Thursday, 18 October 1984
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. G. 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: 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: 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  the principle of real cutbacks in the CAP, even if not legally binding, undermine both the CAP and Irish interests?
Mr. P. 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. P. 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. P. 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. P. 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: 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: 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. G. Collins: Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a statement issued immediately after that meeting by the President of the Commission, Gaston  Thorn? Has the Minister any comment on what the President had to say about the Finance Ministers' decision at Dromoland Castle?
Mr. G. 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.
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