Community. It is estimated that European industry could be saved £7.5 billion annually if border controls were eliminated. Such savings could have a considerable impact on Irish industry and Irish exports.

Subsection (4) of the Act on economic and social cohesion states that the Community shall aim to reduce the disparities between the various regions and the backwardness of the least-favoured regions. The importance of this commitment cannot be stressed enough, particularly since the differences between the most favoured and the least favoured regions are growing rather than contracting. Attention is drawn to this specific point in the Report of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities where they view unrestricted free trade as possibly favouring the central European member states. They highlight, of course, the importance of the regional fund in respect of Ireland and other peripheral areas. The European Regional Fund is institutionalised by Article 130 C. Significantly its financial resources are not safeguarded by the Single European Act. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Act on the Community's finances.

The commitment to reducing the differences that exist between the regions is not new. It appears in the Treaty of Rome. This commitment was reaffirmed in Protocol 30 and is attached to the treaty. A Fianna Fáil amendment reaffirming the importance of Protocol 30, which underlines the special problems facing Ireland in the industrialisation process, and the need to highlight it in the context of the Single European Act and the completion of the internal market, is worthy of the support of the House.

I now want to turn to the proposed EC Court. The Minister gave us some information on this in his opening remarks but I would like some further information when he is replying. Rather little attention has been paid to this proposal, namely, this court. The explanatory guide tells us that provisions are designed to ease the workload and improve the functioning of the Court of Justice. The Act states that the new court which is to be attached to the Court of Justice will be empowered to hear and determine at first instance, certain classes of action or proceedings brought by natural or legal persons. While the Act specifies that proceedings may not be brought by member states or by the Commission, neither the Act nor the Government's explanatory guide give any indication as to the type of actions of proceedings that can be brought to the new court. I ask the Minister when replying to provide an explanation as to the type of action that can be brought to this proposed court.

I welcome the reference to the environment. The Minister describes it as a modest proposal on the protection of the environment. In particular, we need to highlight the principle contained in the Act that the polluter should pay. The case of the sunken Kowloon Bridge is one relevant example. There must be full restitution. It is noticeable that this subsection on environmental action must take account of the environmental conditions in the various regions of the Community and the balanced development of its regions. Unlike the provisions for science and technology the regional link is evident in relation to the environment.

With regard to technological co-operation, I share the Minister's view that European industry has failed to maximise the benefits of European research potential. The brain power, the ideas and the research that flow from European efforts all too often are applied in the United States and Japan rather than in Europe and, therefore, we are gaining less from the European contribution in that regard. In the course of my professional work in UCD I am concerned with the area of technology and, in particular, with the social impact of new technology, especially as it relates to jobs. I share Senator Higgins' view that far too little attention has been paid in the Minister's remarks and elsewhere to the major social and economic problem facing the Community, namely, unemployment.

I welcome the incorporation in the treaty for the first time of provisions dealing with research and technological development. New technology inevitably raises the question of its impact on jobs, an area of particular importance to us, given the scale of our unemployment problem. Most commentators and researchers agree that to date the short to medium term effect of new technology on employment has been negative. At the same time, however, it must be pointed out that most of the jobs which exist today have resulted from the application of technology to the production process. A strong argument could be made that job losses are due more to the slow structural renewal of industry and the neglect of product innovation rather than to technological change. Technological innovation is here to stay and it will continue to have a central role in maintaining the Community's competitiveness, expecially when compared with Japan and the United States.

It is, of course, a matter of fact that all automation technology involves a reduction in work content. Many reports, however, show that where countries have been quick to introduce advanced technology, especially in sectors exposed to international competition, they can benefit from the competitive advantage resulting therefrom. Those countries who do not take a lead in introducing advanced technology fall behind and as a consequence they may incur even more serious unemployment. The potential for employment provided by new technology is underlined by our success in establishing a thriving electronics industry. We should take hope from the positive development. The Fianna Fáil Party in their policy document on science and technology draw attention to the need for more funding in such areas as information technology, biotechnology, engineering and marine and mariculture research.

With regard to employment, the evidence to date suggests that new technology will increase unemployment in the short to medium term, but it offers potential for creating employment in the long term. We must accept the need to improve technology and production techniques. In that context, therefore, I hope the incorporation of provisions dealing explicitly, for the first time, with research and technological development in the treaty will give an added impetus to scientific and technological co-operation, backed where appropriate, by Community funding. In the years ahead such co-operation will, of course, enhance the establishment of the internal market itself. Joint research and development schemes between the countries of the Community are highly desirable and one hopes that Ireland will have an increased input into this type of co-operative effort.

I want to register my regret that subsection (5) of the Act on research and technological development does not specifically underline the need to have a regional dimension. I would like to know if this was raised during the earlier discussions. While I fully support the need to strengthen the scientific and technological basis of European industry and to encourage it to be more competitive at international level, the failure to address the regional dimension is a serious omission. We need assurances that the objectives set out in this section of the Act will not be out of our reach. The Community must give the disadvantaged regions special recognition and a special financial report. In the case of Ireland we have the brain power and we have the educational facilities, but we do not have the economic base or infrastructures necessary to enable us to participate on the same level as the central areas of the Community. Further comments and observations can be made on Committee Stage.

I should like very briefly to speak not only on the Second Stage of this Bill but also on the two motions on the Order Paper. Yesterday we had the opportunity to listen to some very fine speeches. In the Minister's Second Reading speech he clearly underlined and outlined the whole basis and the background to the Single European Act. I believe people who may have had reservations or fears, or who had been reading things into this move towards European union should take the opportunity to read the Minister's speech and the very interesting and powerful speech of my colleague, Senator Dooge, who had the privilege and who worked so hard in chairing the Ad Hoc Committee for Institutional Affairs, which was one of the cornerstones of this move towards European union. Senator Dooge was followed by Senator Eoin Ryan who made a most interesting and enlightening speech. Those three speeches were very open, frank and detailed. Anyone who has any misgivings should study them. They gave the entire debate a very positive introduction.

Senator Michael D. Higgins's speech this morning, which dealt very clearly with some concerned points of view, should also be required reading for students of European affairs and legal affairs. The debate here this morning — and last night — was very positive and attempted to analyse the entire movement.

We have a tremendous fear of change in this country. People "holler" incessantly for improvements, but it is not possible to have improvements without changes. The vast majority of changes are for the better. One of the most consistent criticisms of the Single European Act during the last few months has been that this legislation is being rushed through the Oireachtas. I contend that nothing is further from the truth. This Act was signed by the high contracting parties or the foreign Ministers ten months ago in February. Before that, for well over a year now, we had the opportunity — certainly in this House — to have full debates on the Dooge report on the work of the Ad Hoc Committee for Institutional Affairs. We also had a very full debate in this House on the Spinelli report, a report adopted by the European Parliament towards European union. These two reports have made a significant input into the work of the council and the Commission. The conference of representatives of the Governments of the member states agreed, as we will recall, in Milan in June 1985. That conference was formally convened in July, 1985.

The objectives of that meeting was an improvement in the decision-making procedures of the Council of Ministers, an enhancing of the European Parliament's role, a strengthening of the management powers of the Commission and an extension of Community activities into new areas. All of that must surely be desirable. It is highly important. Article 7 gives the Parliament a greater role in that the new Single European Act provides that all decisions shall be made henceforth in co-operation with the European Parliament rather than as prescribed in the treaty, "after formally consulting the Parliament".

The consultation procedure happened twice a year. It was just a procedure where a meeting was convened and the Parliament were allowed to state their views on one or two narrow points on budgetary procedures. They could have slowed up the procedure somewhat and on a number of occasions they did. This new Single European Act gives the European Parliament a greater input. That is as it should be. The founding fathers, when they drafted the Treaty of Rome over 30 years ago, must surely have envisaged that the Parliament would evolve. Of course nobody will give any Parliament powers. Parliament must take whatever powers they perceive necessary in order that the ordinary people of the Community may have an input into the decision-making and the policies of the various Administrations.

It is a little annoying to find a certain amount of misrepresentation on the question of this legislation being rushed. That is not the case. It is highly desirable that the European Community should be of vital importance to everyone in this country and in the Community. It should not be a static organisation. Where would it be going with the policies of the Community as it started out in 1957? The Community, the Council, the Commission and the Parliament must, at all times, move and be abreast of the problems of the day. They must be capable of tackling the diverse problems of this great mass of a Community and the diverse peoples it comprises. Therefore, it is timely that we should have an amendment such as this to the treaties. I have great hope for its future.

As one small member state, we have had tremendous assistance over the past 15 years in improving our infrastructures, and the living and working conditions of thousands of people. Our Ministers, above all Administrations, have worked very well. While I should not like to say we have maximised the benefits flowing from every area in the Community, nevertheless, our country has benefited from this great surge not of power but the impetus has been there and the back-up in monetary assistance has been there to ensure that this country has taken off.

I was listening to a debate on the radio this morning in which farming organisations were discussing the pros and cons of the latest rounds of discussions with the agricultural council over the last number of days. Some people see the agreement reached by our Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Deasy, with his colleagues, as being positive, or good, or the best obtainable. The position is that with the aid of Community funds and with the aid of both sides of the FEOGA grants systems over the past 15 years, our output in agricultural produce has increased considerably. The efficiency of farm operations, the output per cow has on average more than doubled which makes our farms more viable and brings them into modern times. That could not have been achieved without the basic underlying guarantees in the Common Agricultural Policy. When you look at the size of the Community you must accept that every paragraph in the Common Agricultural Policy cannot be tailor-made to suit every farmer in Ireland. My wish is that as many farmers as possible should be able to derive benefit and support from that. That is terribly important.

Other Governments of the EC have been systematically passing this Act and ratifying it for the last number of months, Denmark did so on 13 June 1986, and Belgium on 25 August 1986. In the United Kingdom the instruments of ratification were deposited on 19 November 1986. In Luxembourg the ratification was approved on 22 October. Spain has ratified. In Italy the ratification was approved by the Senate on 1 October 1986 and by the French General Assembly on 21 November. In Germany it is progressing this week. It is being debated presently in The Netherlands. In Portugal it was debated last week and a similar situation exists with Greece. We do not appear to be any different from any of the other member states. People should look at the positive side. It is very easy to pick up a document, let it be the Single European Act or whatever, and to highlight what does not suit us. We as politicians should look at the Single European Act and highlight the plus factors, highlight the changes that are going to improve the lot of the people. Let us concentrate in a positive way on milking the system, although I do not like looking at Europe from the point of view. There is no doubt that over the past 14 or 15 years we have benefited to the tune of almost £5,000 million.

If we were to think back — but people do not do that — on the state of our infrastructure 15 years ago we would realise that three quarters of the people had wind up telephones. The whole system has been changed because a tremendous amount of money has been put into improving the infrastructures. Similarly we hear people bemoaning the number of potholes all around the country. Yet over the past four year a record amount of money has been spent on roads, at least on the major roads and arterial roads, and almost 40 per cent of the money comes through the regional fund. Similarly, the larger and, indeed quite small, sewerage and water supply schemes have helped in there own way to give the Government not only a boost but the impetus to avail of the grants that are available. Thousands of people have a better standard of living by virtue of that very fact.

Let us look at the Single European Act and at the desirability of moving very positively towards a closer and a more united Europe. It would be nice if we had a Europe without the frontiers. We have had many reports all travelling in the one direction. We had the Tindemans report some time ago. It pointed out very clearly the advantages to be gained. The underlying problem in the Community at the end of 1986 is the 8,000,000 people who are unemployed. That is a problem every Government should tackle very vigorously.

Let us look at the success of Governments over the past 30 or 40 years in rehabilitating Europe as a whole, especially the parts that were ravaged by war. In the first half of this century between the two great wars, over 100 million people lost their lives between 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945. Unemployment was not a problem then, if you are able to take out that huge sector of the population. Thanks to Schuman, Adenauer and de Gasperi, the founding fathers, people resolved very soon after the second world war that that page of history should not and could not be allowed to be re-written. They had great initiative and, of course, there were many more such as Paul-Henri Spaak from Belgium. I am sure they had very distinguished colleagues in every country. They laid the foundations for this movement which has now become the strongest economic unit in the world.

It is unfortunate that the tendency is to look at that evolvement in a negative terms. I submit that we cannot advocate a Community that is sterile, or a Community that should not change. If it does not change we cannot have development. If we look for no change, we are also calling for a Community that has no hope of meeting the challenges of the present or the challenges of the future.

It was impressed by the very detailed speech of our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Barry, yesterday. It gave one the opportunity to reflect on the advantages that can be still won by the people of this country. There have been notable changes and amendments to the Single European Act in the qualified majority voting that is being invoked. Rather than being a change it is getting back to the original Treaty of Rome which provided for qualified majority voting. It was the Luxembourg compromise that introduced the veto which is important but I believe it is a power which a small country should use very sparingly. It is not advisable for a country such as ours to wield a big stick when we have not the power to wield it sufficiency. The secret of success so far as the Republic is concerned, irrespective of what Administration are in power, is to be able to enthuse the European Communities to sell the policies of the Irish Government to their colleagues in Europe and to get their wholehearted support and help in carrying out those policies. We cannot insist on special concessions other countries do not get.

The position in the European Parliament is a significant breakthrough and I look forward to our colleagues, the members of the European Parliament, using that new power to the full. It will take an amount of work but after this new Act of union is passed, the Parliament will have an opportunity to cooperate in all decisions the Council and the Commission take. The only thing that I would not be too happy with is the increased power to the Commission. That is something that will be all right to a degree. It should go towards making the organisation of the Community more efficient but we will need the Parliament to utilise their new found power to the fullest if they are to be in a position to counter the new greatly enhanced powers of decision the Commission would appear to have been given. There is a counter balance and there is a new branch of the courts which should, to some degree, streamline the effectiveness of the courts.

Senator Hillery regretted that the regional fund and regionalisation did not get more prominence. I would have read that almost in the reverse. I think it is the first time that the concept of the regional fund has appeared in the treaty. It was not in the original Treaty of Rome. If one were to look at the spirit of the Treaty of Rome it would appear to be the centrepiece of the aspirations of the founding fathers to equalise the opportunities throughout the Community. The regional fund has been one of the great successes of the modern European Community. In 1974-75 when it was eventually funded, Commissioner Thompson had responsibility and I had the honour of being chairman of the European Parliament's regional policy commission. It was tremendous to see and to follow the improvements effected through the administration of the fund. The fund is administered differently in many of the states. I have never been enamoured at the way our Department of Finance have a choking grasp on every penny that comes through. I should like to see liberalisation where perhaps local authorities could be in a position to apply more directly to Europe for access to the fund rather than have it all channelled through the Department of Finance. There is scope for very meaningful amendments to bring the fruits of the Community closer to the people where they will be very obvious to the benefiting public.

The fact that the Common Agricultural Policy and the FEOGA funds are now being spread over two extra agricultural countries — Spain and Portugal — without a significant increase in the budget of the Community means a shrinkage in the funds available whether for the support of milk, beef or some other farm commodity. That is the kernel of the problem. Without adequate funding of the Community it is not possible to cater adequately for the diverse and widespread calls on the fund. Through the regional fund we can expect to get a clearer picture of the benefits that can accrue from the European Community.

In the entire debate which has been going on for a couple of years on European union one very common desire has been expressed, that is, that the Community should be more or less a guiding light, the policies should be much more flexible. The funds coming through FEOGA, the regional fund or the social fund should be more flexible and should be for a shorter term. It is not appropriate that some one or some sector should benefit from any one of the funds for a particular period or that the public expectations should be that it is like an old age pension — continue on until one departs.

The Community funds should be more flexible and should have a finger on the pulse of the various nations. The funds should be directed more sharply to areas of difficulty, areas of hardship, areas that have taken a nose dive in any year, any short period or season. That is important. I recognise the tremendous work that has been achieved through the social fund. The great work on the social fund and the laying down of the policy was spearheaded by our distinguished President, President Hillery, during his period as vice-president of the Commission with responsibility for social policy. Ireland has had so many benefits because the policy reflects, to a great extent, an Irish situation and Irish requirements.

Many of the AnCO type training programmes reflect the old Bord na Móna type block release courses that were in operation here for 20 years before we joined Europe. There was nothing comparable on the Continent. Our Commissioner at that time put forward desirable proposals or policies for this country and stitched them into the social action programme in such a way that they have been of significant benefit to us. Sometimes when you look at the overall expenditure under various headings from the social fund and realise the fact that it is stop gap, or short term, or cannot be of lasting benefit other than in the educational sphere, you wonder whether it would be possible to devise ways in which that huge expenditure could have a more lasting benefit? Nevertheless it is performing a function, but my own view is that it is a little too short term. I hope we will see, at least from a national point of view, someone coming up with a longer term policy in this regard.

It cannot be disputed that the European Communities have played a significant role in the development of our economy and in improving our living and working conditions in so many areas.

They have guaranteed our markets for the past 15 years. They have guaranteed our price structure for most agricultural products and that has started the agricultural industry on a great period of development and improvement over the past couple of years. The industry has taken a bashing mainly from the adverse weather conditions where this year, we had disastrous yields in both grain and beet and, indeed, in milk production. That coupled with the change in the system has meant the entire agricultural industry are not sure of what the future holds for them and now that the Community have laid down these new guidelines we should have a national policy which would reflect the direction in which we should be going having regard to the changes we have been reading about in today's papers.

