Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 28 Mar 1996

Vol. 146 No. 19

Address by Professor James Dooge.

On behalf of the Members of Seanad Éireann, it is my privilege and honour to welcome Professor James Dooge to the House today, for he comes among us not only as a former Member and esteemed friend of this House but also as a distinguished office holder of the House itself, being Leas-Chathaoirleach from 1965 to 1973, Cathaoirleach from 1973 to 1977 and Leader of the House from 1983 to 1987.

Among his many distinctions and honours in academic and political life, Professor Dooge was particularly honoured in 1981 by the then Taoiseach, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, as a senatorial member of his Government in the prestigious role of Minister for Foreign Affairs. However, we can only muse on what might have been, had the uncertainties of political life not denied him the opportunity of carrying out the onerous responsibilities of this important international portfolio. Suffice to say that for those of us who have worked with him, we have come to know the depth and breadth of his learning, his wisdom and integrity, his renown as teacher and mentor and his innate graciousness and goodwill.

Such is his academic and political acumen that it was inevitable that Professor Dooge should be invited in 1984 to chair the Committee on Institutions which came to bear his name, the Dooge Committee. This committee was an ad hoc group of personal representatives of the heads of Government which the European Council agreed to establish at its Fontainbleau Summit in June 1984. Its task was to examine the possibility of institutional reform of the European Communities and one of its key suggestions was that a special intergovernmental conference be established to consider its ideas and construct a reform package from all reports and initiatives delivered over the previous few years. As Members will know, the conference prepared the way for the Single European Act and the Treaty on European Union.

In the intervening years, Professor Dooge maintained his interest in and commitment to European union. Today, a major part of his work is with the Institute of European Affairs, an independent self-governing body which promotes the advancement and spread of knowledge on the process of European integration and, in particular, on the role and contribution of Ireland within Europe. The institute's main aim is to provide objective analysis of the key political, economic, social and cultural issues for those charged with representing Irish views within European policy making structures.

The Maastricht Treaty provided for an intergovernmental conference in 1996 to examine certain provisions of that treaty; other significant items were added to the agenda by subsequent European Councils. In that context, and to facilitate the process of discussion on the questions the 1996 conference will face, the Institute of European Affairs has produced a report, under the chairmanship of Professor Dooge, on the issues, options and implications of further European Union evolution.

As Members will know, this is a historic occasion for Seanad Éireann because it is the first occasion on which the House has invited one of Ireland's own distinguished citizens to address it. By accepting the invitation to address us today on matters of the gravest import for the future of the European Union, Professor Dooge renews his affectionate association with Seanad Éireann and I now invite him to address the House.

Professor Dooge

Is cúis onóir domsa bheith arís sa seomra álainn seo agus mé a labhairt arís ós comhair an tSeanaid. Is dócha gur Oisín i ndiaidh na Féinne atá i gceist ach tá áthas orm go bhfuil dream beag do mo shean-cháirdí anseo. Níl na Fianna go léir caillte fós don Oisísín seo.

I am glad to talk to Members about what I consider to be one of the most important problems facing our country, that is, our future in Europe and the future of Europe itself. I am also happy to be here because this occasion represents an opening out of the procedures of the Seanad and an indication that it is not, as many people say moribund and a thing of the past. In adopting this procedure, which it is operating for the first time today, it is showing a flexibility which is and always has been inherent in it. The Seanad has played a critical role at many times in the history of this country, standing above the more factional arguments of political parties.

I am happy to talk to Members about the report prepared by the Institute of European Affairs on the intergovernmental conference. This report is timely because that conference will be formally launched tomorrow in Turin and will shortly settle down to its important work. I would like to speak to you about the nature of the Institute. It is, as is stated on the covers of all its reports, a permanent forum for the identification and development of Irish strategic policy responses to the continuing process of European integration. Its work is based on objective analysis of the problems involved, not of advocacy of any particular view point.

