Wednesday, 22 May 1974
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Keating: The measures taken by Italy, which have been authorised by the Commission of the EEC, are aimed at redressing a serious adverse balance of payments. In these circumstances and having regard to the nature and volume of our exports to Italy I do not consider that action of the kind suggested would be warranted.
Mr. Brennan: Is the Minister aware that a similar situation existed in relation to our exports to Britain some time ago—granted a much wider volume—but in the interests of maintaining our exports which are growing, I understand, to Italy would he not consider breaching the EEC regulations, as they did in imposing the levy, by subsidising our exports to enable those who have a foothold in the market to continue?
Mr. Keating: When this matter arose we certainly considered it but when we weighed the drawbacks against the potential advantages we decided that it was correct that no action should be taken by the Government. I might point out that at the time of the British action under the AIFTA Agreement 60 odd per cent or possibly a little more of our exports then went to the UK market while 2 per cent of our exports go to Italy. The action taken by the Italians has the agreement, if not the approval, of the Commission. The great danger and the overwhelming reason why it is right for us not to act at Government level, though of course the way is open for action by other agencies, is that were we to do so we could provide a pretext for actions by other members of the Community. There are seven others exporting into Italy who are much richer than we are, whose exports to Italy are much more important and who would be able to outbid us in this action, which would disrupt the whole free movement of goods inside the Community which is  already disrupted enough, indeed, in regard to agricultural produce. That would redound to the disadvantage of all of the members. It is a difficult situation for our exporters and we will give them every possible help but we cannot, at Government level, contemplate creating a precedent that would eagerly be followed by others, richer and stronger than we are.
Mr. J. Gibbons: Have any representations been made in our particularly vulnerable circumstances to the Commission in Brussels for measures to alleviate our small but rapidly growing exports of cattle and meat products to Italy?
Mr. Keating: I am not in a position to answer with certainty whether they have been made to the Commission because the role of the Commission was to examine the Italian proposals and say whether or not they conformed with the Treaty. Representations have been made to the Italian authorities, who are the prime movers in this context, by myself and also by, I understand, the Minister for Finance.
Mr. J. Gibbons: The Minister will accept that this must finally be dealt with by the Council of Ministers. I should have thought that it would be pointed out by our representation on the Council of Ministers that in our circumstances, with the growing trade of livestock products to Italy, possibly some alleviation could be given in our case as, indeed, was given to the Italians themselves in their difficulties with their agricultural products.
Mr. Keating: I understand that this representation has been made but the over-riding concern at this moment, and it is an over-riding concern of my own and I say it in view of my past opinions of the Community, and the over-riding responsibility now is to prevent an auction between the different countries which we cannot win.
|Last Updated: 14/09/2010 22:24:03||Page of 39|