I hope people will study this Single European Act and bend their minds to the task of recognising the new points in it from which we can derive significant benefit, rather than following the alternative line of underlining the areas — and I am sure there are an equal number of them — that will cause problems for us or reduce our expectations somewhat. By and large the exercise is good and it is positive. I compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the work he has put into it and his very forthright presentation of the pros and cons of the Single European Act. In publishing the explanatory guide the Government have made quite clear what we can expect from the Community in the years immediately ahead.

The Community must remain progressive and innovative and be capable of meeting and dealing with every challenge that presents itself in the future. The Single European Act is in our interest. It will strengthen the Community of which we are part and it will lead to a faster development in Community policies which are so important to us. I hope our Ministers will leave no stone unturned to ensure that, as far as the Republic of Ireland is concerned, it is just not a matter of being good Europeans but of being there and being able to recognise the areas from which we derive benefit. At the same time on the home front we should be able to guide the various sectors of industry and encourage them to produce the produce that has a guaranteed market from which they can benefit.

I welcome the Act and I compliment the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. I compliment Deputy Maurice Manning and Deputy Joe Walsh on the amount of work they have put into their study of the report. The joint committee over the years have produced more reports than any other joint committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas. We have been diligent in our efforts to have as many of those reports as possible debated in this House over the years. It was a fairly heavy workload and it gave the public an opportunity to see the work of the joint committee in trying to highlight the finer points of the secondary legislation. In this very comprehensive report the Single European Act was analysed. We received submissions from many interested parties both for and against the Act. We heard some oral submissions and they are reflected in this document which represents quite an amount of work.

After working on the report and studying the legislation presented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs I came to the conclusion that this Act is yet another milestone in the continued development of this country and in the evolvement of the European Community. It behoves all of us to ensure that our efforts are directed towards ensuring that the maximum possible benefits will be won for Ireland through the individual units, farms and factories and that we can derive benefits from that.

It is true to say that the Single European Act marks a significant development towards the achievement of the two central political objectives which exist within the European Community. It is important at this stage to spell out as clearly as I can these two central political objectives because they pose problems for us today and will continue to pose problems for us in the foreseeable future as a society which propounds the idea of neutrality and as a society which is underdeveloped on the periphery of the European economy. Anybody who follows closely the trend in political thinking within the European Community cannot avoid the conclusion that there are two principal objectives behind that thinking. The first of these is to create total political integration within the Community and linked to that is the desire to create a common European defence and security policy.

The reason the Europeans are thinking in terms of developing a common and independent European defence and security policy is that they are concerned at being caught in the middle between two super powers in the event of a nuclear war. Recent statements by President Reagan at least two years ago that he could envisage a limited nuclear war being fought on European territory have terrified European politicians and strengthened their commitment to achieving this common European defence and security policy. That is one of the central underlying objectives of European political development within the Communities right now.

The second one is an abiding concern, which has been in existence for many years, at the possibility that the European economy, taken as a whole, will not be able in the long term to sustain competition from the US and from the Asiatic economies. Therefore, they want to take steps to strengthen European economic systems and to enable Europe to survive and compete in the new technological world against these two major economic powers, the US and the Asians, especially the Japanese. In order to set about creating the third economic force as it were, they want to introduce systems of free competition and to open the market to enable new technological industries to develop indigenously within Europe.

Those two objectives which in my view are fundamental to European political thinking right now are eminently sensible from the point of view of the majority of the member states of the Communities. I can understand well why non-neutral States — 11 of the member states at present are part of NATO — would be concerned at the excessive reliance they now have on a US led NATO and would be concerned to try to develop an independent defence and security policy. I can understand equally why large mainland economies in Europe would wish to set about creating a full free market so that they can develop in order to compete and survive against the larger States that I have mentioned.

There is no doubt at all that the achievement of these two objectives and the attempt to achieve these two objectives in the future pose serious problems for us. While I am aware that Ireland does not have easy options in the context of its membership of the Community, nonetheless, it behoves us to be extraordinarily tough minded in our approach and to see to it — since we do have legal rights within the Community — that our interests are fully protected. I have grave reservations to the effect that our interests, in two areas in particular, have not been properly defended in the context of this Single European Act.

The first area of concern is obviously the issue of our neutrality. All of us in this House are aware that we in this country are not too clear about what that neutrality is in any event. I should like to spell out what my concept of it is. It is true to say that, while all of us will indicate that we are committed to it, we do not have a common view on what it is. For many people in Irish political life over the years, Irish neutrality has been conditional on the solution to Northern Ireland — the ending of Partition. If that could be achieved, Irish neutrality, it has been suggested frequently, is something that is expendable. It has also been said on many occasions by senior politicians that while we are militarily neutral, we are not politically indifferent. When they speak of neutrality, they speak of it in a very limited sense, in a sense of being prepared to opt out of military alliances but not being prepared to have a fully independent world view. For me and the Labour Party, this notion of distinguishing between military neutrality and independence in foreign policy is not sustainable. When we talk about neutrality, we talk not just about military neutrality but also about being independent in our foreign policy and neutral in our foreign policy as between the super powers.

I regret to say that the motion before us this evening does not go down that route. It stops at the point where it reaffirms Irish military neutrality but does not go to the point where it affirms our independence in foreign policy matters. It affirms our indifference between the foreign policies of the super powers. It is regrettable that the motion did not go further.

The concern that must arise in the context of Article 30.6 (c) of the Single European Act is that, while it is clear that the other member states of the Community say that so far as military matters are concerned these must be discussed within the Western European Union and should not be discussed within the context of EPC, nevertheless, when they talk about foreign policy, they put an onus on all member states, as far as possible, to act in concert and to consult each other before taking decisions. While the theory, that set of Articles at 30.6 would appear to defend our position, I think in practice — as somebody said last weekend — the distinctions between military neutrality on the one hand and the requirement of co-operation on foreign policy matters on the other, will very rapidly blur the distinction and very rapidly drag us into a position where we will find it very difficult to pursue an independent line on any matter of substance.

The motion before us certainly is an advance on the original intention as to how this debate would be conducted in both Houses of the Oireachtas in that it attempts to indicate a reaffirmation of our neutral position. While I welcome that motion in its limited form, it does not have any legal consequences within the European Community. I would have preferred that we would have done what the Danes did, that is, not only achieve the concept of military matters being discussed within the Western European Union as set down in Article 30.6(c) but also seek to put into the final Act a declaration which set down clearly our position as a neutral country. I quote from the declarations contained in the Final act of the Single European Act:

The Danish Government states that the conclusion of Title III on European Political Co-operation in the sphere of foreign policy does not affect Denmark's participation in Nordic co-operation in the sphere of foreign policy.

The Danish Government have insisted on the insertion in the Final Act of a declaration which protects their position in European law. For some reason which escapes me, we did not choose to seek such a declaration. It is noticeable that the only declaration we sought in the Final Act is one related to the insurance industry. I regret that very much. While everybody understands the fact that Ireland cannot opt out of the European development process, we do have an obligation to protect firmly our own deeply held positions. Despite the fact that we are not altogether clear in this country as to what we mean by neutrality, we are all clear that neutrality, however defined, is significant. We should have seen to it that a declaration to protect our interests in this area was added to the Final Act as the Danes did.

The second area of concern has been referred to by most speakers so far, that is, the question about the consequences for an under-developed, small economy on the periphery of the European Community which will arise from the implementation of the internal market by 1992. As we know, the steps towards the full development of the internal market by 1992 are set down clearly by the Commission in its White Paper on that subject. There is a timetable. There are clear and specific decisions to be taken and all going well — and this is not always the case with European politics — the internal market will be fully in place by 1992.

The internal market is about the elimination of all barriers, physical, technical and fiscal to the free movement of goods, capital, people and services, in other words, the development of a market throughout the member states which is as free as markets within any one of those States. There is one inevitable consequence which arises when we talk about a fully free market and it is a well know concept in economics. In a free market, particularly a trans-national one, the inevitable tendency will be for capital to move towards the centre of that market. In a free market economic power is in the strongest areas.

There is no doubt at all that the development of the internal market will put enormous pressure on this economy. There is no reason to elaborate on that at great length; it is a well known reality in economic life. If Europe chooses to go down that route we should expect, as a small under-developed peripheral economy, that countervailing measures will be put in place to compensate for the outward flow of capital, services, and so on. While it is true to say that the concept of regional distribution is included in this treaty for the first time, it is included only in the form of words, intentions and desirabilities. There are no figures involved. There are no specific measures involved, or clear indications as to how cohesion will develop, at what rate, on what scale, at what cost. None of these things is mentioned. The internal market development procedure is clearly defined, whereas the countervailing regional distribution procedures are not defined and, we understand, will not be defined until the course of next year.

The fact that the internal market development is given precedence over the cohesion measures seems to me to be a matter of great concern to us and a concern which, I suspect, will grow rather rapidly over the next three or four years. The fact that the internal market development is given precedence reflects the prevailing political ethos in Europe at the moment which is private enterprise capitalist based and that is a matter with which we should all concern ourselves deeply because there are a number of issues that immediately arise.

One is: if it is possible to move capital totally freely throughout the Community, why should Irish capital be invested in Ireland at all? Why would the serious capital owner or capitalist choose to invest his capital in Ireland if he can invest it more profitably in mainland Europe and I suspect most discerning capitalists in the years ahead, given the new freedoms they will have, will do precisely that.

Secondly, it is clear from the Single European Act that there will be a levelling out of corporation taxes across the Community. Low corporation taxation is one of the most important means by which we attract multinational companies to this country. Many of us would argue that our industrial development policy has been excessively based on this strategy but, none the less, if you equalise corporation tax across the Community the attractiveness of low levels of corporation taxes to multinational companies will be in turn eliminated. That is a matter of great concern to us, or should be. The free movement of capital, people, services, and goods will be in place, but the countervailing measures, will not be in place, the countervailing measures which we require if we are to sustain our economy at any kind of reasonable level in the foreseeable future, given the already serious difficulties we are in before the internal market begins to come into operation at all in the way envisaged.

It would have been wise of us to have got some economists at an early stage in the discussion on the Single European Act to work out the economic consequences of the Commission's White Paper on the Development of the Internal Market. There are in place 300 directives ready to go. What are the economic consequences for us of the implementation of these directives or what will be the implications? Nobody seems to have gone to the trouble of working this out. We should have done it and, in the course of working it out, we should have said no to the Single European Act unless specific regional distribution measures are put in place which are defined, which have a timetable and which are adequate to compensate us for the consequences of the free market. That was not done.

In fact, I am not sure there was a great deal of economic insight brought to bear on the negotiations at all, and that is a problem because, while obviously the Department of Foreign Affairs must have precedence in the negotiations on international treaties of one kind or another and the conduct of foreign affairs generally, when we are involved in this kind of issue it would have been appropriate to bring into place people whose business is economics.

One has to recognise that there are dangers involved for Ireland in opting out of the process of European political development. I do not think any of us would say we can opt out now without serious consequences, but we can opt in on a far tougher basis than we have done with this Act. For example, the fact that we have tabled a motion which will be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas reaffirming the existence and consequences of Protocol 30 of itself has no more consequence in terms of European law than Protocol 30 has. What we are doing is reaffirming to ourselves what are the concerns of the Parliament about the Single European Act but that is of no consequence to anybody else apart from ourselves. A minimum objective should have been to get built into the final Single European Act, a declaration which would have European legal significance. As an example, I would give the declaration built in by the Greeks who are extraordinarily tough minded when they approach the business of European negotiation. They built in a declaration on Article 8 (a) of the EC Treaty which said:

Greece considers that the development of Community policies and actions, and the adoption of measures on the basis of articles 70 (1) and 84, must both take place in such a way as not to harm sensitive sectors of Member States' economies.

That declaration in the Act has legal significance. Greece can act on it in the Court of Justice should it find in the course of the development of the internal market that key sectors of its economy are being unduly strained, or pressurised, or damaged. We do not have such an option since we chose not to fight for such a declaration in the final Act.

We would need the Greeks to protect our interests.

Indeed. The Greeks decided to opt for this declaration in the final Act despite the fact that as new entrants to the European Community of five or six years they have already got in place with Spain and Portugal the integrated Mediterranean operations which are highly specific to those three countries and which, in many respects, already represent the regional distribution or countervailing measure I am suggesting we need here. Despite the fact that they already have the integrated Mediterranean operation in place, they still felt it necessary to have a declaration made and we did not, for some reason which escapes me.

I believe those two areas of concern are not only not fully covered by the final outcome of the Single European Act and by the motion before us, but they will remain matters of concern over the next couple of years. I have no doubt that there will be enormous pressure on this society to opt for the European defence policy, to opt for European political integration and a merging of Irish foreign policy with European foreign policy. There will be prices put on us for not doing so, prices in the economics sphere. They will trade economic assistance to us for our assistance in the areas of foreign policy and security. Outside the very limited sphere of military neutrality we will not have any legal basis on which to withstand that pressure.

Similarly in the area of the development of the internal market, it will be found that, as things come into play, Irish capital will begin to move out more rapidly than in the past and ownership of Irish companies will increasingly fall into foreign hands. That is the logic of the internal market put into place for small under-developed peripheral economies. I hope that, since we now have got to the point where the European Act will be passed in Ireland and in the other countries in its present form, we will begin to come to grips with those two matters and begin to put together a tough-minded and hard-headed approach to offset the worst consequences for us in both of these areas.

The first thing I have to say is that we have been hearing for some weeks about the demands for time to discuss this. Judging by the empty benches in front of me I think the enthusiasm for a long debate is in the process of collapsing.

I vigorously opposed the decision of this country to join the European Economic Community so many years ago. I am an unreconstructured opponent of our membership of the European Community. In looking at the present position and the future position, it behoves me to have a quick look back at what was said then and what has happened since. The opportunities that were promised to us and the possibilities of rapid growth in living standards both in terms of industrial employment and in terms of agricultural development and tourism and fisheries almost manifestly have not come to pass. We have not seen the great parousia that was offered to us in 1972. The only argument is about whether our membership of the EC contributed to that, inhibited that, or made a bad situation worse, or prevented us from getting into worse difficulties. I do not think any one would stand over the suggestion that any thing like what was promised us has been achieved.

The doubts that were expressed in 1972 had to do with whether a small, peripheral, under-developed country could successfully compete in a large market. This has nothing to do with whether people believed that we, as a people were able to do things. It had nothing to do with a lack of belief in ourselves. It was the very opposite. It had to do with standing back and addressing the question of the structure of the economy at that time, the assets the economy had at its disposal, the structural weaknesses that were contained in the economy at that stage, the resources that were available within the economy and whether the resources that were available in terms of policy instruments, in terms of legislation, would be sufficiently protected, or would be improved by membership of the EC, or whether those resources would be undermined by membership of the Community. My view was then, as it is now, that the balance of advantage would have rested with our remaining outside because of the huge, in terms of development, in terms of our dependence on agriculture, dependence on fisheries etc.

It is funny that we are constantly being told now how much more it is than an economic community. At the time, we were told how much it was just an economic community and, while there were pious aspirations about European union, it was made perfectly clear to us at the time that joining the EC did not involve any commitment to move in that direction. It was an aspiration, but that was not what we were deciding about. Many of us felt at the time that the prospect of an independent neutral Ireland with an independent foreign policy would be severely inhibited by joining a Community in which the dominant political force would be that of NATO. We were, of course, aware that the European Community had a political dimension. What we were not asked to decide on was any commitment to move in the direction of European union. We were asked to subscribe to certain aspirations which were then and still are so vague as to be nothing more than an aspiration that we should all hold hands and be nice to each other. They could also mean something very close to a United States of Europe but, more manifestly, we were not taking a specific decision in that direction.

Counter-balancing fears about the future of industry, counter-balancing fears about the threat to our independence, our sovereignty and our neutrality was a huge hype about the benefits to agriculture. There is no doubt that there was a great spurt in agriculture. I hear members of the farming community and representatives of farming organisations telling us that agricultural incomes have halved since 1973, notwithstanding huge transfers. Transfers of resources are not as simple as people might imagine because, if you have large sums of money being transferred out of people's disposable income to pay for high food prices, the net value of the transfer to the non-agricultural community, even if it does not transfer out of the Community, is very difficult to assess. If the consequences of high inflation, high food prices, etc., is to push up the cost of agricultural inputs, net benefit to farming of all the EC transfers becomes even less.

I have heard representatives of the farming organisations talk about a halving of agricultural incomes since 1973. Even if it had not happened like that, I would still wonder at the blindness of people who believed that the Common Agricultural Policy was permanent and was of a sufficiently permanent nature to justify the risk that the country was taking to its possible industrial development, particularly if independent industrial development, irrespective of the nature of the economic system we had. This side of Eastern Europe there are no centrally planned economies. They are all different forms of mixed economies of one kind or another. It is still true that there are a number of economies which are useful models for this country and the interesting thing is that most of them are outside the European Community.

Nevertheless, we were presented with this balance sheet, and the balance sheet read: a huge boost for agriculture, the capacity to gain economic independence from Britain, the capacity to participate in a large market, all of those things. The people decided and the people are supreme and, therefore, we are in the European Community. It is possible for the people to be wrong. In my view they made a mistake as recently as last June on an issue, but I support absolutely their absolute right to take their decisions.

I also respect profoundly the wisdom of the people, not the wisdom of the people who represent one particular view, but the wisdom of the people as they support various political organisations and as they support various nonpolitical organisations. I do not think our people are hood-winked, or brainwashed, or misled by anybody whether it be Fine Gael, the Catholic Church, Fianna Fáil, the GAA, or anybody else. Our people have a profound wisdom and I say this as a unrepresentative person with a non-representative political point of view.