It is a remarkable institution which represents all economic sectors. It has excellent close relationships with the relevant Departments and it draws on people from all walks of life and — it is obvious since I chaired this project — on retired politicians as well as many eminent retired civil servants. In the few years since its foundation, it has filled a void in Irish public life — I use the words "public life" in the broadest sense. It should be a matter of gratification to Members of this House that the inspiration and leadership for that came from Brendan Halligan, a former Member. He also acted as project leader on this occasion.

I will hark back to being a professor by saying this is the report but there is no written or oral examination on it. It is terrible to hold up a report before such a busy group of people. I want to put the report in context and to assure the House that an introductory shorter version will be launched next Tuesday, which I am sure Members will manage to get through.

Why did we spend two years producing such a report? It is part of the process of integration. We were admitted to Europe in 1973 on the second attempt having been vetoed, with our neighbouring island, on an earlier occasion. Critical turning points were the Single European Act, 1987, and the Maastricht Treaty and the associated referenda. We see a massive confusion when we look back to the Maastricht debate. The debate never became concerned with the fundamental issues or thought of the long-term future. Perhaps that was all right then but God help us if we try to do this again because we will find ourselves in a morass.

During the Maastricht process we saw, not only in this country but throughout Europe, what amounted to a revolt — not in the physical sense — by the electorate against what it perceived as an element of secrecy and elitism as regards proposals made and the manner in which they were arrived at. Following the conclusion of that process, the Institute of European Affairs asked how it could prevent this from happening again. We decided there was a duty on us to contribute as far as we could to ensuring that we would be better prepared when we reach the end of this Intergovernmental Conference which is now starting and the debate and decisions which will ensue. In this regard, as with so much else, there is a demand for openness and accountability which must be met. We have no option. Politicians cannot afford to wait until the bugle blows for the referendum campaign. If they follow that course, they will find themselves in considerable difficulty. We must start the job of communication among the policy making and the political community and among the public. There is much ground to be regained.

When the Institute decided something needed to be done, work was being arrived out on a number of projects, including studies on economic and monetary union, social issues in European, enlargement and the problems of security. However, it was decided that there should be an overarching project which would bring in specialised results from these projects and try to put together the essential things — the issues, the options and the implications for Ireland.

It may be of interest to Members to know how that project was carried out. Some 18 contributors, whose names are listed in the report, drafted chapters in early 1994. In 1994 and 1995 a series of different discussions took place. First, there were discussions among the contributors and members of the executive bureau of the project who were guiding the process. As a result, a degree of synthesis took place between the individual chapters. This report is noteworthy in that, unlike other reports by the Institute which have a number of contributors, the authors names do not appear on the chapters which they first wrote. Everything has been synthesised into a unit. They are recognised in the report as a group, not as individuals.

The report was circulated to relevant Departments and there was a free exchange of comment and discussion with them. It was also circulated to the working groups of the other project groups of the Institute of European Affairs and to a number of extremely senior retired civil servants. It was discussed on a number of occasions with the Brussels group of the Institute of European Affairs which had all the inside knowledge as 95 per cent of these people work for the institutions of the European Union.

In May 1995 a draft report was prepared to coincide with the meeting of the Reflection Group which was the first informal discussion at which the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Gay Mitchell, represented this country. Following on that and further discussions, this large report in my hand appeared in December last. It amounts to 262 pages and it is not easy reading. We attempted to produce a report in which all the issues, options and implications could be found. Dermot Scott of the Parliament Office in Dublin has, in his private capacity, produced a shorter report which I received only this morning. It will be launched next Tuesday and arrangements will be made to provide Senators with copies. It is written in a more popular way. Senators will be glad to know it contains a glossary at the back which will help them through some of the jargon. For those who want to contribute to this question of raising the whole standard of debate about Europe, this is an excellent starting point. If Senators are interested in any of the individual topics to greater depth, there are about 25 chapters in the large report. The report is intended as a background reference work.

There is, as I have said before, a need to communicate the essential points to the public and to encourage a rational debate. What is likely to be the attitude of members of the public to it? Possibly, they will shrug their shoulders and say "Europe, again; we have only just finished talking about that". Other matters are more important than Europe. Problems such as unemployment are much more important than the question of European Monetary Union. The questions of drugs and crime are much more important than the question of whether there should be a third pillar to the European Union. I am more worried about how to pay my mortgage next month than as to any of these developments. These are the internal issues that worry people nowadays. What I want to put to the House this afternoon, and what is backed up by the report, is that an essential element in a long-term solution to many of these problems lies in working within a European context and according to principles that are here in the report.

