Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers. - EC Farm Spending.

Thursday, 18 October 1984

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 352 No. 12

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4.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Council of Ministers agreed to any binding agreement or policy statement to curtail the growth of farm spending below the average rate of growth of Community revenues or expenditure.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  There has been no agreement in the Foreign Affairs Council of the kind implied in the Deputy's question. The question of budgetary discipline was discussed briefly at the Council in Luxembourg on 2nd and 3rd of this month on the basis of a text received from the ECOFIN Council and it will be considered further by Ministers at a future meeting.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Would the Minister agree that there was a decision at the meeting in Dromoland Castle to reduce the share of EC spending on agriculture and to have a claw-back procedure? Would he agree also that acceptance of [2907] the principle of real cutbacks in the CAP, even if not legally binding, undermine both the CAP and Irish interests?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  We still think that the CAP policy should operate as designed by the Community. We are not at all in favour of the kind of binding discipline in agricultural spending that has been talked about. At the same time we must recognise that the Community is not a bottomless well and that we must play our part in ensuring that there is no wasteful expenditure if the Community is to advance, enlarge and become developed.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Is the Minister satisfied that, having regard to the decision made at Dromoland Castle——

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  There was no decision made there.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  It was reported by people who were there that there was a decision.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  As I said in my reply,

The question of budgetary discipline was discussed briefly at the Council in Luxembourg...

The Council of Foreign Ministers makes those decisions.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  I was not talking about agreement at the Foreign Affairs Council but about agreement reached at a meeting of the Finance Ministers at Dromoland Castle.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  There was no decision reached. A document produced by the Finance Ministers for forwarding to the Foreign Affairs Council has still not been agreed. It is to come before a meeting of ECOFIN later this month.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Would the Minister agree that the document to which he is referring contains the suggestion that there was a decision to reduce the share of EC spending on agriculture?

[2908]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  No. That predates the ECOFIN Council at Dromoland Castle. It goes back to the Fontainebleau agreement in June when a decision was made that on average over three years the amount devoted to the CAP should not exceed the growth in own resources. ECOFIN are responding to the document they produced at Dromoland.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Can the Minister say when the Foreign Affairs Council will be in a position to make a decision on this issue?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I had hoped that it would come forward from ECOFIN as an agreed document for next Monday's meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council but I understand that is not likely to be the case and that it may not come forward for some time later.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Can the Minister confirm that he does not agree with this curtailment and that this document was prepared by his colleague, the Minister for Finance, and pursued by him at the Finance Ministers meeting?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Minister for Finance presided about two weeks ago at an informal meeting of Finance Ministers in Dromoland Castle. One of the questions discussed there was how to implement the decision taken about growth in agricultural spending in the context of the Fontainebleau document. The Ministers drew up a number of guidelines in that regard but agreement was not forthcoming on all points from all the Ministers.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  But the point is that the Minister for Finance prepared the document.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  He prepared the technical detail. The political side of it is my concern.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a statement issued immediately after that meeting by the President of the Commission, Gaston [2909] Thorn? Has the Minister any comment on what the President had to say about the Finance Ministers' decision at Dromoland Castle?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I may have seen the statement but I do not recall it at the moment.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  I can tell the Minister that in that statement Gaston Thorn indicated his displeasure regarding the publicity being given to the decision arrived at at the Dromoland Castle meeting. He said that the Finance Ministers had totally overstepped their mark.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I did not read that remark, interesting though it seems.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Is the Minister serious in telling us that he did not see the statement of the President of the Commission, that nobody brought it to his attention?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I do not recall having seen it but I will look it up.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It was a major statement by Mr. Thorn.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Perhaps the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy would tell the Minister about it. It was reported in the Cork Examiner.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I wonder if the Deputies opposite are aware of what Senator Eoin Ryan had to say in the Seanad last evening. They are irresponsible if they are not so aware.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  We are talking about what Gaston Thorn said and the Minister for Foreign Affairs is telling us that he is not aware of that statement.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  There are statements made by people all over the world that I do not see.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  But there is only one President of the Commission.

[2910]Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  There is only one Senator Eoin Ryan.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  There is another Deputy Oliver Flanagan. We will keep an eye on Deputy Molony since we are told that he, too, is part of the little clique, that he is backing your man.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  We are not dealing with cliques or with Senator Eoin Ryan. I have called Question No. 5.

Mr. N. Andrews: Information on Niall Andrews  Zoom on Niall Andrews  The mongrel foxes are behind the Minister.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  It is nice to see Deputy Andrews, too, back from Corsica.


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