Therefore, when the people decided that we should join the EC I respected that decision and respected it profoundly. There is no doubt that in the early years of membership of the European Community we did find things quite to our benefit. One could argue forever that if the first oil crisis had not happened things might have been entirely different. There was quite a spurt in foreign investment in this country by virtue of our being part of a large market, an attractive market for many overseas investors. It was also an enormously profitable investment to be made by foreign investment.

The IDA are most adept at quoting the United States figures which show that return on United States investment in Ireland is higher than United States investment anywhere else in the world. So, if we were attracting investment it was not because of anything to do with the dynamism of the Irish economy; it was the capacity of people in the Irish economy to link in to a large market. That was the attraction sold to us and that was the basis on which, at an industrial level, people accepted the Community.

We did pay an enormous price at the time. The price may well have had to be paid. Large areas of traditional industry were devastated, but we chose to allow fairly brutal market forces within a large scale market to bring about the re-structuring of our industry. There are other European countries outside the EC with the capacity to follow policies that would be inconsistent with centralised European policy who have done entirely different things in terms of restructuring their industry and have achieved a far higher level of restructuring of their industry and of the introduction of modern technology into their manufacturing industry than we have. They have done it outside the EC. Because it is part of the basic ideology of the European Community that we should allow, as far as possible, competitive forces and market forces to determine the way industry is structured, to determine the priorities of manufacturing industry and to determine the distribution indeed of manufacturing industry, let us not fool ourselves about regional policies.

We heard during the course of the referendum in the early seventies considerable talk about the regional policy that was going to do so much. It turned out once we joined the EC that there was no regional policy. There was no regional fund but there was, and it is quite ironical in the light of the present discussion, a commitment to introduce one and it took an enormous amount of struggling, an enormous amount of questioning to produce a minuscule regional fund. The regional fund is minuscule by comparison, for instance, with expenditure on the Common Agricultural Policy.

When we looked at our industry at that stage, we were told, and most of us saw, that it could do either of two things. Access to a large highly-developed economy could either stimulate the economy to huge efforts of growth and development, to recognition of new markets, to identification of new products, to attraction of new investment on a grand scale or, alternatively, it would tend to draw capital towards the centre. I think there was some evidence at the beginning that we did attract considerable investment, that there was a considerable stimulation of the economy, but the evidence in later times, and in particular the evidence of the consistent view of virtually the entire Irish establishment, is that what we are now involved in is a far more competitive situation, for more competition for investment, far more competition in terms of industrial efficiency, far more competition in terms of the way the market is allowed and, indeed, encouraged to operate.

The European Community is effectively a model of a European economy very much on the style Margaret Thatcher approves of and in that model, as is evidenced in Britain and will be evidenced to us in the future, peripheral regions have very little option but to compete for industrial investment through the market. That means pricing themselves into the market at a price that is acceptable to the market which inevitably will depress labour costs and which inevitably will force down the standard of living in the peripheral regions to justify the cost of investment in those regions. That is what we are now being told.

We are being told by spokesmen of the Irish establishment, political, economic, social, training and so on, AnCO people and people in educational establishments, that this is a new world, a new world of competition, of market forces, of reward for effort, of reward for success and that the old ideas of security, of mutual support and concern are now a thing of the past. This is a brave new competitive world into which we have been inserted. This brave new competitive world is a tough, hard world and it is a far cry from the image of the benevolent European Community which was going to draw us benevolently up to a European standard of industrial development, of economic development and of welfare and social policy. We have got a cut back in one area and, as a consequence, we are told of the necessity to become competitive in another area.

That at least is still a chapter which is to be completed. The biggest deception that we presented to ourselves was in the area of agriculture. I say all this in the context of the Single European Act and particularly in the determination to complete the internal market. I have always been astonished not just at the capacity of people to deceive themselves and to think with totally different economic philosophies, but at the determination of the entire Irish establishment not to confront the issue and in this I refer to the Common Agricultural Policy. Those who most freely and vocally, and I would almost say with an ideological passion, advocate the merits of competition, the merits of the free market as a stimulus to investment, as a stimulus to innovation, as a stimulus to entrepreneurial activity, are the ones who most vigorously defend the exact opposite kind of economic philosophy when it comes to agriculture. Those are the ones who led us into the European Community because of the artificial nature of the agricultural market in the European Community.

Everything the free marketeers, the advocates of free competition, of the completion of the internal market, stand for is contradicted by the Common Agricultural Policy. Guaranteed prices without reference to market forces, guaranteed sales without reference to market demand, guaranteed sales with very little reference even to quality, all of that in the area of agriculture and the exact opposite in the area of industry. It is astonishing the way large parts of the economic and political establishment feel obliged every year to lecture the industrial work force about the fact that the only increase in wages that can be given to them is one which is related to increased productivity and, even then, they must realise that part of the increased productivity must go into reinvestment. One concedes, of course, that increased industrial productivity has to pay for future industrial investment.

It is astonishing, though, that at the same time the same people who freely advocate that perfectly rational policy at one level then go ahead and tell us they are going to argue for the maximum possible price increases in agriculture irrespective of market pressures, irrespective of market demands, irrespective of productivity gains — prices in agriculture must rise and must rise each year. It is an extraordinary contradiction to have free marketeers in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael telling us about the virtues of free competition, the virtues of the market economy and when it comes to agriculture telling us: "no, in the area of agriculture we do not believe in a free market; we do not believe in a competitive economy; we believe in a protected economy; we believe in guaranteed prices". That inherent contradiction is what is about to be resolved, in my view, at the expense of Irish agriculture and, indeed, in the long term at the expense of Irish industrial workers and the Irish nation generally.

Since yesterday we should have no doubts about the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. What led us into a fairly uncritical acceptance of membership of the European Community is now coming home to roost. It was the guarantee of markets for agricultural production; it was the guarantee of prices for agricultural production, that swept us into the European Community. What we are now being told is that those guarantees are at an end, that what happened yesterday is the beginning of the end of the Common Agricultural Policy. I confidently predict that within the next ten years, European agriculture will have been totally restructured in a quite ruthless way so that European agriculture will be effectively market dominated producing what the market wants at the price the market will accept. That, of course, will result in devastation on under-developed peripheral agricultural economies like ours. However well the Minister may have negotiated to slow down the process he has conceded that the process is starting.

It is perfectly logical in a Community which is dedicated to the dominance of market forces, in a Community which believes that free competition is the proper stimulus to incentive and to industrial development generally, that people who believe that should extend that philosophy into the area of agriculture. It is ludicrous, on the other hand, to suggest that you can have agriculture based on artificial fixed prices and fixed demand and, at the same time, have industry acting in an opposite direction. What we are actually seeing is the inevitable consequence of the dominant ideology in the European Community which is that of the free market unrestrained by regulation, unrestrained by tariff barriers and unrestrained by any of the various official and unofficial restraints that various member countries introduced to preserve sensitive areas.

Agriculture which was the big attraction is in the process of suffering a major decline which I am convinced is irreversible and which we could probably best deal with by actually encouraging the operation of free market forces in agriculture so that at least when we come to the end of this process of decline we will have a properly restructured agriculture capable of producing whatever products we find we can produce most competitively under free market conditions and sell in the European Community. The protection of Europe's agriculture from world market forces is rapidly coming to an end.

I thought it was always inevitable because I recognised the dominant ideology, the dominant economic philosophy in the European Community. What astonishes me is that people of considerable intelligence and far more political experience and wisdom than I spent ten or 12 years up to about a year ago denying that it would happen when it was perfectly obvious that it was inevitable that it would happen. Now our industry is vulnerable and our capacity to attract foreign investment is questionable. The NESC report recently published on the future of the development of economic and social policy here has a very interesting analysis on the phase of development we are now at in terms of attracting overseas investment and which suggests that it has nothing to do with any inherent structural faults or any inherent problems in this country, but that we have reached the optimum level for foreign investment. They are now looking for other countries that are at the stage of development we were at 20 years ago and that they will go through this same process of investment.

The idea that we can attract foreign investment just because we are in a large market is a thing of the past, because large parts of the market are now open to external competition from outside the Community. We have benefited to the extent of having some increase in wage rates and some increase in social costs and, therefore, we are no longer an acceptable area for overseas investment. That is the future for industry. The future for agriculture is equally grim. Anybody who pretends that agriculture is in for anything other than a hard time is either being deliberately dishonest or is exercising a uniquely Irish capacity to be interested in everything except the facts of the matter.

It is in that context that one must look at the Single European Act. We are not in the first flush of innocent virginity about the nature of the European Community. We now know and have experience to judge the past by it. Therefore, when we are made promises about things such as countervailing measures to deal with the effects of the freeing of the market we have experience by which to measure the validity of such promises.

It is a remarkable fact that a small peripheral country like ours with a poorly developed economy, and with no great reason to believe that membership of the European Community over the past number of years, when losses are counted against gains, has contributed that much to our development when we are at the stage that we have not attempted to quantify the impact of the 300 statutory directives that are waiting to be implemented to complete the internal market. It is with that sort of bleak view that one should look at the Single European Act.

We are being told that there is a combination of threats and promises involved in this process of ratifying the Single European Act. You do not have to be a professor of economics — you would be better not to be a professor of economics — to realise that in a large market with the areas of maximum development close to the geographical centre, the capital of the periphery will be attracted towards the geographical centre. The options will be more plentiful and the capacity for more liberal financial markets will be greater in the areas of maximum economic development.

The reason you do not have to be a professor of economics is that professors of economics tend to have such passionate commitments to a particular economic model that the possible destruction of a peripheral market of our size is a minor inconvenience in terms of the development of their high-faluting large scale model. Therefore, it is far better to be a human being and look at what you know will happen than to don the spectacles of a professor of economics and look at the facts through the blue tinted spectacles of a particular economic ideology, because there is no such thing as an independent economist. Economists make assumptions and the assumptions determine their economic policy, and the assumptions are a reflection of their policies.

Nobody would argue that the completion of the internal market in the way that is advocated by the European Commission would be a major attraction for capital, the flow from this country to the centre of the European Community. The question therefore arises: what is to be done? An even bigger question which arises is whether any measures we are taking, however grandiose, could prevent the natural flow of capital towards the area of maximum return and investment. At the end of it all, it is important to remember that you can appeal to the patriotism of a labour force in terms of labour costs and probably, if not always, get a positive response. Nobody would even bother to appeal to the patriotism of those who determine where capital moves because, (a) they know it would be pointless and, (b) they would be regarded as unrealistic to do so.

It is realistic to ask labour to accept issues other than the price of their labour to determine what they do when they sell their labour. It is not realistic to ask those who control the movement of capital to exercise a similar restraint for reasons other than economic gain. That is what is known as being unrealistic. That is why those of us on the left believe the only way to deal with the movement of capital is to bring it under public control. Nevertheless, if we are to move towards the completion of an internal market we would have hoped, as Senator O'Mahony said, for countervailing measures.

The problem with the countervailing measures is, as was the position with the regional policy 14 years ago, that they are promised, they are not quantified and we do not know what is the validity of the commitment to those countervailing measures, nor the scale of the commitment to those countervailing measures. We can make some assessment. The assessment is that they will be minuscule. At present the major source of expenditure within the European Community is the Common Agricultural Policy. It is already a widely held view that the cost of that policy is excessive. I do not know the precise figure but the revenue to pay for the Common Agricultural Policy is a minuscule percentage of the VAT returns of the entire Community. If it is regarded as being excessive in scale for the entire Common Agricultural Policy, it is extremely unlikely that any countervailing measures in terms of regional development will go anywhere near the scale of the cost of the Common Agricultural Policy. Therefore, we are talking of something substantially less than 1 per cent of the total VAT returns of the entire European Community to finance countervailing measures. That is such a tiny sum of money as to be trivial in terms of the scale of the damage that could be done to our economy. One has, with considerable justification, to express profound scepticism.

The Minister for Agriculture did quite a remarkably good job given the realities that were presented to him yesterday. That is not the issue I want to raise here. Given the indifference to the under-developed state of Irish agriculture displayed by the Council of Ministers yesterday, where is there any reason for optimism about large scale measures to countervail the attraction of capital towards the centre of the European Community if the internal market is completed as is so passionately desired by the European Commission?

The truth is that there is no reason for optimism. The profoundly under-developed nature of Irish agriculture was barely acknowledged in the final decisions that were taken about the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. They did not reduce our milk production perhaps as much as they might have but they are still reducing dairy production in a country which is pathetically under-developed. We will not be allowed to bring dairy production, beef production or, I suspect in the longer term, cereal production, to the levels that prevail in the highly developed agricultural sectors of the original Community partners. That may well be a reality we will have to live with but it ought to indicate to us that there will not be any fund of goodwill to help us out in other areas when the internal market is completed.

We have no reason to be other than profoundly pessimistic about the goodwill that will be available to us from the Council of Ministers or from the European Community generally when this internal market is completed. We are, in my view, highly vulnerable. We have not costed the consequences of these 300 directives; we have no studies; we have no model of alternative options. We have, in fact, a quite extraordinary ideological consensus developing here which will, incidentally, be contributed to quite dramatically by the new editorial line that I am sure The Irish Times will take, which will contribute even more to the economic consensus. Those of us with alternative views will have to find another forum, I suspect.

We have an extraordinary consensus that we are inevitably hurtling down a particular slope towards something at the bottom which is clouded in the mist which is called the complete internal market.

We are told, therefore, there is no alternative, that the alternative is to leave the European Community. Therefore, we are presented with this gloomy inevitability. Large areas which could be instruments of national policy, in the areas of lending policy, industrial restructuring, purchasing policy, tariffs and standards, will be demolished or withdrawn from our hands in the interests of completing the internal market. Therefore, we will not have the instruments of policy to protect ourselves and we can rest assured that on the evidence of what has happened under the common agricultural policy we will not get any sort of assistance from the collective European Community to deal with the devastation that will result.

At this stage it is important to remember that there are two routes towards the future available to small European economies. There is the route which we have chosen which is within the European Community, but there are a considerable number of small European economies, many of them close to the periphery of Europe like ourselves, who have chosen a different route. I think of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Iceland, none of which is a member of the European Community yet they have had, over the last 12 years, in most cases, a better record of industrial production and growth, industrial restructuring, unemployment and inflation than this country. I am fed up with everybody telling me how they are all different from Ireland. I know they are all different from Ireland.

There is no country quite like us but we have to look at somewhere as remote from the European Continent as Iceland, which has a fishing industry infinitely better developed than the fishing industry in this country. We have to look at a country like Sweden, which has managed to restructure and modernise its industry to an extent unmatched anywhere in Europe, unmatched in Japan and unmatched in the United States, and did it by instruments other than free market forces. We have to look at a country like Finland and look at the role of State corporations parallel with private corporations in developing industrial production in Finland. We have to wonder why it is that all these countries were so successful outside the European Community. We have to wonder, too, why they stayed out.

A letter from the director of the Irish Council for the European Movement, which surfaced in a newspaper some time ago, was quite illustrative on that. He said that in the case of Sweden, Austria and Finland, their neutrality was different from our neutrality. He actually meant they were really neutral and we were not. He said they had a different kind of neutrality which prevented them from joining the European Economic Community. Incidentally, Sweden was definitely a member of the European free trade area. Therefore, it does not seem to have any problems in terms of its political neutrality or its foreign policy neutrality with free trade areas. The Swedes recognised something that we did not recognise back in the early seventies, that there was a profoundly serious political dimension to joining the European Economic Community which would inhibit any country's capacity to exercise an independent foreign policy.

I have to conclude that the real reason why uncritical acceptance of the Single European Act, of the inevitability of the Single European Act, of the possible economic consequences of the Single European Act and the unwillingness to reflect on the experience of the past to enlighten our perception of the future, which has characterised most of this debate, has to do with something other than economic realities. I am astonished that the advocates of free market economics, people who have a far more passionate commitment than I have, are the least willing to look at the economic facts when they become involved in a debate about economic policy.

There are people in this country who take a particular delight in playing with the big boys. It reminds me a little of my three year old daughter being particularly pleased when the six year olds allow her to play with them. The fact that she is neither sufficiently developed nor sufficiently articulate or independent to be able to handle that kind of game is beside the point. We are in a very similar position. We are a little, underdeveloped country which is apparently very proud of the fact that the big boys have let us into their game. The fact that we cannot handle it, not because of any inherent thing wrong with us but simply because of our state and stage of development, seems to me to be far more eloquent in describing the absence of real debate, the absence of a confrontation of the economic realities that are at the back of this debate than anything else I can discuss. A kind of boy scout mentality has frequently been attributed to us when it comes to our membership of the European Community. We should rewrite that as a cub scout mentality, being allowed to play with the boy scouts.

I am not saying that everybody has to join with me in saying that this Single European Act is not the right way to go forward. In fact, it is probably a regressive step but people have an obligation to confront more than just a couple of numbers about net transfers to this country. Net transfers are only a small part of the statement, as anybody who has watched the whole area of foreign aid will know. A country which I admire enormously, such as Tanzania, is the recipient of the maximum volume of foreign aid. It is a huge recipient of transfers into the country but for reasons to do with its structure, some policy mistakes and various other reasons, there is nothing to suggest that because Tanzania has received more transfers in from outside, it is now better off than some other countries who have received less.

There is no necessary correlation between the scale of transfers into a country and its economic development. It is a question of how those transfers are used. If, for instance, a large part of the transfers came into this country in the form of increased agricultural income and then a large part of those transfers were then consumed in a spending spree by agriculture and by farming in terms of purchasing consumer goods — a part of that would have been justified given the absymal living standards many people in agriculture have — a large part of that transfer is transferred out again in purchasing imports. Therefore, the real benefit to the economy of those net transfers is a matter that has yet to be quantified.