There are also external issue such as incidents which people see on their televisions and which concern them greatly. There is the whole question of these problems which come from the outside but affect our lives. There is the question of the growth of the global economy, the industrial competition from the tigers of the Far East. There is the external factor of all this talk about enlargement. Will our agriculture industry falter when the CAP must take care of Poland in addition to our own counties? There is the question of what we saw happening in Rwanda and in Yugoslavia. I am suggesting that these concerns are all tied in with the question of the future of Europe.

I want to outline what I think will be some of the main topics of such a debate. Essentially, what are the main issues? If you ask yourself that, you can turn to chapter five of this report which contains a summary of ten issues. Let me outline them quickly: "the future of the European Union and its relationship with the rest of the continent, that is, what is Europe when we talk of Europe in the sense of the Union? The balance to be struck between shared sovereignty and the traditional intergovern-mentalism that we have seen in the past, where Governments come together to co-ordinate not to share; the common tasks to be pursued under shared sovereignty and traditional intergovernmentalism. The institutions and the voting procedures through which they are to be achieved; the impact of enlargement on the institutions, common policies and budgetary requirements; the extent to which differences in political will and economic capacity can be reconciled; the relationship between the member states in view of the differences in size, development and national interest; the identification of building blocks for deeper integration or strengthened co-operation; the need to respect subsidiarity, efficiency, transferability, accountability; and, finally, the overriding necessity of securing democratic consent for the already established goal of ever closer union between the peoples of Europe."

When we come to tackle these issues, what must we decide? What are the issues which will be quarrelled about at the Intergovernmental Conference which is about to be launched? On the question of what is the appropriate overall speed, there will be differences. When people were considering the options in preparing their chapters, we took the analogy of a motor car. We asked them to consider the following; what would happen to Europe if things were to go into reverse? What would happen if the whole thing remained in neutral? What would happen if we went into first gear, only consolidated Maastricht and did virtually nothing else; and all the way up to going into overdrive towards the final step of a federal Europe? When we look at all those stages and ask what era we are in at present, if we say "Right, consolidate Maastricht" we are remaining in neutral with the handbrake on. That might seem a very safe position until you realise the car is parked on a steep hill and, in fact, the attempt to remain in neutral with the handbrake on will roll the car to the bottom of the hill eventually. The handbrake will not be able to take the strain forever.

What is the appropriate speed? Here, choices must be made. It seems that the position of this country and, hopefully, the general position which will be reached is not one of going into overdrive towards a federal union, not one of going into reverse as the Government of a neighbouring island may desire, not one of being in neutral but one of starting off, getting into first gear and, as one always does, getting rather quickly into second gear. Somewhere between second and third gear appears to be the appropriate speed from now on.

There is a lot of talk emerging about variable commitment which we must think about carefully. It is an intermediate stage between national action, to which going into reverse might give rise, and the supernational integration of going into overdrive. Here the question of opting out arises. Britain has already opted out of the Maastricht social chapter. Are we going to find ourselves with a mass of opt-outs? This is, indeed, a problem. Can we maintain the Europe we set out to build and have this mass of opt-outs? Other people will say that variable commitment is difficult. What we want is variable speed. Here, again, we must be careful to distinguish what these terms mean. With variable speed, there is a common objective, but we do not all travel towards it at the same time. The variable commitment is saying we are going to stay out and, as we see it now, we are going to stay out for all time.

It would not be possible to talk about the issues in more detail in a short address such as this. However, I want to deal briefly with each of what are called the three pillars. Pillar I is concerned with questions on which we have already achieved substantial agreement and which are ruled by Community competence and largely by qualified majority voting. Is Pillar I relevant to the problems I mentioned earlier which concern so many of our citizens? What can we say to a person whose chief worry is paying the mortgage on his or her house? Will economic and monetary union make any difference to this?

