Private Business. - Limerick Markets Bill, 1989: Report from the Examiner of Private Bills.
Private Business. - Request to move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 30.
Private Business. - Order of Business.
Private Business. - European Council Meeting: Statements.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Aer Lingus Subsidiary Losses.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - European Year of Tourism.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Tour Operators.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Swansea — Continental Europe Access Routes.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Bus Átha Cliath Subsidy.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Aer Lingus Development.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Transatlantic Air Services.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - CIE Workers Pay Increase.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Air Transport Policy.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Development of B & I.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Bed and Breakfast Operators.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - CIE Accounts.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Aircraft Insurance.
European Council Meeting: Statements (Resumed).
Adjournment Debate. - Insurance Cover Costs.
Adjournment Debate. - Prison Visiting Committees.
Written Answers. - Channel Tunnel Developments.
Written Answers. - Road Freight Licences.
Written Answers. - Appointment of Accident Investigation Officer.
Written Answers. - Access Transport Services.
Written Answers. - Soviet Trade.
Written Answers. - Flights from Shannon.
Written Answers. - Tax Rebate.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Subdivision of Land.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas.
Written Answers. - Unfair Dismissals.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefit.
Written Answers. - Increased Garda Numbers.
Written Answers. - Grant Payment.
Written Answers. - Meat Inspections.
Written Answers. - Influenza Epidemic.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary School Classification.
Written Answers. - Psychological Assessments.
Written Answers. - County Kildare Secondary School Facilities.
Written Answers. - Mayo Train Derailment.
 Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.
Report from the Examiner of Private Bills that in the case of the application for leave to introduce the Limerick Markets Bill, 1989, the Standing Orders have been complied with.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I move:
That the report be laid before the Dáil.
Question put and agreed to.
Mr. Dukes: Last evening I wrote to you to give you notice of my intention to move the Adjournment of the Dáil this morning, under the provisions of Standing Order 30, to discuss a specific and important matter of public interest requiring urgent consideration. The matter is as follows. On 25 April last, that is Wednesday of last week, the Tánaiste stated in this House that Ireland's application for an extension of the disadvantaged areas had been lodged in Brussels. I have since learned that that is  not the case and I conclude, therefore, that the Tánaiste misled the House on that occasion.
An examination of the record of the House shows that the Tánaiste made what we might call a gradually increasing level of commitment to something that was absolutely untrue. When first asked by my colleague, Deputy Sheehan, if the Cabinet had cleared Ireland's application for an extension of the disadvantaged areas, the Tánaiste replied at column 2357, volume 397 of the Official Report of Wednesday, 25 April: “That is very much there at the moment”. One wonders what that meant.
Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): A Lenihanism.
Mr. Dukes: He went on to say——
An Ceann Comhairle: There is no need for elaboration now.
Mr. Dukes: I believe I should illustrate to the House the nub of the matter. The Tánaiste went on to state: “We have taken all the recommendations made by Deputy Sheehan into account.” The Tánaiste was further asked by Deputy Sheehan “Has the Cabinet cleared the application to Europe, yes or no?”, to which the Tánaiste replied: “Yes”. My colleague, Deputy Noonan (Limerick East), the real Michael Noonan, asked: “Has it gone to Brussels?”, to which the Tánaiste replied: “I thought that was implicit in what I said.” Deputy Sheehan then asked: “Is it in Brussels at the moment?”, to which the Tánaiste replied:
It is there. We have made a representation to the European Community. It is now lodged in Brussels and involves a substantial enlargement of the disadvantaged areas. I hope that Deputy Sheehan and other Deputies from such areas in this country will be suitably accommodated.
An Ceann Comhairle: I think the  Deputy has made his point. That ought to be sufficient, Deputy Dukes.
Mr. N. Treacy: Very generous.
Mr. Dukes: My understanding of the position, Sir, is that the application has not been sent to Brussels. I further understand that the matter is to be considered by the Cabinet today with a view to sending it to Brussels.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have allowed the Deputy the fullest latitude to explain his position. I must now reply to him.
Mr. Dukes: I would like to communicate——
An Ceann Comhairle: I have given Deputy Dukes quite a lot of latitude.