We should have been looking at what was the real benefit of those transfers. It is a bit like saying that because this country has borrowed enormously over the last ten years we are better off. We are presented daily with the arguments why we are worse off, because borrowing money which does not produce something which is of value is of no great benefit. Similarly, to look at net transfers of money into this country from the European Community and assume that therefore that must mean we are better off is simplistic in the extreme. When it is tolerated by people who have better qualification in the area of economics than I, it should send them back to look at the skills which they acquired when they became economists in the first place.

The whole area of the completion of the internal market is an interesting idea. It is a necessary condition for political coordination and for political union but it will involve things like developing common policies in all areas of taxation. That will necessarily have interesting implications of the internal market, as it stands and as it is written in the Single European Act, will do further damage to an already damaged economy. The common agricultural policy is clearly coming to an end. It is only a question of whether it dies in five or ten years.

Various areas of policy control and various instruments of policy are now being taken out of our hands. The evidence we have is that the European Community will not be the least bit benevolent towards us. The evidence of the Common Agricultural Policy that we were not allowed to reach anything like European levels before the cuts began illustrates that. It would make anybody extremely wary of this proposal.

The Single European Act does not end there. It also deals with co-ordinating foreign policy. I do not wish to get involved in a long argument about semantics but we have been told, for instance, that the reference to security in the Single European Act is in relation to economic and technological security. I found that impossible to believe. I read the Single European Act and I still find it impossible to believe. I do not believe that Irish neutrality is taken in the least bit seriously by the other European countries for the very good reason that they know that the Irish Government do not take Irish neutrality in the least seriously.

Military neutrality narrowly defined, which is usually addressed by at least one Government Minister every six months as an argument for higher military expenditure, is the best we can get. The idea that we, as a small country, should choose to think and act independently on issues of foreign policy is a long way from the consciousness of most of the leaders of the European Community. The fury of the British Government when we chose, quite rightly, to opt out of any support for the South Atlantic adventures was indicative of that. A country which is ostensibly neutral opting out of a military adventure of that scale and opting out of supporting a military adventure of that scale came as a great shock not only to the British Government but to most of the Government of Europe. It was probably a very welcome shock from our point of view because it made the point that we have a certain amount of sovereignty left.

In the area of foreign policy co-ordination one has to watch with increasing care as to what is going on. To suggest that the Single European Act is doing no more than formalising what was there already is far too trite as well. There is a fundamental difference between an ad hoc arrangement and the Treaty. Even if the Treaty builds in escape clauses for people in certain circumstances there are certain aspirations there. We have only to consider that one of the aspirations in the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which was most boasted about by the Irish Government, was the aspiration that every effort would be made to achieve agreement in the Inter-governmental Conference. We were told that it was very important, a huge step forward, a real concession, one step away from joint authority. We are told that similar wording in the Single European Act about the need for the members to take every possible step to act in cohesion is of no significance. It cannot be of significance in the Anglo-Irish Agreement and then become of no significance somewhere else just because it is awkward. Words like that have their own meaning and the meaning is one step along the way.

I do not believe that the Single European Act is throwing away our neutrality because I never thought somebody would say we were abandoning our neutrality. It will simply become something like the penal laws, something on the record with less and less meaning and less and less significance like huge areas of our legislation which were drafted in another era and which are still there because nobody got around to repealing them but which are effectively meaningless. That is the way our neutrality will be lost. I do not think anybody cares whether we, militarily, join NATO. That is not the issue. The issue is access to certain services like communications, intelligence, the certainty of goodwill under certain pressurised circumstances. They are far more important.

We do not need to join NATO. As long as we are co-operative in the other areas, as long as we do not rock the boat too much in areas where there is a profound European interest at stake nobody cares if we decide to be independent about whether we ban one further product from South Africa than most of the other European countries do. Nobody will care if we decide to be one dot more critical about the attitude of the South African Government or about some other question. That is not the issue. The real issue is if all the time we can be trusted to act in the interests of the major powers in Europe and, particularly not to inhibit European aspirations to become a third super power. If we go along with our little bit of independence trailing behind us nobody will worry too much as long as we can be trusted to behave. The more we are integrated into a European market the less control we have over various areas of policy, particularly the flow of capital, and the more they can rely on us not to rock the boat too much because of the possible consequences for whatever small concessions they choose to throw in our way.

It is not as if we have suddenly gone from a stage of being neutral to a stage of being not neutral. There has been quite a dramatic shift in the policy of the Government in the last 12 months or so from the time the newspapers in the United States were screaming, "the Irish Prime Minister denounced Reagan Central American policy when he was here" to the position where we now are unwilling to condemn economic sanctions by the biggest super power in the world against one of the poorest countries in the world because such a condemnation is unbalanced. We have moved to the position where we cannot unequivocally condemn the United States support for the Contras in Nicaragua because that is unbalanced, where we cannot condemn the brutal bombing of Libya by the United States airforce because that is unbalanced, where a bombing wave which kills children is unbalanced when we had at the time no convincing evidence that that particular outrageous activity was justified, when we can at the same time condemn certain activities as being wrong, when we can get ourselves involved in a convention on terrorism which we believe to be a good thing. The problem is not therefore that this legislation takes us further away from neutrality than we were before. It is not as simple as that. The problem is that we were stepping away from that position on neutrality and this Single European Act is a formalising of that first step away from an intelligent, independent foreign policy which is what real neutrality is about. It is about a faith in ourselves on a number of areas and a capacity to think and act independently.

It is interesting that a number of the countries I listed as having quite successful economic policies and policies which are successful, independent of the European Community, also have independent foreign policies. Let us not pretend that these countries which have independent foreign policies are all somehow intimidated by another super power. I am fed up being told that the Austrians and the Finns are one step away from being in the pocket of the Russian bear and must be very careful about what they say. From my experiences with them these parliamentarians do not feel they have to defer all the time to the nearest super power because of the existence of a common boundary.

Many of them have found that the existence of a common boundary has been of a considerable stimulus to economic growth. They simply feel that they have developed a position where they can be independent on many issues, where they can take an independent stance. I am not saying that I necessarily agree with all these countries in everything they do. It is their capacity to think and act independently and it is, above all, their belief in their own capacity to think and to act independently. That is why I am unhappy about the Single European Act on the issue of Irish neutrality and the possibility of military alliances. It is not because we have taken a dramatic step but it is because a dramatic step we have already taken is being evidenced.

The obsequiousness to the United States which has characterised emanations from the Department of Foreign Affairs over the last 12 to 18 months, and which obviously is the policy of the Government, is one of the great tragedies for this country. The willingness to speak and act independently has been brokered away either because of an ideological shift in Government thinking, which would have at least the merit of being based on principle or alternatively, and much worse, for the sake of 50 million dollars a year to aid the Anglo-Irish Agreement which would be much more painful and extremely sad. That is why I hope the Labour Party motion which we will be debating later today will be passed. Given the shifts which seem to take place in our foreign policy without much in the line of parlimentary accountability, the sooner we have an Oireachtas committee to deal with the area of foreign policy the more likely it is that we will be able to identify what are the strands and the strategies behind our foreign policy.

It is not the abandoning of our neutrality that worries me but that it is part of a process which began a year or two ago to walk away from independent thinking. Military neutrality is the least part of our neutrality. It is a necessary condition but it is not a sufficient condition for any worthwhile independence of foreign policy. It is a question of whether we believe, given our history, our position and various other parts of our cultural heritage, we have a unique role to play. I think we have. I am beginning to think that the common characteristic of most of those in Irish politics is a despair in our capacity to be independent, to think independently, to work independently and to work together. Therefore, we are looking for some Big Brother, benevolent or otherwise, to take us out of the hole we have found ourselves in. I stopped believing in Santa Claus a long time ago. It is a lovely idea for children but there is not a Santa Claus in Brussels prepared to bail us out of economic problems of our own making. There is a large super power developing there, with the interests of a super power in military matters, in political matters, in economic matters and in global strategic matters — hence the shameful compromises on the South African scandal.

It is because we have given away something we did not have to give away in recent times, both because of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and because of our newly-found obeisance to NATO on many issues, that I am worried about the Single European Act. To suggest that the clause which refers to the other eleven members not being inhibited as somehow recognising Irish neutrality is one of the most nonsensical statements I have every heard. What is contained in the Single European Act which refers to Irish neutrality is a very clear guarantee that Irish neutrality will not be allowed to prevent the others doing anything they want to do under the title of the Atlantic alliance or the Western European Union. It is simply a very definite clarification of the fact that we will not be allowed to inhibit the others — it is not in any way a recognition of our unique position.

Tragically we have given away our unique position. It has been given away by some of the people, particularly the Labour Party members of Government, because of this boy scout mentality I described before and also because of the shellshocked nature of the present Government and, in particular, of the Labour Party Ministers in the light of the experience of the past four years.

What we need in Ireland is a belief in ourselves. That is not a Sinn Féin mentality. It is a sense of a confidence that we can do things well, that we can develop products well, can sell things well, can make things well, can develop and create wealth and that we do not have to give away most of our fisheries for the privilege of staying in the European Community. We do not have to walk into a new treaty which binds us further than the original Treaty of Accession bound us and somehow feel obliged to do so because otherwise we will be kicked out of the European Community. The logic used to explain the consequences if we did not ratify the Single European Act said much about the realities of the European Community. Notwithstanding the benevolence we are supposed to expect to protect us from some of the worst ravages of the completion of the internal market, we are told consequences of our not ratifying the Act would be extremely painful for us. It suggests to me that there are not many benevolent Big Brothers out there prepared to help us out; if they are not prepared to allow us the freedom to make our own choices, they are not particularly benevolent about us and our future. We should look at our future and at our economic strategy. Otherwise we are liable to become something like Puerto Rico in its relation to the United States — dominated, underdeveloped, impoverished and yet totally controlled.

The alternative is to believe in ourselves, which we used to do and which we can do again. This treaty is not a decisive step — I am not that pessimistic — but it is a further step on the road away from a belief in ourselves to a belief that if we sit tight these benevolent people elsewhere will bail us out of all our problems. In the process we will sacrifice both our independence and our prospects for development.

In a sense I regret it and in another sense I am glad that in my rush to get away today I left all my annotation on the Single European Act in Ballymoney and I was 25 miles from Dublin when I looked for my brief case and found none. However, sometimes one can speak from the blood as well as from the head. I have such strong feelings about the Single European Act as an Ulsterman, as an Irishman and as someone who believes in the future of Ireland that I feel I can develop what I was proposing to say and convey the impression to the Minister of what I feel and, at the same time, ask him questions on which I would like to have clarification.

It was on 3 December when the joint committee report arrived in Ballymoney giving a summary of the pros and the cons of the Single European Act. That was only a fortnight ago. I am not a professional politician, I am not a lawyer. I do not work in an academic post and I find it a very hard document to read. As a busy person, as are most people who serve in these Houses are, I would say it is an almost impossible task to grasp the content of that document and to give a responsible response to it in such a short space of time. What is even more significant is that such an important piece of legislation as we are now considering with the possibility of enacting it should have been presented with such little time for consideration in the sort of depth that is demanded when one starts to read the joint committee's report. Therefore, I was grateful to receive the explanatory guide in spite of some adverse comments that have been made about it by its detractors.

I would like to refer to one or two points which I have underlined on the first reading of this copy this morning. It states: "The new provision gives additional force to the existing provisions by providing that the Council will, as a general rule, confer such powers on the Commission". Anyone who has lived in the increasingly centralised society in Ireland, either controlled from Dublin or, as in my case, controlled by proxy from London, will be aware if they are working in the small peripheral and the weak sector of society in the course of one's daily practice just how difficult it is to survive or to sustain morale confronted as we have been increasingly in recent years by the all-powerfull tentacles of an increasingly complex bureaucratic machine. I am only referring to the bureaucratic machine of Northern Ireland. There is a bureaucratic machine also in the Republic. By giving more and more power to Europe in this age of new communications technology we are now going to run the great danger of increasing the controls and the diktats to such a degree that life becomes almost intolerable.

Let me give an example. In a misguided moment many years ago having read Ernest Schumacher's book Small is Beautiful— I must say not only for that reason — I resigned as consultant from a large centrally placed teaching hospital and I went to work in what was probably the smallest viable general hospital left in the North of Ireland in Ballymoney. The controls over everything we do, be they exerted by the Royal College of Surgeons, the general medical councils or the Department of Health are incredible with decisions almost invariably taken by people who have never worked outside of these ivory towers and seldom visited or worked in the type of community enterprise in which I am involved.

Recently we were told we should have image intensification to reduce the degree of radiation and do a more efficient job when we are fixing fractures in our theatre. Because the number of fractures we do per year did not reach the critical level, we were told there was no money available for this new machine. That is fine because I was quite prepared to use the older machine doing a slower operation, but I would venture to suggest with as good results. The next thing we hear — because there is pressure on to try to close this enterprise — is that some European document is produced to say that the machines we now use, or have been using, produce an unacceptable high rate of radiation. The implication of that is that we can no longer deal with our fractures in our community with the equipment we have, at the same time as we are prevented from purchasing other equipment.

I would bore the House if I went into the various reasons, in addition to financial reasons, which have been advanced to disallow the purchase of this other equipment. What made me feel so angry was that the person who signed that letter on behalf of the European people had never in his life been in the town of Ballymoney, let alone inside the hospital, and had no way of taking cognisance of the problem related to the pinning of hips in people over the age of 75 and that the person who received most radiation over the past 15 years is the person who is talking to Senators at present. I am still surviving I am glad to say.

The case must be answered as to how it can be shown that more and more centralisation will produce a more efficient, more satisfactory way of living and, above all else, a society where good feeling begins to rise where at present there is so much bad. When we are talking about bringing small units together into bigger units at a time when the world should be going in the opposite direction, we must be aware that there is now a technology of communication between many small units which does not lead to the old style isolation — feudal in one sense and isolationist as America was in another. We have an opportunity to do our own thing for ourselves and yet relating it to the wider world to which we belong without imposed legislation from a remote centre. I feel, and I can only say it is a feeling instinctively, that the way we are being pushed by this legislation is wrong in its method and wrong in its direction. I do not want to live in a super Parliament. I do not want to lose the degree of independence which we should have at the same time as we acknowledge our interdependence. I want to be part of an increasingly interdependent world, but I do not want to see it brought about by any more centralism.

So far as I can gather all this talk about regional funding may be fine on paper but when it comes to practice, even if it were successful, are the people in the regions determining the need and the centre responding to it, or is the centre dictating what the needs should be in the regions and handing it out? They are two quite different concepts. With regard to this regional policy that has been talked about in relation to the Single European Act, I have to ask the Minister is it a regional policy which is a reflection of a confederation of national capitals at a time where the whole concept of the nation state is undergoing reassessment, or is it a regional policy which will seek to bring about a new federation of autonomous regions? They are quite different because one is from the centre looking out and the other is from the regions looking in. I am not convinced we are talking about raising the awareness of the ethnic groups of Europe not, as I have said, to try to emphasise or to give them any sense of superiority or isolationism, but in order to build a new Europe on the uniqueness of the traditions and of the world view which these ethnic groups can bring to bear on the world in general. What are the procedures for bringing about this regional policy? Where is the funding and what does it mean that it is residual to the completion of the internal market?

Marketing has already been discussed this morning. Once you have this free market and you are starting from a point where there is power in the centre and there is weakness in the periphery, I cannot see for the life of me how the trends we have observed in recent years will not accelerate rather than diminish. You will have the people with the power and, particularly, the capital as an expression of that power coming from the centre to exploit the periphery and the people of the periphery forced perhaps to go to the centre with increasing unemployment and decreasing hope but nevertheless hoping there they may find a job or some way of life.

Let us look at it another way. If you sold a penthouse flat in New York you could probably buy a sizeable half estate in Ireland. How many acres is a square foot in New York equivalent to in Ireland? Are we prepared to look at the fact that in Ireland today there are four currencies — the punt, the pound, the square foot and the acre? How will the Single European Act prevent the people on the periphery of Europe being dependent on the people at the centre?

Is it a true interdependence or is it still a business of pyramidal politics where a decreasing number of people hold an increasing amount of power? How can it be otherwise when, to revert to what I have already said about the super-technology in communications, the possibility and potential for control and for dictation has never been greater than it is today. We should be concerned to decentralise quantums of power down not only to the ethnic regions but right down to the communities in the ethnic regions. Once you say that, you are then challenging the vested interest of the nation State itself because you could be suggesting that for Ireland to begin to regain a belief in herself and in her people and to develop is to recognise we have different regions and to give back to the regions, and from the regions to the communities, effective quantums of economic power, as well as new political structures which will allow people to express themselves in a truly democratic framework both in institutions in which they work and in the community in which they live. To what extent have we confidence that the European philosophy behind the politics is a philosophy that seeks to give back power and allows people to take it back so that life begins to become more meaningful to them? That question must be answered.