There are many estimates as to what will happen if we join economic and monetary union but it so happens that this is one of the problems that can be alleviated by economic and monetary union. We all know there is a great gap between the rate a bank pays on a deposit and the rate at which it lends money. Do we all realise that the gap in Ireland is several times greater than the gap in Germany? A country, the stability of whose currency is recognised throughout the world market, does not have to pay a risk premium. That risk premium is paid by the ordinary borrower, whether for starting a small industry or paying a mortgage on a house. It has been estimated that economic and monetary union could reduce real interest rates by 2 per cent. That that would mean £50 a month off the average mortgage in this country and normal calculations indicate that it could mean 30,000 jobs.

The problem is what happens if we want to go in and Britain wants to stay out. That is something we must face solidly. We must follow immediately economic policies which will benefit this country, whether we are in the position of being in the economic and monetary union alongside Britain — and that is not ruled out when decision time comes — or in the economic and monetary union with Britain outside. Thanks be to God we are already following such policies. The policies we have been following in recent years are valid in this situation.

There are dangers. Britain outside using a competitive devaluation could be extremely dangerous. We have seen that before and we know it. Senators may have read in yesterday's newspapers about a meeting between the Ministers for Finance of France and Germany. They are already discussing how to control members outside the core group of the economic and monetary union who attempt to gain benefit in such ways. This problem can and will be met. Meanwhile, we must make our own preparations.

There is an area of difficulty for Ireland in a common security policy but we must realise that there are several elements of security policy. We are already committed since 1981 to the political and economic aspects of security. This was then codified in the Single European Act. We must distinguish between the options now being considered. The question of a common foreign and security policy will cover aspects of security policy in regard to peacekeeping, which we have already done under the United Nations, and the question of peacekeeping in the future under the direct auspices of the European Union. This is one step. A common defence policy in which there would be agreement and co-ordination of national policies leading to a common defence policy is a second step. A common defence is a third and critical step. It is not in question at the moment but it would be wrong to say it will never be a matter for decision. This is a complex problem and we must approach it calmly. There is no opportunity to discuss it in detail today.

The third pillar is Justice and Home Affairs and it is a question of co-ordinating policies in these areas. I mentioned people's concerns about drugs and crime. There is already a high degree of co-ordination internally in regard to the drugs trade and crime. What is concerned here is closer co-ordination and a movement forward. There are other areas where there is already co-ordination which tends to be more obstructive than helpful. On the questions of asylum, external borders and the immigration of non-EU citizens, we are already tied to the UK and that is a problem. We broke the link with sterling many years ago because we felt strong enough to do so. We have to decide whether we are going to be bound by British ideas of asylum and what type of immigrant we will allow or by European ideas on asylum and immigrants. Will the type of asylum seeker be decided in Westminister or in concert in Europe?

There is a need for debate and it should be based on real issues and facts. Senators are well placed to play a key role. They are in touch with the public — sometimes they feel they are too much in touch with the public and they would like a little peace. They have access to expert information. I want to say, on behalf of the Institute of European Affairs, that the resources of that Institute are available to the Seanad, to groups of Senators or to individual Senators. If Members of this House are prepared to undertake that task, they will be performing a notable public duty and former Senators, such as myself, will be proud of them.

Thank you, Senator Dooge. I welcome Senator Dooge's family, who join us today. I remind Members they can ask questions of two minutes.

I also welcome professor Dooge back to the House. It is good to hear his dulcet tones ringing as they did in the past. He was an illumination to this House and it is excellent to see him back here again. It is important that he is in the House on the day before the Intergovernmental Conference meets in Turin. There has been no debate in the House of the Oireachtas or elsewhere on the matters raised by the professor which will be important in the coming months. It is difficult to encapsulate all the points he raised, but the public would like further information on the 2 per cent decrease in interest rates.

Professor Dooge

No guarantees.

That aspect would get the best response. A number of items must be discussed and, given that the White paper on Foreign Policy was launched this week, it is opportune that the House begins the debate. I thank Professor Dooge and the institute for their work.