Mr. Dukes: I conclude Sir——
Mr. Shatter: It is certainly not a presidential response.
Mr. Dukes: ——that on Wednesday of last week the Tánaiste misled the House. I believe that in accordance with the standards and traditions of this House the Tánaiste should today bare his breast, acknowledge the fact that he has misled the House and withdraw the comments he made on Wednesday of last week.
An Ceann Comhairle: First, I must rule on the matter before me in repect of the motion under Standing Order 30 in the name of Deputy Dukes. Having considered the matter fully I do not consider that it is one contemplated by Standing Order 30 and I cannot, therefore, grant leave to move the motion.
Mr. Dukes: Where it has been found that a member of the Government misled this House, the House has always granted the Member the opportunity of withdrawing the remark.
The Tánaiste: I regret that I had been misinformed about the exact position when I indicated to the House on Wednesday last that the proposals had been lodged in Brussels.
Mr. Dukes: Would the Tánaiste answer now as to——
Dr. Woods: Do not be so petty
Mr. Dukes: ——whether he misled the House.
The Taoiseach: I would like to explain that there is a question down to the Minister for Agriculture and Food today for written answer, the reply to which will fully explain the position.
Mr. Shatter: We will get the right answer today.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling the Order of Business.
Mr. Dukes: I appreciate the fact that there is a different question down. In plain and simple terms——
An Ceann Comhairle: I have given the Deputy and the House every opportunity of clarifying this matter. I am now calling on the Taoiseach for the Order of Business.
The Taoiseach: It is proposed that business shall be interrupted not later than 7 p.m. today.
Mr. Sheehan: In telling the House——
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Sheehan, please desist.
The Taoiseach: It is also proposed that statements on the outcome of the European Council meeting in Dublin on 28 April 1990 and developments in Europe  shall be made now and that, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the following arrangements shall apply:
Mr. Sheehan: A Cheann Comhairle——
An Ceann Comhairle: If you persist I must ask you to leave the House.
Mr. Sheehan: This is disgraceful conduct and I think the Tánaiste——
The Taoiseach: The statement of the main spokesperson for each of the groups shall not exceed 45 minutes; the statement of each other Member called on shall not exceed 20 minutes; and the statements shall conclude not later than 7 p.m.
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputies persist I will ask them to leave the House forthwith. Deputy Sheehan, resume your seat or leave the House.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will not tolerate this disorder for one moment longer. May I now ask if the proposal that business be interrupted at 7 p.m. today is agreed? Agreed. Are the arrangements for dealing with the statements agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Spring: I seek some clarification from the Taoiseach and, indeed, from the Minister for the Marine. As I understand it, the conduct of fishermen is now ruled by the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1987. I now seek clarification from the Taoiseach, who already promised this House that legislation would be brought in to amend or to withdraw that Act, when such legislation will be introduced? Can he also clarify whether until the legislation is introduced, the 1987 Act is still the law of the land?
An Ceann Comhairle: I am not so sure if legislation has been promised.
The Taoiseach: The simple answer is that legislation will be introduced this session.
Mr. Shatter: May I raise two matters briefly? I seek again to raise on the Adjournment the criteria that the Minister for the Environment intends to apply in sifting through the approximate 4,000 applications he has received for recreational and amenity grants. The second matter on which I would like to ask your assistance is that in yesterday's newspapers widespread publicity was given to the announcement made by the Minister for the Environment that he was extending the designated areas under the Urban Renewal Act. Even a map was published in the newspapers indicating new designated areas throughout different parts of the country. Neither yesterday nor today has information relating to this been lodged in the Library of this House. More seriously, under section 6 of the Urban Renewal Act, for the Minister to extend the designated areas, a formal order must be made. It is my information that no such orders have yet been made and I would ask the Taoiseach to clarify the position for Members of the House.
Mr. Dukes: More bluff.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy in respect of the first matter he has raised. I am not sure if the second matter is in order now.