Under the heading "foreign policy" the explanatory guide says: "The undertakings contained in Title III are notable in their formulations in that they bind the partner only, for example, "to endeavour", "to take full account of", "to give due consideration to the desirability of", "as far as possible, refrain from". The way this is written, it would seem it is being advocated that there are certain advantages to this vagueness, presumably because that gives us a "get out" clause but once you are part of the club it takes a great deal of courage to challenge the mores of the club. Once you are part of the club, it takes a great deal of courage to say "No", and particularly when you are a small part of it. I can see Ireland being increasingly brought into a web which is controlled from outside Ireland. Does the Minister really believe that this vagueness of phraseology will provide the protection which we are told it will? It reminds me a bit of the schoolboy who is told by the headmaster that he has a right to complain or of the army officer who goes round at summer camp and asks: "What are your complaints today"? No one dared say anything because they were encircled by the club they belonged to. It takes much more courage to fire a question at your own group than it does to fire a bullet into someone else's group.

Ireland is going into this because she feels there is no alternative. That is a tragedy. I can say that with a free conscience because when we originally went into the EC I tried to develop an argument against it. After the result I thought the tragedy was not that the people had expressed the democratic right to go in but that so many of them did, which suggested to me that they felt in spite of the resources we have, in spite of the talents we have and perhaps because of the political structures we have, we would not be able to survive unless we joined the EC. This is a further extension. Living in a small town in this island which has recently become very economically and socially deprived, we have as much to fear from decisions made in County Hall, Ballymena, as Ballymena has to fear from the Civil Service decisions made in Belfast in Dundonald House, as Belfast has to fear from London or as London has to fear from Brussels. I can assure the House I am not crawling down the road to Ballymena, let alone starting on the long road to Brussels.

I come to the question of sovereignty. There can be no gainsaying that over the last 100 years there has been considerable diminution in the concept of sovereignty. International legislation and, more recently supranational legislation, has meant that countries have had to adhere to codes often to their benefit which are imposed on them because, by treaty or by some other means, they have agreed to comply to certain supranational law. We could say that in a nuclear age absolute sovereignty is absolute nonsense. Again, it comes back to this fine balance between what we hold, to be able to have some dignity for ourselves, for our group, for our region, for our nation, and how we wish to relate positively with the rest of the community or the world to which we belong.

It is said the Single European Act will not involve any diminution in Ireland's sovereignty. I would like the Minister to reply to that. It may be a good thing that it does or it may be a bad thing, but I cannot believe that the Single European Act will not involve any diminution in Ireland's sovereignty. It flies in the face of reason. Whether it is Mrs. Thatcher who is talking, whether it is the Taoiseach who is talking or whether it is Mr. Haughey who is talking, absolute sovereignty is absolute nonsense in a nuclear age but it is because we are in a nuclear age that Ireland should be determined to hold on to what it has, its unique position among the nations of the world. That unique position is going to be diminished by this progress.

As the people of a small nation we are uniquely placed, not only in our relationship with Europeans but also in our relationship with North America, particularly the United States, with Canada. This applies also to the Third World through the Irish missionaries who have played such an important role in providing development in Third World counties and who are not associated with the exploitation that went on in the hey-day of empire or more recently in the sacred name of capitalism. What we can do is have a country, creating a network of non-aligned peace-making nations in the world, expousing a policy of positive neutrality at a time when the world needs people who are peace-makers to stand up and be counted.

If we participate in the Single European Act, so far as I can see, we will still be allowed to say that we are neutral, but it will be very difficult for us to confront our partners, a point which Senator Ryan has already made, when we feel that they are utterly wrong. As a small nation in a big act, what power will we have to influence them? Whereas as a nation with a totally independent foreign policy which recognises the links we have throughout the rest of the world, the respect we have and the potential we could have, if only we got right our own internal political structures, we could begin to believe in ourselves. I do go some way with the Sinn Féin philosophy but it is not broad enough. It is not ourselves alone; it is ourselves with others to whom we relate positively.

There was some chat about the new world syndrome. The new world syndrome is very much tied up with the provisions of the post-industrial high technology era into which we have suddenly been launched and it is a quite different world that we face. We have heard already about the difficulties of employment and, unless we grapple with the politics and philosophy of this new world in relation to the matter of employment and work, no matter what we do we are doomed. In a world of 6,000 million going on 8,000 million people, if all those people with the aid of super technology were to be given five days reasonable work in the week it is inevitable that we would render the planet barren in next to no time.

If we are to espouse to a philosophy which says that the number of women and men hours in employment must be reduced in relation to production because of the new machinery, we have to ask what do we do with those hours in the community. It is with that area of life and living that I would be chiefly concerned. How does the person who is living in his own community, let alone the European Community, find a platform with sufficient power to participate in the decision-making process in his community? What are we doing about that in our over-centralised society? What are we doing about making a distinction between creative work and jobs in someone else's employment?

If we are not prepared to make that distinction at a time when we say there must be less employment in the production line sector because of high technology and the exploitation of the natural world, are we prepared to share not just the jobs—we have heard a lot about job sharing — but share the profits and the products? What type of framework will Europe provide in which people can live and determine what they need and cease to have this consumerism we have developed? Consumerism is mentioned at some length. What people should have is determined for them. These are very serious matters which should be concerning the European Community at this time in particular because it is so highly developed, so intellectually developed and has had such an increase in educational opportunity in the past three or four decades.

As a result of this Act can Europe get its act together in such a huge area with so many people so that ordinary people will have a chance of self-expression, a chance to use their talents and a fair share of all our resources. We must not only use the resources we have got but conserve them for those who come after us. The danger I see is that everything will respond to the dictates of capital and capital is on the whole what takes over. If there is any conflict between the interest of the community and the interest of capital, community interest quickly flies out through the window and capital either takes the people with it or comes in to exploit them.

I have dealt in part with the question of neutrality. I tried to allude to what the difficulties will be in the future in relation to employment and work and the need for social participation by the people. I asked how this is consistent with a global role for Ireland. I also asked if we have really got to the point where the Irish people feel there is no alternative. After all, we have in this country as yet a not completely spoiled environment. We are surrounded by the sea. We have a tourist industry. We have a people who on the whole do not have extraordinary expectations of standards of living but would like to see coming back to their lives a new quality of living. I do not think that will happen until we restructure ourselves politically, but it will take time to do that. If we go ram-stam into a more integrated Europe, unless the Minister can answer the question I asked about the distinction between the confederation of national capitalists versus the federation of autonomous regions, the possibility of finding our own salvation, and out of that salvation relating positively to the nations of the world, whether they are European or not, is pretty dim indeed.

Then there is the question of nuclearism. It seems to me that, until such time as we have castiron guarantees, there is a great danger that we will be sucked up into a nuclear club. It would be out-regeous for a country that believes in neutrality to run the risk of being involved with other countries in situations where it might take an act of Herculean courage to distance ourselves from defence policies or even aggressive policies involving nuclear activity. Certainly those few out of my tradition in Ireland who have worked and talked about a new Ireland in the North of Ireland would feel that we have been wasting our time and we should have nothing to do with it if Ireland is to move closer to the nuclear brotherhood, or if Ireland thinks that the only answer to its power requirements is nuclearism before it has tried to utilise what we have got in a much more effective manner and in a much more pro-conservationist manner than at present. I do not believe that these things will be decided for the better or brought about for the better by enactments in the Oireachtas any more than in Brussels until we get back to community level and give people a sense of pride in their community, a sense of belonging, a sense of place and the political structures that allow them to do effective things where they live, to be more aware, to be more responsible to be more accountable. The move towards more centralism seems to fly in the opposite direction.

When we are thinking of the wider world, could we not make more strenuous efforts to contact the Irish diaspora throughout the world? Could we not try to influence people who would listen to us, Irish people who have a deep affinity with the mother country even if many of them have great feelings of resentment because they had to leave their country. Could we not use our influence with them on matters in which we believe — anti-nuclear, what is pro-life in the broadest sense.

Two nights ago I spoke to a distinguished surgeon from Central Africa who spent his life in Zambia; he is doing a locum in the local hospital at present. He and his wife were expressing their deepest and most bitter disappointment at the way in which Central Africa seemed to be going. Once they were full of hope for it, they saw a new country, a new nation, with new hope and new possibilities and now it seems to be falling apart, not only Zambia, but many of the countries in the region. I asked him if the white South African could be sufficiently humble or could cope with the guilt he has suppressed and reach out to the black people. Could he see himself as different but also as a part of southern Africa surrounding him? Surely that would help to stabilise the region and allow Zambia and other nations like Zambia to begin to build anew. If there could be a change of attitude by the most powerful member — and humility is involved in that — would it not be possible to see a new future for the southern half of Africa? The surgeon said, "Yes, that is the crux of the matter."

I do not think Ireland will move forward — certainly not through espousing the Single European Act — unless we can help the people of my tradition who once had privilege to have a much more humble expectation in relation to their fellow-Irishmen. People of other Irish traditions must look at us and ask how can they help them because at present they are caught in a cul-de-sac. The most important factor in Irish political and social life is the one which many people in the South choose to ignore if they can and that is the unresolved conflict in the North of Ireland between two traditions and the desperate paucity of understanding of what is involved in making a leap into the future with great generosity. As well as the North the Republic must be prepared also to dismantle its State if we are to create a new Irish nation based on the uniqueness of the different traditions and interacting with each other. Ireland will then be in a position to play a positive role in the development of thinking in the archipelago, in the development of exchange with western Europe and in developing awareness of the needs throughout the less fortunate Third World area of the world.

Looking down a microscope the three things that strike you when you look at cellular pattern, all different but all part of a whole, are variety, closeness and exchange. In place of these in our society today we have uniformity instead of variety, we have remoteness instead of closeness and we have control instead of exchange. There is a sound principle that the more complex and more diverse the ecosystem the more stable it is. The built-in self regulating mechanisms that are needed in a natural world are also needed in the social and political world. The more emphasis there is on variety, the healthier and the stronger will be the corporate hold.

I have asked a number of questions and I look forward to the Minister's response. As an Ulsterman and an Irishman I shall not be voting for the Single European Act unless the Minister can convince me during the course of his summing up.

I shall be voting in favour of this Act for several reasons if there is a vote this evening. I do not think they had a vote in the Dáil but I gather there might be one here. In some ways we have very little option but to vote for this Act because the consequences of not voting for it would be horrific. Because we are under such pressure from the European Community and from outside to vote for it, it does not mean in any way that it is a bad Act. It is an Act which has to be looked at as a whole, and as a complete Act, and not in sections.

If one looks at the Act it is quite an achievement on the part of all countries of the EC to have got together and to have produced an Act of this sort. The countries involved have enormously diverse interests, with great differences of trade and economies. The European Community may have faltered, hesitated and disappointed many people who had a certain vision of it many years ago but this is a tangible, if only moderate, result of that vision. The EC is going forward slowly, more slowly than many of those original visionaries would have hoped, but this is a tangible move forward. This does not mean that we are going to achieve the internal market, by 1992 as is hoped. What it does mean is that there is still a genuine energy, vision and belief in the EC among those members and a desire to make great progress. That is symbolised by this Act.

What this Act does do is to remedy that great fault which exists in the EC and in the relationship between the people of the countries comprising the Community. The Single European Act does not bring the populations of those countries closer to the EC itself and closer to identification with the EC.

There is an enormous public relations identity problem. I do not think the European Community means much to the man in the street. I do not think the man in the street has a clue what the Single European Act is about, except that he knows it probably has to go through. I do not believe he thinks it has any relevance to him and, if it does have any relevance to him, that there is anything he can do about it. This fault lies squarely with the member countries and the EC itself. The image people have of the EC is, I would guess, an image of a boring, large, clumsy, bureaucratic Community. People see it as a great monolith out there in Brussels or in Strasbourg, which has to be there for some reason which they do not understand, but which does not actually affect their daily life in a way they can actually influence it themselves. That is important. The EC, while it seems relevant in some ways, is seen as too large for people to relate to.

The European Parliament similarly is seen as too distant. One only has to look at the European elections which take place here to see that they are fought, not on European issues as they should ideally be, but mostly on local issues. It is mostly a mid-term battle between the two competing major parties. The European elections are usually used as a fairly innocuous means of protest against the Government in power. People have used the European elections as a way of telling the Government on the last two occasions that they did not like what was going on and they had better pull their socks up. That is a fault of the EC. If the European Parliament elections are not fought on European grounds, then European issues are not seen as relevant to people on the ground.

The other problem which the Single European Act does not improve in terms of image is the image of parliamentarians of the EC being extremely rich, well off, high living and too well paid members of society. They may or may not be well paid. They may or may not be overpaid, but it is absolutely undeniable that the image of junketeering, the image of highly paid European parliamentarians who are irrelevant, is abroad here in Ireland. That image has not been corrected. That is a public perception which ought to be corrected or the Members of the European Parliament ought to be more accountable.

That is a great fault, unfortunately, with Members of the European Parliament. Their accountability to the respective parties here and to the people of this country is very slim and very intangible. They have to stand for election every few years, but they do not from time to time have to account for what they are doing, to their electorate or to those who nominated them. So to a certain extent they have a blank cheque. To a certain extent they do not come back and explain their speeches or what they are doing to those who put them in. They do not have the same pressures on them as Members of the Dáil or Members of the Seanad have here. Those pressures are, I think, a good thing. The fact that those pressures are not exerted means that the European Parliament is seen as more distant.

The other problem which should still be tackled and has not been tackled finally in this country is the issue of the dual mandate. I have been criticised for raising the issue of the dual mandate in this House before and not on the EC committee of which I am a member. The issue of the dual mandate has been going on for a long time. I make no apology for raising it here again. It has been going on for so long that it is absolutely ridiculous that is has not been solved. We should have a declaration from the Government, and expecially from the Fine Gael Party, about their intention in the next election. I hope that no Members of the present European Parliament will be standing for the Dáil in this election and subsequently standing for re-election to the European Parliament. The dual mandate, while it might have been excusable initially in a transition period, is now an abuse of both Parliaments and makes it impossible for Members to do both jobs properly.

The most controversial issue in the Single European Act is the removal of the veto. It would be absurd if the veto were to continue to be exercised in the way it has been exercised before. The veto was the great obstruction to the progress on certain issues. While countries have to protect their vital interests, the definition of their vital interests changes from time to time. The definition of their vital interests has been open to a certain amount of abuse by the countries involved.

I welcome the qualified majority which is being introduced in substitution for the veto. We cannot have a system whereby people have a right to veto on such a wide basis, if we are to progress into a more united Europe. As the Taoiseach pointed out in his speech in the Dáil last week, there are certain issues where the veto can still be exercised. There are certain issues where uniformity would not suit this country and where this country is protected. The issue of VAT is one. We would all like to see lower VAT and harmonisation of VAT. It would suit the business community and the country as a whole to take the pressure off VAT. The issue of VAT will still need unanimity. It would be impossible for us at the moment in practical terms to harmonise value-added tax with the European Community. The harmonisation of VAT, as the Taoiseach said in the Dáil, would cost the country £600 to £700 million per annum. That is an amount of revenue which we just cannot afford to lose. It is totally unreal. We are in bad enough problems at the moment with raising revenue. To lose £650 million in revenue is completely inconceivable and impossible for us. It is an example of where we will continue to be able to protect our vital interests. In other areas, we will not be able to exercise the veto. The lifting of trade barriers will be of great benefit to a small country like this which depends enormously on external trade, particularly in the areas of trade and technology.

I should like in passing to say one or two words about the effect of the EC and our membership of the EC on the issue of Northern Ireland. The Single European Act will not have any very direct effect. One of the greatest disappointments to me of the EC and the dozen years or so that we have been a member of it now, is that at the time we entered it was predicted that the differences between the two parts of Ireland would diminish as a result of membership of the EC. That was a very plausable argument at the time. It appeared that if we were all to be members of one Community, not only the trade barriers but the political barriers would also break down. The European Community was, after all, originally meant to lead to political unity. This has not been the case.

Despite the external influences which the EC has subjected us to and which have been of great benefit to the people in the Republic of Ireland, not only in terms of trade and financial advances but also in terms of exposure to ideas, technology and people from outside, as well as political influences, movements and thought from outside, amazingly it does not seem to have had any great effect on the people of Northern Ireland or on the relationship between North and South.

The differences which we had hoped would be lessened by our entry into the EC, that understanding which we had hoped would build up as a result of our entry into the EC and as a result of us all being members of one Community, has not built up. One Member of the European Parliament in particular who has been elected consistently for Northern Ireland to the EC — I refer to Mr. Paisley — apparently has learned nothing from his membership of the EC. His attitude has not been affected by outside influences. He has used the Parliament, unfortunately and disgracefully as he did last week, to feather his own political nest and to make a public, but highly irrelevant exhibition, against the British Prime Minister. That is wrong. It is a great disappointment in the EC. We see it time and time again in that the attitudes of those who are sectarian in Northern Ireland have not been broken down by the EC at all. It is a disappointment to me because I believed that it would have an effect. If anything hardline attitudes have increased. For some reason the people of Northern Ireland have managed to remain immune from these outside influences which ought to have helped in breaking down the barriers. We should probably blame that partially on those who represent Northern Ireland in the European Parliament.

Finally, I should like to say a few words about neutrality. Neutrality has been raised to a large extent as a red herring by the Opposition in this debate. I see nothing in this Act which endangers our neutrality. I hear of nothing convincing in this Act which endangers our neutrality. I have heard statements from Opposition members about this. I do not believe for one moment they are sincere about it. I believe they have raised it as a camouflage in order to make political capital out of it. The whole attitude of the Opposition to this Act has been fairly disgraceful in that they looked as though at one stage they would be prepared to oppose the Act, lock, stock and barrel, if there was a chance of bringing the Government down or embarrassing the Government on it. This Act is too important for that sort of thing. In the end they found they would be exposed if they did that so they did not do it.