Professor Dooge drew a major distinction between European attitudes towards asylum seekers and immigration and Britain's attitude at present. He said there should be co-ordination in the context of the European attitude rather than the British attitude and I ask him to comment further on that aspect. It is opportune to consider these matters, including the opt-out clause regarding economic and monetary union.

At this time Europe is trying to dissociate itself from the problems of Britain in relation to beef. If Ireland has a major problem in the future, will we be forced to look to Britain for help, given that national rather than European problems will arise? It is disgusting that everybody is jumping on a bandwagon to dissociate themselves from Britain in relation to its difficulties. Britain might have dealt with these differently in the past and I ask professor Dooge to comment on how such problems could be overcome in the future.

In welcoming professor Dooge's family, I also note the presence in the House of former Senator, Mr. Brendan Halligan. I welcome him and compliment him on the successful work of the Institute of European Affairs.

My question is simple, but it may require a lengthy answer. In the course of his address, professor Dooge couched part of his comments in terms of Ireland breaking away from England's way of doing things and adopting a more European approach or practices. Can Ireland bring anything distinctive to this debate?

I was a Senator when Professor Dooge was also a Member of the House.

There was the olden days.

The old Seanad. I welcome the professor back to the House. His analysis of this matter is very much in line with his informed contributions in the House over many years. Europe now is very different from the Europe which was launched initially. This involved the internal cohesion of six countries and subsequently involved nine countries as a result of external fear. Internal political cohesion is an important part of Europe, but that degree of cohesion is not as evident now. An external threat or fear does not bring about the same level of internal cohesion and to what extent have Professor Dooge and the institute, which I also congratulate, reflected on that aspect? How firm is the foundation on which to build in comparison to 15 years ago?

Countries, notably the UK, which have the greatest reluctance in moving towards economic and monetary union might have no reluctance at all in relation to other pillars, such as the second pillar. They will try to switch the debate towards the second pillar without trying to reach the level of economic, monetary and even political integration which is required as part of the entire process. To what extent has Professor Dooge considered this aspect?

I am not sure to what extent consideration has been given to Europe and the world. When I was Minister for Foreign Affairs in the 1970s, there was a development co-operation programme for what are now the Asean countries. These have emerged as the key dynamic element in world economic development. The world has changed totally in the last 20 years. Do Professor Dooge's reflections take account of the fact that the core dynamic in the world economy has shifted from the time when developing groups received help from us, but they could now switch the tables on us and provide a certain degree of economic relief?

It is a great pleasure to hear the distinctive voice of Professor Dooge in the House again. I had the pleasure of serving under him and I remember the courteous and fair minded way he ran the House. It is a pleasure to have him back in the Seanad and I am sure all sides agree. I also join in the tribute to former Senator, Mr. Brendan Halligan. Whatever about Professor Dooge's and Mr. Halligan's party affiliations, they became the first Europeans in the sense that they were able to bury party differences and consider Europe.

I wish to pose the question which was also posed by Senator Lanigan. There is an old saying that we are all brothers until it comes to overtime. There was a clear indication from certain EU members that it was Britain's problem and it was on its own. Narrow national interests took over immediately, not just within the EU, but also within the UK. Overnight Scotland and Wales wanted to be independent in relation to beef. Where is the vision in this matter?

Professor Dooge said the Seanad is in touch with ordinary people, but they do not see a vision in terms of Europe. They see a Europe incapable of preventing the slaughter of men, women and children within its boundaries. On and within the borders of Europe they see deprivation and in some cases almost starvation, but the massive edifice cannot respond. These important issues must be considered. Young people, not just in Ireland but all over Europe, will not be led into an expanded Community by the incentive of 2 per cent off their mortgages. They are bigger than that and they have proved to their elders that they are more concerned about the environment, how we live with each other and the way we allow each other to live. At this stage, I do not see the leaders in Europe providing vision.

I also welcome Professor Dooge and his family and the paterfamilias of the IEA, Mr. Brendan Halligan. I am pleased they are in the House and I hope this historic initiative will continue and that other distinguished citizens of the calibre of Professor Dooge and Mr. Halligan will address the House.