Mr. Shatter: On a point of order, an announcement has been made which will have a substantial impact throughout the length and breadth——
An Ceann Comhairle: If, for clarification, the Deputy puts down a question concerning the matter——
Mr. Shatter: Either the Government are extending the designated areas or they are not.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not a matter for legislation.
Mr. Shatter: Under the legislation the Minister would have to make a formal order under the Urban Renewal Act. It is a matter of legislation. Section 6 of the Act requires that.
An Ceann Comhairle: This is leading to long argument.
Mr. Shatter: There is no order for it on today's Order Paper. I would ask the Taoiseach when will the order be made, when will it be placed on the Order Paper?
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling Deputy De Rossa.
Mr. Shatter: It is a serious matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have afforded the House a chance of having matters clarified. The Deputy must deal with this in a more formal manner.
Mr. Shatter: Clearly, the Taoiseach does not wish to clarify the matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Shatter.
Mr. Dukes: On a point of order, this House passed legislation that requires certain things to be done by the Minister in order to give effect to the provisions of the Act in question. The Minister has now gone on public record as saying that he is doing certain things under that Act, which he is not allowed to do without making an order. The House deserves to know, the House has a right to know and everybody who is affected by these orders has a right to know, if an order was made, if not, when will it be made and when will this House be able to see that order? The Government are flying by the seat of their pants and are not telling the rest of the country what they are doing or why. They are making a publicity stunt of the issue.
Mr. Dukes: We simply want to know when will the order be made and when will it be laid before this House.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling Deputy De Rossa.
Mr. Shatter: The Dáil is being treated with contempt.
Mr. Dukes: A Cheann Comhairle——
An Ceann Comhairle: Sorry Deputy Dukes, I cannot compel any Member of this House to speak if he or she does not wish to do so.
Mr. Dukes: This House is being treated with contempt.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are many ways of securing clarification of this matter and I would advise Deputy Shatter to do so in a more formal way. He knows how to proceed.
Mr. Dukes: We have a published statement by the Government saying certain things are going to be done. It has not been backed up by an order. This House deserves to know now, and it would take two seconds for the Minister or the Taoiseach to say when this order is going to be made.
A Deputy: It is not in order to say——
The Taoiseach: Time and time again Ministers make announcements and subsequently make either orders or legislate to give effect to their announcements of policy. There is nothing in the slightest unusual in that procedure, and in regard to this or any other matter, the necessary orders that require to be made on any issue of policy will be made and the Whips can decide when they will be taken by this House.
Mr. Shatter: On a point of order——
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Shatter,  I am proceeding to other business now. I have called Deputy De Rossa on a number of occasions. I have been frustrated——
Mr. Shatter: There are maps being distributed. When they are lucky enough to have their property in designated areas——
Proinsias De Rossa: I want to raise two items here this morning. One relates to the first firm news that has been announced regarding the safety of Brian Keenan and I want to ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will take an opportunity to tell the House some time today what steps he is taking, now that we know for definite that Brian Keenan is safe, to seek his release.
I seek to raise on the Adjournment the conditions and treatment of adults, who suffer from autism, by the health boards and to ask what steps the Minister is taking to rectify the appalling conditions these people face at present.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy in respect of the second matter to which he has adverted.
Mr. Gilmore: I seek your permission to raise on the Adjournment the report that Carysfort College is to be resold within ten days and that the Minister for Education has so far failed to respond to an offer which would enable the State to purchase the college.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning the matter.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I have been seeking for some time that the Government make time available in this House for a debate on our prison system, on penal reform and in particular on the recommendations of the Whitaker report. I wonder whether the Taoiseach has given consideration to that request and if he will now indicate whether such time will be made available for a full, constructive  and comprehensive debate on that matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: I thought the Deputy had something legitimate to raise now.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Do I take it that the Taoiseach is not giving an answer to my request? I understood from him in the past when I raised it with him that he would consider it and I was anticipating he would be in a position to give me a reply.
Mrs. Fennell: I would like to raise on the Adjournment the delay in publishing the 1988 Mountjoy Prison report and the delay in reappointing the visiting committee.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.
A Deputy: The silent President of Europe.