There is a very good case for taking a long, hard look at our neutrality, at the issue of neutrality and whether we are really neutral or want to be really neutral. I do not believe this Act in any way affects our neutrality. I believe that because of the irresponsible public statements of some members of the Opposition that many members of the public are slightly alarmed about it as a result. Members of the public may feel that there is something in this Act which affects our neutrality. There certainly is not. If we move further, and in a more concrete way in many years to come, towards a united Europe in a political, military and security sense it may then be that we will have to sacrifice some of our neutrality, if we wish to. It does not arise at this time and it is wrong for an issue such as this to be expoloited in that way.

I believe that possibly statements from Opposition members and from the Irish Sovereignty Movement provoked the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, to float the idea of holding a referendum on our neutrality and enshrining it in the Constitution. That would be very wrong indeed. We have got too much in our Constitution already. We have got too many things in our Constitution which we cannot remove when we want to remove them. It would be very wrong for any Government here or for any all-party committee to try to implement a suggestion of this sort. If we put our neutrality into our Constitution we will be creating another problem for ourselves which in years to come will provoke a highly divisive debate.

Although it is a sacred cow at the moment neutrality is something which we ought to continually question. We ought to ask whether it benefits us or whether it is hypocritical. We ought to ask why there is so much all-party agreement about us being neutral. In the past it was right. Neutrality in the Second World War was a brave and a wise decision. It was very nearly violated on several occasions. We should look at it but we should not confuse it with independence or with nationalism, as we tend to do. There is a great danger that the neutrality issue is confused with the nationalist issue. We believe that in order to have an independent identity we have to maintain our neutrality. We should look at neutrality and ask why do we need to be neutral when all the other members of the EC do not feel that need. It may be that we are a younger country and that we have a special identity. It is only honest to say that we have a western way of life, that we live in a capitalist system and that the countries that are closest to us in terms of economic, tribal and travelling ties are America and Britain. We are not, ideologically, very attuned to the Communist world.

Neutrality should be looked at but it should not be raised as a red herring, as it has been in this debate. I shall be voting for the Single European Act. It is an Act which recognises the realities of Europe, without making enormous progress. It is an achievement that so many countries can achieve consensus on an Act like this when their interests lie so wide apart.

A great deal has been stated on this very important subject of the Single European Act. I want to add some comments to what has been said already and to associate myself with some others.

First, we should get it clearly into our minds that the Single European Act has not come about suddenly. It is something that has evolved after a very intense and in depth discussion over a three year period. It involved negotiations and an in depth study of the entire scene. It is, of course, a major contribution to further European integration. It is the most significant development in the European Economic Community since Ireland's accession in 1973. For that reason, I believe that here in the Seanad today all persons should identify that fact and see this as a move forward and something that is deserving of our full support.

The provisions of the Single European Act are the clear result of an intergovernmental conference of EC member states established by the Milan European Council in July 1985. The object of that conference was to examine how best to relaunch the Community, arrest the economic stagnation and establish clear political objectives for the realisation of closer European unity. It was recognised clearly at that stage that reforms were necessary in order to make the Community better able to maintain and enhance its economic position in an extremely competitive world and on orientated towards high technology.

There were two particularly strong factors that influenced that course of thought that time. First Europe — the EC — was perceived to have fallen significantly behind its major world competitors, the United States and Japan, in terms of economic growth, scientific research and development of job creation. Secondly, it was perceived quite clearly that the whole decision-making process and machinery associated with it was defective and constituted a major impediment to the development and expansion of new and effective Community policies essential if Europe was to catch up with the United States and Japan.

The point I am making is that this whole matter surrounding the introduction of the Single European Act did not come about suddenly. It was not as if somebody suddenly thought about it. It was something that arose out of a long period of thought. In recent years, even casual observers would note that the European scene required fundamental and significant advances. In 1983 the Stuttgart European Council adopted a formal declaration on European union which was to some extent a signal that the need to relaunch the Community was on the way. One sentence from that declaration stated:

European Union is being achieved by deepening and broadening the scope of European activities, so that they inherently cover a growing proportion of member states' mutual relations and of their external relations.

The Single European Act, which we are debating today, is further down the line than that. European union, of course, can only be achieved by all the member states moving forward together. It is the pace at which we move that occasionally raises differences of opinion both within and between member states. The pace of action does from time to time create a certain amount of misunderstanding or disagreement or a combination of both.

The European Parliament sought to quicken the pace in its draft treaty establishing the European union which was adopted in February 1984. That draft treaty was fully considered and analysed in an excellent report, No. 14, published by the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. The Dooge report was published in March 1985 and provided the basis on which the Intergovernmental Conference was convened. The decision taken by the Milan European Council in June, at which Ireland voted in favour of an intergovernmental conference, was a clear indication that a majority of member states was determined to push ahead.

Many historic matters and so on have been referred to already. I would like to summarise the contents of the Single European Act under the following headings: what it aspires to do; and how we see the position in the different categories. The Act has as its objective the following: increased use of voting by qualified majority in the Council of Ministers. That is not to say the power of veto is being removed. It is still being retained, but there will be an increased use of voting in the Council of Ministers. It is very important that we also have the completion of the internal market with a target date of 1992. Furthermore we have the incorporation in the EC treaty for the first time of a new chapter on economic and social cohesion. We also have the objective of strengthening the role of the European Parliament in the Community's decision-making process and the strengthening of the management and implementing powers of the Commission. In this regard it should be remembered that the management powers of the Commission have been changed. There are no powers given to the Commission other than powers of management. There is a distinct difference between actual powers which people confuse with powers of management.

A clear objective is the incorporation for the first time of provisions for the development of research and technology and also the development of a Community policy on the protection of the environment. In addition, there is an aspiration to have a positive improvement in the working environment and provisions to improve the functioning of the European Court of Justice. Finally we have the incorporation of the provision on European political co-operation. I have referred to a number of very important objectives.

We in Ireland must be primarily concerned about the implications for us of these, or any other objectives, or any other sort of amendments to the Act. We are one of the smaller countries on the periphery of the mainland of Europe. We are probably one of the least developed member states. Ireland has traditionally supported greater European integration provided the interests of the weaker countries are not ignored by the richer members and that at all times there is a genuine balance and fairness in the operation of Community policies. This point has been referred to by a number of Senators and I, too, would like to identify my remarks very clearly with remarks made by Senator Robb and others that we must ensure that, as a weak link in this big chain, we are not glossed over. Being on the periphery of the European scene, geographically and economically and in other respects, we are more vulnerable and less able to combat the challenges economically and otherwise that will face us from time to time. This is something we should never lose sight of.

I have stated many times here in this House that, as a small island located away from the mainland of Europe, we are entitled to special preferential treatment. I have debated that point consistently in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy and I believe the same set of arguments apply in other spheres of activity. We must never depart from that line.

In this connection I would like to compliment the Minister for Agriculture for getting special treatment yesterday to the tune of £22 million for the beef farmers of Ireland. It was a very significant achievement. At the same time he succeeded in arriving at an agreement in the dairying side which, while not terribly acceptable to many, is the best that could be got. We must recognise the general climate that exists at the European level at present. While I say quite categorically and without qualification that we need this very special treatment as a nation, at the same time I believe Mr. Deasy's achievements in the Council of Ministers in getting the special measures on beef and in getting a package on dairying were quite definite advances. I do not think it is fully recognised that we have a very difficult task at European level in convincing our European partners that we require special treatment.

Our strategic position from the point of view of location is of vital interest to our partners in Europe. While we are only a small island with a population of between 3 million or 4 million persons, I believe we must make the best use of our location to ensure that we get the best deal at all times. I reiterate the point I made in this House before, that there is no way we can compete on equal terms with the Dutch, Danes, French or German farmers. I submit the same situation obtains in many other spheres of activity in Ireland as well.

I referred to the completion of the internal market. This is to our advantage. It is an aspiration we must be very enthusiastic about. It will help us in the longer term because the fragmentation of the European market has been one of the main obstacles to economic growth in Europe in recent times. A common market has been created in name but not, I would submit, in reality. Therefore, we must throw our weight behind the completion of the internal market. There are certain benefits to Irish industry which are very encouraging. From our point of view the implications for industry, including the financial services sector, are very clear. The access to a market of 320 million people, is quite significant and should help us very much. That access will be there without the present obstacles and it should provide us with an opportunity to improve our trade quite significantly. All the indications are at present that business and industry, in the majority of member states, wish to proceed fairly rapidly with the adoption of the necessary legislation. There is little doubt that they will have the support of the Commission which will pursue, with strong zeal and fervour, the implementation of its detailed timetable.

If the Irish economy is to grow at a rate of 2 per cent to 3 per cent per annum, as is suggested, the development of the internal market must play a very central role in encouraging that growth. The completion of the internal market could have important implications for three aspects of Irish economic development; investment, employment and market diversification. All these areas are of extreme importance.

In the area of investment, there are over 850 foreign-owned companies in Ireland, employing approximately 80,000 people directly and giving employment to a further 80,000 people in the services sector. Over 400 of these firms have parent companies located in other Community member states. There is, therefore, considerable scope for attracting new investment in a more economically integrated Europe from within the Community as well as from third countries. In particular, the advantages of establishing closer working relationships and joint ventures with other companies in production, research and marketing activities must be impressed on Irish manufacturers. With the significant European presence here, a greater opening up of the market between Europe and ourselves in the industrial sphere has to be and will be a very great help.

Unfortunately, this has been stated many times in this House, unemployment remains a great scourge at present, not only in Ireland but right through the European scene. It has been the scourge of the seventies and the eighties. In many instances the European Community has been blamed as one of the factors bringing about unemployment. I submit that that allegation is unjustified. The fact that the Community has failed to come up with a co-ordinated set of proposals which would attempt to tackle the problem has undoubtedly contributed to the impression that the Community has done little. Nevertheless, it is possible, through a combination of community policies and co-ordinated efforts at national level, to operate in favour of employment creation. In a recent major address Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, called for a co-operative growth strategy which, by adding 1 per cent to the Community growth rate, could reduce unemployment by 30 per cent to 40 per cent over the next five years or so. An integral part of that strategy will be the increased economic activity which should result from the liberalisation of the inter-Community trade, in other words a greater freedom and greater movement generally within the EC member states.

Market diversification, to which I have already referred, is extremely important. In 1960, 75 per cent of Irish exports went to the United Kingdom and only 6 per cent went to the EC. By 1973, at the time or our joining the European Community, the United Kingdom accounted for 56 per cent of Irish exports and the Community accounted for 12 per cent. It is now very probable that by the end of this decade Irish exports to continental EC countries will be two to three times greater than our exports to the United Kingdom. This is very significant and is something of which we, as a member of the EC, are very conscious. That we will become less reliant on the United Kingdom market is a development that had a very big influence on thinking generally.

The general growth of the Irish economy depends more now than ever before on our capacity to export because, if we are to expand at all, with a very limited home market the products of our expanded efforts must be exported. Proportionately Ireland is the third largest exporter in the EC after Belgium and the Netherlands. Exports are now equivalent to about two-thirds of the national output and are expected to account for 2 per cent by the end of next year.

It is important that we look at these different areas and take account of the necessity to reduce or eliminate disparties that currently exist. The completion of the internal market will lead to much stiffer competition between the various member states as the obstacles presently in place begin to fall. For that reason the inclusion of a new chapter in the treaty dealing with economic and social cohesion of the Community — in other words the need to reduce disparity between the various regions — was a necessary corollary to the completion of the internal market.

Built into the entire scene we have the whole effort to have closer economic and social cohesion. This is an extremely important factor and is something that will bring about very profitable results. This section of the Act has been strongly criticised because it does not include a commitment to increase regional fund resources and fails to make provision for adequate compensation to Ireland should there be any damaging economic consequences for us resulting from the completion of the internal market. It would not be possible in a legal text of this kind, in extension of the treaties themselves to include references to any individual country. Nor would it be possible to include amounts of money since these will inevitably change over time. However, careful study of this section of the Act points to a number of advantages from Ireland's point of view. In the first instance, the removal of the disparities recognised would help us quite significantly in a number of areas which I do not intend to go into at length.

The decision-making machinery is quite important because there is a slow process which has been engaged in from time to time and something which can streamline that is desirable. The 300 pieces of legislation necessary to complete the internal market require concerted moves towards much greater use of qualified majority voting. Thus the provision whereby most of the decisions concerning the completion of the internal market will be taken by qualified majority vote is to be welcomed. Specific articles of the treaty which are amended are referred to.

We need to be very clear that qualified majority voting is not an innovation in the Community's decision-making machinery. Some people think it is the first time it was ever used. The Treaty of Rome makes provision for it in many areas and decisions have frequently been taken by recourse to it. For example, the request to devalue Ireland's green currency in line with the devaluation of the Irish pound within the EMS was taken by a qualified majority vote. The United Kingdom and France abstained because they wished to secure similar adjustments for their own currency but realised this would be opposed by the Commission. They did not, however, wish to back the Irish green rate adjustment. The moral of this story simply is that had unanimity been required Ireland would not have received the adjustment it was seeking and would have been forced to accept a smaller one. In other words, we had this majority voting before. It is nothing dramatic or new.

The Single European Act is not this vast step forward towards European union which many people had hoped for in the first instance and which many people had feared also. Nevertheless, it represents a modest but important advance and should allow the process of European integration to develop further. The decision to move towards the achievement of a single internal market by 1992 will present many new opportunities for Irish industry. The economic and social cohesion of the Community is reinforced by the Act and provides for the formulation of a genuine regional policy capable of tackling this serious economic and infrastructural underdevelopment of regions of the Community such as Ireland. The expansion of the European economy must be carried out in such a way that it can make a major contribution to the creation of jobs. Europe's credibility will depend on its response to the legitimate concern young people feel about their future to the concerns of ailing regions hit by the disappearance of traditional industries and to the need to provide rural areas with new forms of development.

European union is still, as I said at the outset, a distance away. For the foreseeable future the task will be to complete economic union, that is, monetary union, financial harmonisation and cohesion. If these things are achieved the European Community will provide greater prosperity for all its citizens and will be even closer to what its founders originally envisaged it would be.

Before I conclude I want to stress that, while the Single European Act is an advance which I believe merits the support of everybody in this House, we must not as a country and a Government lose sight of the very real need that exists in order to make life assured economically and otherwise for people in this island in the years ahead. For example, the main area where we saw advantages in joining the EC was in the agricultural sector. Now we find, 12 years after joining, that there are major and definite brakes being put on agricultural development. While it is historical now it is no harm to remind ourselves that when we joined the EC after a referendum, when 80 per cent of the Irish people voted to join, we did so in the belief that agriculture had unlimited potential but we knew at the same time that our industrial sector would be faced with major problems from a competitive point of view. Unfortunately ten years later we found that many of our industries, due to the competition that confronted them, had gone out of business while agriculture was being stifled and brakes were positively and clearly put on.

I believe that our position still remains a very special one. We must continue to strive for special measures. We have succeeded in the past in this area. I made reference in my earlier remarks to examples of that. We must strive for special measures for ourselves as a nation and, at the same time, we must become good Europeans. If we are part of the European scene, it is unthinkable that anybody should be opposed to the Single European Act which is only a slight step forward but one that is to our advantage. By the end of this week we hope all the countries in the European Economic Community through their national Parliaments will have ratified this legislation.

Anybody who suggests we should distance ourselves from the Single European Act is stating that we should become nothing more than associate members of the EC. We should not ever forget — this is a very salient point — that last year we were nett beneficiaries to the tune of £900 million from the fact that we were a member of the EC. Over the past number of years while the figure has varied we have benefited to the tune of £4.5 billion. We must be realistic. While there are certain problems economic and otherwise that the EC has caused us, essentially we have been benefiting very substantially. Even though there are hiccups in the system for our agriculture industry, at the same time we are clearly beneficiaries from being a member of the EC.

The Single European Act deserves the unanimous support of this House which I hope it will receive. We must move on and develop in a greater way the European dimension and ensure that we are fully taken care of as a nation and that our special needs are taken into account in the compilation of various policies. The Government have done an extremely good job in bringing the measure to the degree of finality it has achieved and we hope later today this House will pass this legislation. We must at all times be conscious of the fact that we are a very small island, a very underdeveloped island, a nation remote from the market place and that we need that special measure of treatment in order to keep our economy in good shape.

It is with a considerable amount of reluctance that I am forced, by the overwhelming logic of the arguments, to support another measure related to the European Economic Community. I am not enthusiastic about the European Economic Community, nor have I ever been. I am in favour of the European Economic Community when it is in Ireland's interest to be in favour of it. If it is ever against Ireland's interest I will be against it. I do not believe in the united states of Europe. I have no loyalty to any concept of a united states of Europe and if it is in Ireland's interest to pull out of Europe that will be my policy.

I believed, at the time of the referendum to enter the European Economic Community, that it was in Ireland's interests to go in and, therefore, I supported it. I think it is in Ireland's interest to process this extraordinary Bill which is before us and, because it is in Ireland's interest and in spite of the reservations which I will express later on, I will support the Bill. However, I do so without any enthusiasm. There is no commitment on the mainland of Europe to the principle of convergence. There is no way in which they are committed to looking after the outposts of Europe to the same extent as any country would look after its least favoured areas. I am not suggesting that we wish or desire the economic prosperity of the Federal German Republic to be shared with Ireland on an equal basis. I do not want that. I am quite happy to live in Ireland with a lower standard of living rather than to live on the mainland of Europe. All I ask of Europe before I give any allegiance to the united states of Europe is that they would treat areas outside the golden triangle, not to the extent of £900 million or any other number of million pounds but in the same way as they would treat any less favoured region in their own country. I do not think they are doing that: I do not think they have the slightest intention of doing so. We must fight, kick, bully and cajole our way to get everything we can out of Europe because they will never give us anything unless we drag it from them like a dentist extracting teeth from a reluctant jaw.