I encourage Members to participate in the IEA. They should be aware that it operates under the Chatham House rule — things said at IEA meetings are in confidence. Thankfully in this case, journalists and politicians have honoured those rules and they have not been breached. It is important that a body with such intellectual excellence in a non partisan independent way exists.

My questions relate to two areas, one of which was touched on briefly. Professor Dooge was careful to be non-partisan and independent in his comments. He mentioned the opt-out clause, but I am worried about European Monetary Union and the implications for Ireland if sterling decides to remain outside. The other is to do with enlargement, which involves the broadening and deepening of the Union. How will we cope with the deepening in terms of the institutional framework bearing up? Will we have to sacrifice our Commissioner or have a Parliament of 2,000 members? How does Professor Dooge see developments in that regard? Is it consistent to argue that we will have broadening and deepening?

I join in welcoming professor Dooge. His address was very informative in pointing out the way forward. The question is the speed at which we will go forward. What is the significance for this country of the State not signing the charter for self local government and the failure to introduce the principle of subsidiarity?

I welcome Professor Dooge. Discussions such as this are a good idea. I want to deal with four issues — the Western European Union, the question of integration, the problems of expansion and of Germany's facing in a different direction, so to speak.

The Western European Union is assigned an extraordinary role in the common foreign and security policy. The Western European Union emerged from a failure of the European defence community arrangements in the 1950s. Can this body be taken seriously? It has a weak institutional framework and a peculiar chequered history. Would it not be more honest for Europe to go back to the original European defence community proposals?

On integration, I fear the widening of the Community is inconsistent with the concept of deepening. Although it may be politically incorrect, we have to ask if it is time to close the door to achieve what the founding fathers first intended — a deeper political, economic and monetary co-operation — before we go further. Expansion to a 27 member Union will raise fundamental difficulties for the size, shape and composition of the Commission, the size of the Parliament, the Council and the Court. The institutional impact of further expansion has not been addressed properly.

In recent times, particularly since reunification. Germany seems more interested in expansion to the east for the sake of it. Poland and Hungary would be a useful buffer for Germany.

I remind the Senator his time is up.

Germany is losing its previous well expressed and illustrated interest in integration. Is there a danger in that?

There are a number of other Senators who wish to speak.

Professor Dooge is right to say there has not been enough political debate.

I welcome Professor Dooge to the House and I am delighted to see Brendan Halligan in the Visitors Gallery. They have done tremendous work to further the cause of Europe in Ireland. I compliment the IEA for furnishing us with documentation and advising us of issues of interest to Ireland.

With regard to European Monetary Union, Professor Dooge said the country will follow economic policies which are to this country's advantage, and I agree with that view. Furthermore, he said if the British remain outside of European Monetary Union and continue to use their competitive devaluation advantage to the disadvantage to other member states that it could be dealt with. How can it be dealt with successfully? The exclusion from the social chapter in the Maastricht Treaty was not successfully managed. We have suffered as a result of exclusion while Britain has benefited.

Professor Dooge mentioned that the defence element of the common foreign and security policy will be difficult to address in the future. Does he believe there is a need for European co-ordination in relation to European peacekeeping? Does he believe the UN mandate in the former Yugoslavia could have worked without the support of the Western European Union and NATO? Does he agree there is a need in the long-term for a European co-ordinated defence policy independent of the Western European Union and NATO?

On a point of order, I suggest we allow Professor Dooge whatever time he requires to reply.

That was my intention and is why I am trying to keep speakers to the limit agreed.

I welcome Professor Dooge. What would he think about the idea of carrying out a public awareness campaign about the EU in Ireland? The Irish may be more aware of the EU than many other countries, but we need a public education programme to let people know about the institutions. It could be done in short clear programmes on TV, with Professor Dooge perhaps.

I welcome Professor Dooge. Chancellor Kohl made a strong statement recently on monetary union. A poll was taken in Great Britain which showed that 75 per cent were against monetary union and the single currency. How can we get over that difficulty, given that Britain is our major trading partner?

I read recently that if we joined the single currency our interest rates could fall by 2 per cent. That would be of advantage to mortgage holders. However, people of my age are worried less about mortgages and more about getting a return on our personal savings. What effect would there be on pension funds and unit trusts?