Tomás Mac Giolla: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the crisis that has arisen in the Rowlagh health centre. Due to shortage of community welfare officers new claimants are not being dealt with and the health centre has been taken over by local people at the moment. I wish to ask the Minister for Health to intervene urgently in that.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. Garland: I seek once again to raise on the Adjournment the scandalous situation in the operation of the Garda Complaints Board in that they are now a year behind with cases.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning that matter.
Mr. Quinn: Let me, through you Sir, ask the Minister for the Environment if he has finalised the regulations in relation to the prohibition on the sale of bituminous coal in the Dublin area, and if  the standards in relation to that type of coal have been communicated to the various wholesalers.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning the matter.
Mr. Quinn: Since this is a matter of legislation by way of regulation I was wondering if the Minister has brought forward those regulations or when he proposes to do so.
An Ceann Comhairle: There is a distinct difference between legislation and regulations. Perhaps a Dáil question would elicit the information you require.
Mr. Quinn: This question has been dealt with before. Regulations are secondary legislation. The Minister has promised to publish these regulations. He has promised in this House to issue them as soon as possible. I am simply asking now, has “possible” arrived and can he indicate to the House when they will be told?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should raise the matter in a more formal way.
Mr. J. Mitchell: I would like to raise on the Adjournment the crisis in the supplementary welfare service in the Eastern Health Board area and in particular the failure of the Minister for Social Welfare to approve extra community welfare officers.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning the matter.
Mr. Durkan: I seek your permission to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of Question No. 181 of 25 April last and the possible implications for persons who have made application for benefit of one kind or another.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning the matter.
Mr. McCormack: I wish to ask the Taoiseach before the Cabinet sends a submission about the severely handicapped areas to Brussels later this week to ensure that all south Galway, so badly affected by flooding, will be included in that submission as promised by the local Minister of State.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning the matter.
Mr. Sheehan: Is he sure he is going to Brussels?
Mr. Hogan: I seek to raise on the Adjournment the difficulties being experienced by consumers in getting insurance cover at reasonable cost.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. Spring: I seek your permission to raise on the Adjournment the dramatic increase in local authority housing lists and the Government's failure to do anything about it.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will be in touch with the Deputy concerning that matter. Let us proceed to the Order of Business proper.
Mr. Sheehan: I would like to raise on the Adjournment the serious situation as regards the thousands of farmers who are still awaiting payment of their cattle headage grants for 1989.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.
The Taoiseach: A special meeting of the European Council took place at my invitation in Dublin Castle on 28 April. I presided over the meeting with the assistance of my colleague Deputy Gerard Collins, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. A copy of the Presidency Conclusions and related documents has been  circulated to Deputies for convenience of references and placed in the Library in the usual way.
We had a very successful meeting and a number of important decisions were made. Directions were given in areas of vital importance for the future of Europe: there was a warm welcome for German unity and procedures were agreed which will ensure the smooth integration of the territory of the German Democratic Republic into the Community; the end of 1992 was set as the target date before which ratification of the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference on Economic and Monetary Union which will open in December 1990 should take place; the European Council made a firm commitment to political union, and asked the Foreign Ministers to prepare proposals so that a decision can be made at the June European Council in Dublin on the holding of a second intergovernmental conference to run in parallel with the Conference on Economic and Monetary Union, with a view to ratification by member states within the same time frame; the necessity for developing a wider framework of peace, security and co-operation for all of Europe was recognised, and guidelines were agreed for participation by the Community and the member states in all proceedings and discussions within the CSCE; the European Council expressed support for the fullest use and further expansion of close transatlantic relations and endorsed the arrangements for meetings at the highest and other levels agreed between President Bush and myself at the White House in February; and the Community agreed to extend the present aid arrangements to Poland and Hungary within the framework of the Group of 14 to the other five Eastern European countries, and to conclude negotiations on association agreements with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as soon as possible.
Before looking at each of these areas in some detail, I would like to say a few words about the background to this special meeting of the European Council. We are living through a major formative  period in European history; a time during which the future of the Continent and its people will be settled for a long time to come. The leaders of the Community have the major responsibility of providing the people of Europe with enlightened leadership at this time of decision.