I do not believe that the united states of Europe concept which is being furthered by some of the proposals in the Single European Act is in Ireland's interest but I think the development of the Community along these lines remains in our interest, but not as decisively as it remained in the past. I do not apologise to the European Community for the £900 million which they say we got from them last year because that is the price that they must pay us for the tremendous sacrifices which this economy has made as a result of our being in Europe. We made our sacrifices and we are entitled to be paid in respect of them. I do not thank the European Economic Community for so organising its affairs that it subsidises intensive farming on the mainland of Europe and does it in such a way that it puts our farmers under pressure. I do not thank them for that. We must at all times look out for what is in our interests and we must not pretend to be doing anything else. I suppose it is necessary to have a few wide-eyed idealists imbued with the European ideal as a kind of flagstaff or flagship around the lecture halls of mainland of Europe to fool the other people with regard to what we really think. We should think of the European Community in precisely the same way as the French think about it. As long as it is useful to France they will run along with it and in so far as it is no use to France they will obstruct it in every way they can.

One of the reasons it is in our interests to be a member of the Community is that we are such a small country. That is the reality. It is true that a considerable section of our sovereignty has been eroded by joining the European Community. That does not worry me at all because I think the sovereignty of small nations or the sovereignty of any nation, other than the very biggest of nations, at this stage is a fairly theoretical sort of doctrine. Any small nation now has only a limited degree of sovereignty. That is the reality because we live in a world where there is an exchange of trade, personnel and relationships between countries large and small which imposes on smaller countries disciplines which, though they may not be part of their statute law, are as binding on those small countries as if they were statutes. Therefore, we must recognise that as a small country we have limited sovereignty and we have to use that sovereignty to the best advantage we can. They are just general words I would like to say by way of preamble.

This is a most extraordinary piece of legislation because really I do not know if there is anyone in the House, with the possible exception of Senator Dooge, who understands it. It looks a most innocuous piece of legislation which, if you read it, you would say: "what is all this fuss about"? Of course the Minister, recognising as he does that we are people of limited intelligence and that the general population from which we are drawn are also people of limited intelligence, decided that it was in the public interest to publish what is called an explanatory guide. I do not know whether anyone has read the explanatory guide but if you do read the explanatory guide I can assure you, you will end up considerably more confused than if you had never started that exercise.

It is a most difficult document and it is produced in a most difficult way. For instance there is the use of the word "article" which is very foreign to our way. The word "article" is used both with reference to the Single European Act and with reference to the original Community Treaty in such a way that there is no indication, except on the most careful reading, whether the article being referred to comes from the Single European Act or from the original Community Treaty. I can only speak for myself and I found it an extremely difficult and tedious document to understand and it was only with the help and advice of a number of people, including the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Senator Dooge, that I began to at least comprehend the enormity of my ignorance from which I could examine the areas of the Act which interested me in particular.

The aspect of the Act to which I would like to refer is the question of whether it requires a constitutional amendment and that is the area to which I would like to refer. I am not satisfied with the Minister's explanation on Second Stage which, by and large, is a reiteration of the explanation contained in the explanatory guide. I propose to say why I am not satisfied. In saying that I am not satisfied, of course I recognise that constitutional law is an inexact science and it may well be that the Single European Act is perfectly in accordance with the Constitution. My job here is not to decide that; my job is merely to raise the questions that are appropriate so that the Minister can consider the implications of my suggestions. Other people, if they think it is appropriate, can also consider these statements.

I concentrated for the purpose of the examination of this on two particular articles in the Single European Act. I would like first of all to refer to Article 25. When I say I concentrated on them, of course I did not concentrate on them exclusively. Before I come to Article 25 there is another one, Article 21, which explains in a more clear cut way the points I want to make. Article 21 deals with the question of social policy and it amends and extends Article 118 of the original treaty. Article 118 of the original treaty is very short and I will read it for the House. It reads:

Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty and in conformity with its general objectives, the Commission shall have the task of promoting close co-operation between Member States.

It mentions various fields. The fields are not important. What I think is important is that the Commission shall have the task of promoting close co-operation. It then says:

To this end, the Commission shall act in close contact with Member States by making studies, delivering opinions and arranging consultations both on problems arising at national level and those of concern to internal organisations.

In other words, opinions and close co-operation between member states were originally envisaged with regard to the employment law, labour law and working conditions.

Section 2 of Article 118A, page 53 of the explanatory guide reads:

In addition to help achieve the objective laid down in the first paragraph, the Council, ...shall adopt, by means of directives, minimum requirements for gradual implementation.

I have no objection to or problem with that but it does envisage that the Community will use its procedures to make laws which will affect Ireland and affect the citizens of Ireland. That is clearly envisaged there that these laws will affect the people of Ireland. Similarly but not, indeed, quite as clearly one can look at Article 25 and when replying the Minister might be able to help me on that. It deals with the environment.

My experience in Europe is that the Germans in particular, to use a colloquialism, go bananas on the environment. The environment is a buzz word in German. It is an indication of their social wealth and their social purpose that the environment is so important to them. Article 25 of the Single European Act states:

Action by the Community relating to the environment shall be based on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source, and that the polluter should pay.

I do not see it laid out, except in Article 130S on page 58 of the explanatory guide and it states:

The Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission ... shall decide what action is to be taken by the Community.

Presumably that action may include directives with the force of law in Ireland. The Minister might indicate that that is a possible interpretation. I assume for the purpose of my argument that it is in fact the interpretation. Here we have two matters on which it is proposed that laws would be made affecting the citizens of Ireland. These are also referred to by the Government in their explanatory guide in relation to Article 21. It states on page 22:

The provisions on the working environment should lead gradually to improvements in the Community as regards the health and safety of workers. The provision for dialogue between the social partners at the European level is a positive step.

Article 25 is dealt with in paragraph 2.47, on page 25 of the explanatory guide which states:

Until now, Community action in the area of the environment has been taken pursuant to the residual powers of the Community under Article 235 of the EEC Treaty.

That is an admission that there was no specific power, except whatever power is contained in Article 235. That is a power which certainly was not meant to introduce a whole new dimension into the treaties. The original Article 235 stated:

If action by the Community should prove necessary to attain, in the course of the operation of the common market, one of the objectives of the Community and this Treaty has not provided the necessary powers, the Council shall, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the Assembly, take the appropriate measures.

I realise that is used as a sweeping up measure where no other power is available. I doubt that it has much relevance to the very specific power being given under the new Article 25 in the Single European Act.

Those are examples of two areas in which additional powers are being granted by the Single European Act. Does that have any constitutional implications as far as this country is concerned? The Minister said in his Second Stage speech that to examine that one must look at Article 29 of the Constitution. Article 29.4.3º states:

The State may become a member of the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.

It also states:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State, necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.

The second part of the second sentence is merely saying that if a law is enacted by the Community its constitutionality cannot be challenged. That is basically what it says. That does not mean any law at all can be enacted. It is only a law which falls within the provisions of the treaty.

The first part of the sentence says:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State, necessitated by the obligations of membership...

Does that mean that it is necessitated by our obligations contained in the treaty which we signed, or can we voluntarily extend that treaty in undertaking new obligations and overcome the constitutional requirement by that device? That, effectively, is what the Minister said in his Second Stage speech. I cannot subscribe to that interpretation. The Minister said:

The Government are satisfied that the amendments to the European Community Treaties contained in the Single European Act do not require an amendment of the Constitution... The Community Treaties expressly envisage the possibility that they may be amended, for example, in the case of the EC Treaty through the provisions of Article 236...

Let us examine Article 236 of the original treaty. The Minister is telling the truth but it may be of the kind that was told recently by Sir Robert Armstrong rather than the literal truth. Article 236 says that the amendments can be made but it says quite clearly that they come into force, having been ratified by all the members in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

It is specifically laid down that no amendment to the treaty will come into operation until it is ratified in accordance with the respective constitutional requirements of the members. The very fact that the treaty has previously been amended is not decisive. The Minister goes on to say that the treaties have been amended a number of times since we joined the Community. That is right and any amendment of the treaty which does not require a constitutional amendment but merely an enactment of a law by the Oireachtas, can take place because, if it is ratified by the Dáil and Seanad and enacted in an Act, that meets our constitutional requirements. Our constitutional requirements are met clearly by an amendment of a type and a quality which can be implemented by the Dáil and Seanad of their own volition and power.

There are two categories of amendments. To say that the treaty has been amended previously does not meet the full case. One category of amendment is that amendment of the treaty in respect of which the Dáil and Seanad, acting as a Legislature, can make the necessary changes in our domestic law to implement it. There is another category which relates to matters which are outside the competence of the Dáil and Seanad. It is possible to say that the treaty has been legitimately amended, but it is still possible that, in respect of certain types of amendment, it would be necessary to go to the people. Therefore, for the Minister to make a point that the treaty has been amended on a number of occasions is, in my opinion, not meeting the case fully.

The expansion of the Community with Greece, Spain and Portugal required enactment of legislation but it did not require a constitutional amendment. There are many other types of amendments which certainly would not require constitutional amendment. In respect of what is contained in the Single European Act and, in particular, what is contained in Articles 21 and 25, are they, in fact, changes in the treaty which expand the area in which some organisation, other than the Dáil and Seanad, have a competence to make laws, I believe that is, in fact, what it is doing. In the case of Articles 21 and 25 I believe power is being given to the European Community to make laws in respect of the environment in one case and the welfare of workers on the other and that these laws may supersede and may amend, for example, the Safety in Industry Acts 1955 to 1980, the law which deals at present with the welfare of workers in factories. In reality a law will be capable of being enacted by the Community. I am not saying it will be done overnight. I am not saying I am even worried if it is done. The reality is that it can be done.

The Minister in his Second Stage speech used what I can only call a fairly convoluted argument when he said:

By virtue to the Third Amendment of the Constitution, the State is constitutionally entitled to play its full part in the operation of Community Treaties. This includes the provisions of those Treaties which permit their amendment by common agreement of the member states.

Of course that is part of the treaty but that portion of the treaty is itself subject to restriction. The amendment can only take place when each of the states has acted in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. Of course we are entitled to take part in discussions about amendments of the treaty and of course we are entitled to agree to amendments of the treaty, but we are only entitled to agree and there is only the power to do so within the context of Article 236 of the original treaty, which is that our own constitutional requirements must be satisfied.

It is not advancing the case any further whatsoever to say that the treaties admit the amendment by the common agreement of the member states. If, for example, the treaty in Article 236 said you could amend the treaty by agreement of the Governments or by agreement of the Parliaments, that is fair enough. We would be covered, but it does not say that. It says that they will only come into operation when it has been ratified by the member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. Therefore, it falls to be decided as to what our constitutional requirement is in that matter. The Minister goes on to say:

The considered view of the Government is that the State, by virtue of the Third Amendment, has authority to agree to amendments of the Treaties which remain within the scope, both as regards subject-matter and as regards the nature and functions of the Community institutions of the Treaties as they were when we joined the Communities in 1973. When ratified pursuant to this authority, compliance with these amending Treaties becomes necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities.

Effectively he is saying the Government's view is that any amendment of the treaty with regard to subject matter and as regards the nature and functions of the Community which was envisaged in the 1973 Treaty that is necessary, the Government having agreed upon it, can become a matter which is necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Community and is therefore brought within the definition of Article 29 of the Constitution.

That to me appears to be an extraordinary position for the Government to hold. I am not criticising the Minister for holding that position. The Minister stated quite clearly in the Dáil that he had been guaranteed by the Attorney General that it did not need a constitutional amendment. The Minister would be very foolish not to proceed on that basis. I have no dispute with the Minister in that regard. I am just saying I am mindful of the excellence of the service provided by this Attorney General and previous Attorneys General and the back-up which he and his predecessors have enjoyed. I am conscious of the fact that it does not appear to me to be anything like as cut and dried as that. For that reason I have considerable doubts as to whether this is constitutional.

It is important to find out if it is constitutional because I am a realist. This will not be the last amendment to the European Economic Community Treaties. Life will move on and other things will be decided. It is only right and proper to find out what the real position is. It is not my job to assess that. That is a matter for the various organs of State or the Judiciary on receipt of an appropriate request from a citizen, the President, or anybody else who considers it important enough to bring such a case.

We clearly need a definitive judicial interpretation with regard to the nature and scope of amendment to treaties which do not require constitutional referenda and amendments. The Minister acknowledges that amendments to the treaty can only be limited in character. It appears right and proper that, if the Minister acknowledges that there is a limit to the power of the Oireachtas to agree to an amendment of the treaty, the limits of that power should, in so as it can be done, be clearly established and some mechanism should be put into place whereby the limits of the Government's power in that matter would be established.

Having those strong views on the Bill people might ask why I am supporting it on Second Stage. I am certainly not supporting it on Second Stage because there is a Whip, which I consider to be irrelevant. That is certainly not the reason. I agree with the amendments. The amendments reflect the excellent work that has been done by the Government and by Senator Dooge in the preparatory work which he did. I have no difficulty whatsoever with the amendments. The amendments with regard to the working conditions within the Community are very useful and I am sure by the time our friends in Germany have worked on the environment provisions they will be an important addition to this most important area of policy.

I feel the time has come when the extent to which we may amend the Community has become a public issue. It is important that it should be established. If it was necessary to have a constitutional amendment to ratify the Single European Act, I would support it. Therefore, I do not see any good reason why I should oppose this on Second Stage or any other Stage. By doing so I am saying that my interpretation of the law is superior to that of the Attorney General. I am not willing to do that. It is not my job. If there is a genuine dispute with regard to the correct interpretation of the law, I am quite happy to go along with what the Attorney General says. The purpose of my intervention it to put on record the difficulties which I see so that the Government in considering this or any subsequent legislation might try to initiate some kind of procedure which will assist this House and its successors in defining the extent to which the various treaties can be amended without reference to the people. I look forward to Committee Stage.

It was not my intention to comment. I listened very carefully to the worth-while contribution by Senator O'Leary. I was very interested in his comments especially the preamble to his speech in relation to his total lack of belief in the concept of a united Europe, his lack of belief in the whole philosophy of the Common Market. If somebody came down from Mars and read Senator O'Leary's speech he would presume that he had carried the banner very high not just on Ireland's entry into the Common Market but on the preamble to that, the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement introduced by the late Seán Lemass.

I am in favour of it because it suits us.

I did not interrupt the Senator. The reality is very simple. At a time of Ireland's accession to the EC the Fine Gael and the Fianna Fáil position was that Ireland would benefit enormously from access to a market with hundreds of millions of people and that outside industry from Japan and America would flood in here in order to gain access. The Labour Party said it would not happen. They said it was illogical to expect that sort of movement either from Japan or America into an offshore island in order to transport goods into Europe. We said it would not happen, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil said it would. It did not.

In relation to farming, both the major parties said the bonanza for farming would not just be immediate but would be ongoing, ad infinitum, and we said that was not true. The Labour Party said at that time that there would be very short term benefits for some farmers but in the long term we did not envisage that either Germany or Britain would sustain a dear food policy. That is evident with the disarray in CAP and so on. The benefits to Irish farming are very different now. Progressively you will see the dismantlement of any advantage to the farming community. The Labour Party said that would happen.

With regard to the regional fund, we made the claim at the time, disputed hotly by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, that there would not be a massive transfer of resources from the centre to the regions or the outposts mentioned by Senator O'Leary. We said in essence that it was a rich man's club. The statistics will show that in Europe the rich got richer and the poor got significantly poorer. There was no massive transfer of riches.

I found Senator O'Leary's contribution quite extraordinary. One would have imagined that he should have been on the other side of the argument. I support the Single European Act because it was evident when the debate for Ireland's accession to the European Community was taking place that it was not simply an economic union. The founders of the Common Market made it clear that they sought, in the long term, political unity. Nobody was under any illusion when we signed the treaty of accession. There was an inevitable progress towards European unity by consent. The Single European Act is a logical development of that philosophy. Being in the Common Market it is a necessary development step along the road towards political unity. For Senator O'Leary to say he is for the Common Market, for a united states of Europe, when it suits Ireland's interests and that he is against it when it does not suit Ireland's interest, it totally illogical.

Sometimes I criticise the supporters of my party who want to be in Government on Tuesday when things are all right and want to get out on Wednesday when things are tough. That is not a luxury open to anybody. The sort of luxury Senator O'Leary referred to about whether it was against Ireland's interest to want to be out is not available to him either, his party or Fianna Fáil. I do not have the fears some of my colleagues expressed on issues such as neutrality and so on. The Labour Party made a public declaration at the time and accepted the will of the Irish people in relation to our membership of the Common Market and, by implication, accepted the extension of that Common Market, that it did not simply relate to tariffs but related in the long term to some form of acceptable political union. That was an inescapable fact and my party accepted it. It would be illogical for this party to try to roll back from it as Senator O'Leary attempted in his contribution. The Labour Party were the only party to get it right.

This has been a fairly wide-ranging debate. I want to thank Senators who contributed to it. It was so wide-ranging that it is hard to link all the points and reply to them in any coherent fashion. My reply will inevitably be more disjointed than I might have wished.