I welcome Professor Dooge to the House. My concern is with the issue of drugs. Prior to the opening of the borders potential problems with drug trafficking were flagged in advance. What does Professor Dooge think should be done about co-ordinating policing, drugs laws and the approach to the control of illegal drugs?

The recognition of professional, technical and vocational qualifications has been a serious problem in Europe. As it is important for the movement of labour, does Professor Dooge see much progress being made in that regard?

Professor Dooge

I thank the Members for their welcome and their patience in listening to me. I am not sure if I will thank them for the variety of questions thrown at me because it would take a considerable time to deal with them all. I will go through them briefly and perhaps the fact I do not answer all the questions may lead to curiosity on the part of Senators and they will worry out the replies for themselves.

That is a unique defence.

On another day perhaps.

Professor Dooge

I will not do what I have seen many Ministers do in this House, that is, to proceed to answer a long list of questions I was not asked.

Senator Lanigan, among others, adverted to the 2 per cent decrease in mortgage rates which I mentioned as one estimate and also as evidence that there is a link between what happens in Europe and what happens here, even when we do not see the link in the beginning. The important point is not the detail of how much the figure is. In making that comment I wanted to highlight not what the decrease would be here but the cardinal fact that the gap between lending and borrowing rates is substantially higher in Germany than here. By going our own way, without taking advantage of the stability of the Deutsche Mark, we are penalising ourselves. We must realise there is a distinct advantage in going into an economic and monetary union which will inherit the stability of the Deutsche Mark and be tied to it. It would have been impossible for this State when it was founded to be independent of sterling, even if it wanted to as a gesture of independence. We would probably not have survived economically in the twenties and thirties if we had followed that path, but we later became strong enough to do it. This is the essential point.

In answer to a question which came up several times, we must balance this advantage against the problems which will arise if we go into this system and Britain does not. We must begin debating what we will do, because we know a number of industries and economic sectors in Ireland depend largely on Britain — as was stated, 30 per cent of our exports go there. There is a general advantage to the community here in going into the system and a disadvantage to certain individuals if Britain does not follow. What should we do as a community and a democracy? We should devise methods to spread the load, so that if we do find ourselves in this position — and it is not certain that we will — those immediately affected will not have to carry all the burden. It is not beyond the wit of experts in this area to come up with such a scheme. That is why we want the debate to start early — we want ideas to emerge on points like this so they can be explained to and accepted by the public.

Senator O'Kennedy mentioned the internal cohesion of the original six member states, which broke down and was restored at the time of the Single European Act. During the ad hoc committee hearings on that Act, I managed to increase the six cohesive states to seven and we eventually dragged along the other three. That cohesion has been diluted again since then. This is a problem and it ties in with Senator Magner's point about vision, which is an essential matter. I have been guilty of some distortion in my address in not dealing with that point and concentrating on detail, because without the vision the whole thing is a failure. When we look at the political leaders of Europe today, we do not see the same vision which motivated the founding fathers. I thank God that Chancellor Kohl is there to remind us from time to time that this is a common project based on a vision. He has said he will be the last real European to be Chancellor of Germany. We should take advantage of the opportunities which exist while a man with a vision of Europe is head of this powerful state. We may have to make tough bargains, but we should make the best ones we can at this propitious time. Circumstances might not be so helpful in five or ten years time.

Senator O'Kennedy also said that an external threat was lacking. That is true in that there is not the same external threat but such threats do exist, which must make us think carefully as Europeans. There is a threat of instability on our borders — the Cold War is no more but nationalism and sectarianism are erupting and have wrought havoc in the former Yugoslavia.