Senators approached this debate with their particular perspectives and with differences of emphasis in contributions. I was glad to hear that many Senators went out of their way to make clear their view that there were real advantages for Ireland in the Single European Act. There was a fairly general acceptance, from which one or two Senators dissented, of the importance of the Act for the future development of the Community and by extension our future development.

There were two main interests which received attention: one was neutrality and the political question, the process of European political co-operation. The other was the question of the economic challenges and opportunities posed by the Single European Act. In that context the question about convergence or cohesion was much in people's minds. Understandably, those two issues tended to dominate the discussion because they are areas the Government sought to bring to the forefront of the discussion. They did that in the Dáil when the Minister for Foreign Affairs tabled a motion drawing the Dáil's very particular attention to these areas. A motion is similar terms appears on the Seanad Order Paper today in the names of Senator Dooge and Senator Ferris, the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Seanad.

The Government were anxious to focus attention on these areas as areas of particular importance to Ireland and areas receiving a degree of public attention throughout the course of the debate. The Government throughout have been anxious that there should be a full debate on this subject and that there should be an informed debate on the subject. That fact was questioned by Senator Robinson. There is no validity in that question. The fact of the matter is that the Act was negotiated and signed the best part of a year ago. It has been when available for public inspection and for public debate since then.

It is being suggested in some quarters that there was something peculiar in a process whereby an Act of this nature was signed by the Government and that it is only afterwards that it comes to the Houses of the Oireachtas for ratification. Of course, that is only nonsense. That is the procedure that is followed with any international treaty. One recalls a treaty as momentous as the Anglo-Irish Agreement which was signed by the Taoiseach and by the British Prime Minister and then came to the Dáil, as required by Constitution, for ratification. That happens in international treaties of much less substance. The proper procedure was followed.

In this particular instance the process of negotiation was sufficiently protracted so that it was possible to keep the Oireachtas and the Irish people informed. The progress of negotiations was an important part of successive reports from the Taoiseach after meetings of the European Council. It was something that received the attention of the joint committee. Let no one believe that there has been any anxiety during the process of negotiations, or subsequently, to prevent debate on this point.

For my own part, during the course of the summer months, I made a whole series of speeches on the subject and I found it impossible to get anyone to take any interest in them. One of them achieved the highlight of page 17 of The Irish Times, or something of that order. Unless anyone might think I was seeking only to speak to the converted, whenever I got some of these circular letters that Senators will have received from various organisations concerned by certain aspects of it — most particularly concerned about the political implications — I replied to them saying I did not share their fears but that if they were holding any meetings on the subject or organising any debates, I would be delighted to come along and speak with them. I did not get a single invitation back in response. There is little substance in the charge of lack of consultation.

More specifically, there is no substance in the idea that this is being rushed through the Oireachtas with inadequate debate. I have been checking during the course of the day. As far as I can tell at this stage I have not got the last of the reports in — it now seems that the debate in Oireachtas Éireann will be the longest parliamentary debate that has taken place in any of the Parliaments of the member states, and I can say this with some confidence. In France, for example, each House devoted one day to the subject and that is fairly typical, from what one can see.

Senator Dooge's contribution was a particularly helpful and important one. Given that Senator O'Leary claims that Senator Dooge is the only person in the Seanad who really understands the Single European Act. Senator Dooge's contribution was clearly an important one. It is important and helpful in that it placed the Act in the context of efforts over many years and to regenerate and relaunch the Community. The Senator was critical of the relatively modest degree to which the Parliament's powers had been extended by the Single European Act. I see that point. For my part, I would not be so pessimistic. It gives Parliament an important and enhanced role in the Community's decision-making process. It allows it to bring much more influence to bear on decisions, although it is true that the Council of Ministers still retains the final say.

Senator O'Donoghue's contribution reminded us of one important fact that I think not even the most enthusiastic proponents of this measure could gainsay. That is that the Single European Act does not represent a panacea for all our problems. What it does is that it offers opportunities. The extent to which the Single European Act will achieve the hopes that many of us have for this country will depend on the ingenuity, skill and the application of our industrialists, scientists, technologists, and of our farmers. What the Single European Act does do is to offer an opportunity to those people to move forward.

The Senator commented that the reference to the chapter on cohesion is the latest in a line of commitments which the Community has made to reducing regional disparities. He suggested that there has been a variation between the generosity of the promise and the paucity of the delivery. It is a point that is fairly made. I have to say to him that there is a qualitative difference in the case of chapter 23. There what is involved is the incorporation of provisions on cohesion into the body of the treaty itself. That represents a difference in quality to anything that has preceded it. That incorporation into the treaty provides a firm base on which we can pursue our interests. I can say to the House that the Government will certainly be doing that, and doing it with vigour.

Senator Lanigan's contribution was in marked contrast with the contribution of Senator Eoin Ryan, which was extremely helpful and positive in tone. It is true, of course, that Senator Lanigan saw much that was positive in the Single European Act but having said that, he did not over-concentrate in his contribution on those positive aspects. He had a series of complaints. He was concerned that a number of Departments were reluctant to provide information either on the Single European Act or on the 300 directives which, he said, will have to be completed if the internal market is to become a reality. That is just not so.

I have already indicated the extent to which the Government are anxious to promote a debate on this subject and anxious that that debate should be an informed one.

Very comprehensive information on the Single European Act has been provided. We have responded in detail to any specific query that has been put to us. We have made available something like 15,000 copies of the explanatory memorandum. For those with queries on any of the specific directives that are in what is a fairly bulging pipeline, information is provided, is made available, and will continue to be made available. It is accepted now by all parties in the House that in the light of the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee which dealt with the question of the completion of the internal market, arrangements have been made to give this subject the prominence which it will merit in the six monthly reports in future on developments in the Community.

The Senator had a number of other comments to make. First of all, he felt that there was no need to ratify the Single European Act by the end of the year. The factual situation is that the Government, along with each of the eleven member governments, entered into commitments. That is a commitment which the Government are determined to honour. I have said that our partners would find any tardiness, any begrudgery or back-sliding on our part hard to understand, coming from such a substantial net beneficiary.

This argument that we can put it off until later and that we will have a look at it when it might be convenient for us to do so in the weeks, months or years ahead is just one part of a depressingly negative approach to the Single European Act. There is no reason for that negativism, or for that sense of defeatism. We are entitled to approach the Single European Act with a degree of confidence and enthusiasm. To say otherwise is as I said, to express a vote of no confidence in those for whom the Act was designed. The farmers, industrialists and the scientists will stand to benefit from it.

The Senator referred to a latter from Conradh na Gaeilge dealing with aspects of the Act. I have here the reply from the Minister to that letter from Conradh na Gaeilge which takes up in great detail each of the points made. I am more than happy to make it available to him and, indeed, to any other Senator who would like to see the rebuttal of the points made by An Conradh.

We heard from Senator Howard what I thought was a very substantial contribution to the debate. I must say I agree very much with his view that there should be no question or thought of us becoming a conditional member of the Community. It is that rejection of any conditionality to our membership that would be likely to influence our approach to the Single European Act.

Senator Robinson dealt with the question of the procedure followed and added her endorsement to the process that was followed. As Senators know this subject was dealt with at considerable length by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his opening speech. It is a subject that featured in one or two other contributions later. The Government are satisfied that a constitutional amendment is not required to permit this country to ratify the Single European Act.

Senator O'Leary dwelt substantially on the question of the constitutionality of the procedure not being followed. Accepting, for the purpose of argument, his thesis that only some possible amendments to the treaties would be constitutional, he said that he has to draw a distinction between these amendments and the series of amendments that have taken place since our accession to membership. Anyone who shares his doubts on this would presumably seek to distinguish what we are about now from everything that has gone before. Suggesting that what is now happening is not of a limited nature while everything else was of little substance, ignores the reality of some of the previous amendments. In terms of the nature of the Community we are a member of, the decision of the Community to expand so as to provide for the membership of Spain, Portugal and Greece has changed the character of the Community much more fundamentally and much more radically than anything that has happened in the Single European Act. In terms of our role and our position within the Community, enlargement was much more crucial than anything that happens in the Single European Act.

He referred to two articles of the Single European Act, Articles 21 and 25, which he suggested caused him particular concern. These are the articles dealing with social policy and with the environment. He is quite wrong in attributing all the credit or all the blame for environment policy to our German partners. There is nothing new about legislation in these areas. Environment and social policy have been the subject of a whole series of directives, some of which at least have attracted the interest of this House in the past.

In the environment area, for example, there have been directives relating to lead in petrol, the quality of drinking water, water pollution and bathing water, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and a whole host of other substances. In the working conditions area, areas that have attracted the attention of the Council include asbestos, noise and, given time, no doubt I could think of many others. There is nothing new about the idea that the Community would legislate in this area.

With regard to the social policy area the factual situation has been that social policy has been an important part of what the Community has been all about. Senator O'Leary referred to Article 117 of the treaty which states:

Member States agree upon the need to promote improved working conditions and an improved standard of living for workers, so as to make possible their harmonisation while the improvement is being maintained.

They believe that such a development will ensure not only from the functioning of the common market, which will favour harmonisation of social systems, but also from the procedures provided for in this Treaty and from the approximation of provisions laid down by law, regulations or administrative action.

Based on Article 117 and pursuant then to Article 235 the Community has frequently legislated in this area. After very careful consideration the Government are satisfied that a constitutional amendment is not required in order to permit this country to ratify the Single European Act.

Is the Minister satisfied about that? Are the Government satisfied?

The Government speak with one voice. The other area which preoccupied a number of Senators during the course of the debate was the area of neutrality. This figure particularly in the contributions of Senator Higgins and Senator Ryan but a number of other Senators also dealt with the subject.

The single market was the central piece of my contribution.

I was going to credit the Senator with having two central parts to his contribution. The concerns that have been expressed both within the House and elsewhere in relation to neutrality do not take account of what has been the practice within the Community for many years. Nor do they take account of the extent to which, in the negotiating process, our concerns and anxieties were taken on board. Some Senators expressed anxiety about neutrality and have been concerned that our neutrality is somehow or other impaired by participation in the process of European political co-operation. A number of Senators said the Act would have adverse implications for our neutrality. It has been explained again and again in the course of this debate, outside the Oireachas, on Second and Committee Stages and yesterday by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the start of this debate, that the Single European Act very clearly takes account of our anxieties and the provisions on foreign policy fully accommodate our position on neutrality outside military alliances.

Dáil Éireann in recognising that — their attention has been specifically drawn to it by the Government — have already approved a motion recognising that that is the case. I hope the Seanad does choose to do likewise. If the Seanad does choose to do likewise, and I expect it will, that will enable the Government to proceed with their intention of depositing a joint motion of both Houses of the Oireachtas with the Italian Government at the same time as our instrument of ratification.

Several Senators claimed that the Single European Act entails an erosion of our independence on foreign policy and that somehow or other the Act is an attempt to smuggle us into an alliance, a military alliance. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever which would support such a contention. Decisions on European political co-operation will continue to be made on the basis of consensus and, moreover, as a reading of the text establishes, the distinction between matters appropriate to the European Community and matters appropriate to NATO or to the Western European Union are clearly set out in the Single European Act as we would have wished to see happening and did see happening.

On the question of participation in the European political co-operation, people are perhaps unduly defensive and do not adequately take on board our capacity to contribute and to influence our partners. In the course of his speech in the Dáil the Taoiseach drew attention to the series of areas where we have been very effective in persuading others of the relevance of our views. He instanced, for example, our concerns in relation to the Middle East where, perhaps ahead of most of our partners, we were aware of the need to address the Palestinian problem in the Middle East context. That is now being reflected in the Venice declaration in a whole series of statements that followed from it. There is also the extent to which we have contributed to Community policy on Central America, the extent to which the Community have moved towards where we would want them to be, though still not ending up where we wanted to be in relation to South Africa. I do not think we should be apologetic about the contribution we are capable of making within the process of European political co-operation. Our participation has added a quality, a richness to our foreign policy that was not there before we participated as full partners in that process.

Later this evening the Seanad will be turning its attention to the role of the Oireachtas in foreign policy, the question of how the Oireachtas can best participate and best monitor this. It is interesting that everyone is now saying that there are so many dimensions to our foreign policy and many of those stem directly from our participation in European political co-operation and directly from our membership of the Community, that it is a question by what means the Oireachtas should now gear itself further to take that on board. There is absolutely no threat whatsoever to our neutrality.

With regard to the concerns that have been expressed about the question of completion of the internal market, one thing that has surprised me throughout this debate is the number of people who have addressed this issue as if it were something new and strange, that we are all going to find ourselves part of the internal market in 1992 or whatever the completion date will be. Senator Ross expressed scepticism as to whether the target date of 1992 will be met. The creation of an internal market has been absolutely central to what the Community has been all about from the beginning. It is because it was central to what the Community was all about from the beginning that some of those who campaigned against our membership did so and why some of those who described themselves as unreconstructed opponents of our membership continue to oppose our membership. The extent to which it is central to what the Community is all about is the fact that so many Irish people invariably refer to the Community as the Common Market because they think of it as being a common market simpliciter. We stand to benefit from an advance towards the completion of this single internal market. We stand to benefit because we are so uniquely dependent on trade. The fact that 70 per cent of our exports are to the Community and that more than two-thirds of jobs in the manufacturing sector are dependent on exports means that we have a unique interest in seeing the internal market achieved. It is true that there has been progress. There has been progress on the elimination of tariff barriers but it is equally true we are a long way from seeing that internal market a reality. Various non-tariff measures, national standards and so on have ensured that the European Community has not achieved its potential and has not made a reality out of its potential to be the largest market in the world. While the European Community has failed to deliver on its potential it has lost ground to the United States, Japan and other major competitors.

The internal market offers us opportunities and it is for us to respond to them. The provisions of the internal market should not be seen as standing alone. The have to be read alongside the very important provisions on cohesion, provisions which, as I mentioned earlier when referring to Senator O'Donoghue's contribution, are now for the first time given a treaty base which is something qualitatively different than anything that has gone before.

A number of specific questions were asked at various stages throughout the debate and I will answer one or two of those now. One question related to the new court and this was referred to by Senator Hillery and Senator Michael Higgins. The situation is that the unanimous agreement of member states is required, first, to set up the new court and, secondly, to give it jurisdiction. Questions were asked as to what kind of cases the court could deal with. There are a number of types of cases which could be assigned to the new court. They include actions brought against Community institutions by a member of its staff. They are very frequent. If anyone has occasion to look to the European Court from time to time one would find that the staff members of the European institutions are quite a litigious bunch and are well aware of the prospects. Another possible case would be an action for damages brought by a natural or legal person against the Community under Article 215 of the EC Treaty or the corresponding provisions of the Coal and Steel Treaty on EURATOM. Another possibility would be actions by natural or legal persons to annual acts of the Community institutions.

The Act makes it clear that there are cases which cannot be assigned to them in court. These would include references by national courts for preliminary rulings by the European Court or actions brought by one member state under the treaties—that is either one member state against another member state or one member state challenging one of the Community institutions — neither can an action be brought by a Community institution before this new court. The new court was designed to identify a perceived administrative weakness in the present set-up and to streamline procedure. It is clearly seen as an inferior tribunal from which a right of appeal will exist to the Court of Justice because that structure is so clearly seen as being subordinate to the European Court of Justice indicates that no one should have any particular concern about the functions it might fulfil. There is not a great deal more I want to say on this Stage. I understand that on Committee Stage the amendments which have been tabled will allow us to focus on some of the questions concerning neutrality, the internal market or the adequacy of the cohesion provisions or whatever. I look forward to that very much.

I thank the Senators who have contributed to the debate. It is an important debate because it gives us an opportunity to review our membership of the Community. Senator O'Leary expressed the view that there were wide-eyed idealists around in relation to the European Community. I make no apology to anyone for saying that I am an enthusiast and an idealist. As I commented in my contribution in the other House, my first political memory is of climbing up and down lamp posts in O'Connell Street with the Young European Federalist campaign. On that occasion the posters said: "The balance favours entry so vote yes". I do not in the slightest regret the various injuries to my shin and so on. We decided on that occasion by an overwhelming majority to throw in our lot with the European Community in the belief that it offered us economic potential and also that it was a Community of like-minded people and that the ideals of the founding fathers were ideals to which we could give our adherence. We took that decision by referendum in 1972. We have the opportunity now in passing the Single European Act to reaffirm our faith and reaffirm our view that our place is in Europe with our partners. I urge Senators to take that course.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá 46; Níl 2.

  • Belton, Luke.
  • Browne, John.
  • Bulbulia, Katharine.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Connor, John.
  • Conway, Timmy.
  • Cregan, Denis (Dino).
  • Daly, Jack.
  • de Brún, Séamus.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Dooge, James C. I.
  • Durcan, Patrick.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fallon, Seán.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Alexis J. G.
  • Fitzsimons, Jack.
  • Fleming, Brian.
  • Hanafin, Des.
  • Harte, John.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hourigan, Richard V.
  • Howard, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kelleher, Peter.
  • Kennedy, Patrick.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lanigan, Mick.
  • Lennon, Joseph.
  • McDonald, Charlie.
  • McGonagle, Stephen.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Magner, Pat.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • O'Brien, Andy.
  • O'Leary, Seán
  • O'Mahony, Flor.
  • O'Toole, Martin J.
  • Quealy, Michael A.
  • Rogers, Bríd.
  • Ross, Shane P.N.
  • Ryan, Eoin.


  • Robb, John D. A.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Belton and Harte; Níl, Senators B. Ryan and Robb.
Question declared carried.

When is it proposed to take the next Stage?

It is proposed to take the next Stage later today when No. 5 has been disposed of.