Senator Dardis mentioned the opt-out clause and worries about economic and monetary union, which is a real problem. He also said we should concentrate on deepening rather than widening economic and monetary union because of the dilution which might occur here, and this is another reason to go ahead. The Intergovernmental Conference process is looking at the position, allowing first for the necessary deepening and, on that basis, widening. So from that point of view it is true. There are real questions about what the effect will be on our Commissioner, our representation and voting strength at the Council and our representation in Parliament. My opinion is that only one of these is vital — our seat at the Commission table. If we lose that, we might as well get out. Why should we submit to a common approach and to qualified majority voting at the Council where our vote, while it may be part of a winning coalition from time to time, is trivial by itself? We should submit because the structure of Europe is based on the role of the Commission and the sole right of initiative. We may not have many votes, but one cannot vote on an issue unless it comes forward through an initiative. The Commission is the guardian of the Union and of what remains of the original vision and what we supplement it with. The Commission is the key and our seat at its table is worth any number of Parliament seats and any voting sacrifice in the Council. If we lose in that regard, even people as enthusiastic as I am will lose hope about Ireland's role in Europe.

Senator Sherlock referred to the question of subsidiarity and raised a very important point. We are good at claiming subsidiarity in Brussels and stating that it is a sacred principle which must be defended. Do we believe in this principle, however, when a situation of opposition arises between county councils and the Custom House? Those with the power to determine policies and make key decisions suddenly lose their enthusiasm for subsidiarity in such circumstances. Before I served as a Member of this House, I was a member of a county council and fought for the independence of the County of Dublin against the City of Dublin which was attempting to walk all over us.

It is still going on.

Professor Dooge

I believe in subsidiarity right down the line.

Senator Roche raised the question of the Western European Union. As he stated, the Western European Union became quite weak at one point but was somewhat revived during the struggle between those who favoured a stronger European element in NATO and those who favoured strong trans-Atlantic ties. I would never support Irish membership of the Western European Union as it is currently constituted because it retains nuclear capability and can call on automatic common defence, which is intolerable in my opinion. Putting new command structures in place with regard to peacekeeping is a different matter. We had to request intervention from the Western European Union and the NATO command structure in the former Yugoslavia because we could not deal with the situation ourselves. The reality was that we could either request their assistance or do nothing. It was preferable that they were called in to help.

Senator Taylor-Quinn referred to the question of the opt-out clause from the Social Chapter and the fact that it is doing great harm to Ireland. I am not sure this is correct. The British Government insisted on opting out but many of the large industries in Britain follow the Social Chapter on a voluntary basis. It is worth considering this very interesting phenomenon. Many British firms believe that the Social Chapter is the correct route to follow and that it will create a loyal and productive workforce. I would not despair of a change of viewpoint in that regard. It can be stated that the opt-out clause gives a temporary manufacturing advantage. However, the way to cure it is not to return to Britain's level because we would then be compared with the Far East in terms of competitive disadvantage. I am not too pessimistic about this issue.

The question of public awareness, which is vitally important, was also referred to and could be discussed by the Seanad. Perhaps a resolution regarding television information campaigns, etc., might be tabled. I am aware that the Leader of the House feels that many demands are made on the time available for allocation to such debates. A discussion of this issue might prove worthwhile. I am sad that Senator Doyle is worried about his pension. However, I think I dealt with points he raised in relation to economic and monetary union and Chancellor Kohl.

Senator Henry referred to the issue of the recognition of diplomas, an issue which has been going on for quite some time. We in Ireland suffer from being within the shadow of the United Kingdom and outside the main tradition of educational structures at higher levels on the continent of Europe. This problem has been encountered in many areas and professions. The only answer lies in a combination of continuous agitation and patience. I believe the problem will be solved in the long term.

I have not dealt with all the points that Members raised. However, I hope my main address and replies to subsequent questions will encourage Members of the Seanad to treat this important issue in a serious manner. Again I must state how glad I am to have returned to this House. I assure Members that, having retired from public life on three occasions, the decision is final.

You are not coming back.

Professor Dooge

I will not contest the next Seanad election.

Thank you very much, Professor Dooge. I call on the Leas-Chathaoirleach, Senator Mullooly, to propose a vote of thanks.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

On behalf of the Members of Seanad Éireann I express our appreciation to Professor Dooge for an interesting and informative address. Those of us privileged to serve with him in the House would not have expected anything less. I thank him for accepting our invitation to address the Seanad. I assure him he has the best wishes of all Members in carrying out the onerous duties and fulfilling the important role he has undertaken on behalf of our country.