It was with a clear awareness of these realities that we approached the agenda of this Summit, keeping clearly in our minds the central role and responsibility of the Community in the affairs of Europe. The Community is the focal point of stability in Europe, the principal source of hope for peace, democratic freedom and economic betterment for all the people of the Continent.
The dramatic pace of events in Eastern Europe, therefore, and especially the rapid progress towards German unity, led me as President to propose in February to my colleagues, the Heads of State and Government, that this special meeting of the European Council be held in April. This meeting would be in addition to the regular European Council meeting, which is scheduled in the normal way for Dublin at the end of June. Its principal task will be to consider the implications for the Community of German unification, and of developments generally in Central and Eastern Europe, and at the same time to reaffirm our commitment to the Community's own integration process.
As I stated in my letter of invitation sent on 16 February to my fellow Heads of State or Government, it was extremely important that the Twelve bring their collective voice to bear on the issues now arising, and that steps be taken to develop the Community's own integration process, and also that the demands that will be made on the Community in the new Europe would be taken into account.
I would like to review briefly some of the principal developments that have taken place since the beginning of the year. We began our EC Presidency with a comprehensive meeting between the Irish Government and the EC Commission to establish the agenda and the  priorities for our Presidency. That meeting enabled Ministers to meet their counterparts in the Commission and develop an understanding on how best to co-operate in advancing the Presidency work programme.
At the special meeting of EC Foreign Ministers which we convened in January, the Community expressed support for the process of liberalisation in Central and Eastern Europe, and agreed in principle to a meeting of the CSCE later this year. A positive response was also given to requests for economic aid from Eastern Europe.
At the end of February, I visited Washington as President of the European Council with the purpose of seeking to strengthen the political relationship between the European Community and the United States. I am glad to say that I was able to reach agreement with President Bush for the holding, in each Presidency, of one meeting between the US President and the President in office of the European Council. In addition, there will be two meetings in each year between EC Foreign Ministers and the US Secretary of State.
At Ashford Castle at the end of March, the Finance Ministers of the Community had a first detailed discussion of the final stages of economic and monetary union. At this meeting, there was a considerable degree of agreement reached on the design of a future economic and monetary union, and on the general principles on which it should be based, including policies to promote cohesion.
Not just European, but international attention has been focused on events in Germany as they unfolded. Free elections have taken place in March in the German Democratic Republic and the first democratically elected Government there have now taken office. Practical steps have commenced to implement the economic and monetary union of the two German states, from the beginning of July. The impending unification of Germany and the incorporation of what is now the territory of the GDR into the Community have profound political and  economic implications for all the member states, and for the Community as a whole.
In preparation for last Saturday's Summit, I undertook a tour of all the EC capitals over recent weeks to discuss with the other Heads of State and Government their priorities and their views on the agenda for this special European Council meeting in Dublin. Careful preparation and full consultation were essential if the maximum benefit was to be obtained from the special one-day meeting and if the real progress that was expected was to be achieved.
During these bilateral meetings I found broad agreement in regard to the unification of Germany, the developments in Central and Eastern Europe, and their implications for the Community. We discussed the need for the Community to move more rapidly toward political union, and many of my colleagues were anxious to see rapid progress in this area.
Arising out of this, President Mitterrand of France and Chancellor Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany sent me a joint letter on 19 April, indicating that, in the light of the far-reaching changes in Europe, the completion of the Single Market and the realisation of economic and monetary union they considered it necessary to accelerate the political construction of the Europe of the Twelve. I have circulated the text of the letter to Deputies, and I would like to direct their specific attention to the exact terms of two aspects of the proposals by the Chancellor and the President, in view of some misleading comments which have been made in relation to the outcome of the Summit. Their letter clearly set out the procedure which the President and Chancellor suggested should be followed. Firstly, they suggested, and I quote: “The Foreign Ministers should be instructed to prepare an initial report for the meeting of the European Council in June and to submit a final report to the European Council meeting in December.” That is exactly what the Summit last Saturday decided. The meeting did not sidestep elaborating  proposals for political union, as it was never envisaged that it should do so. Similarly, the Summit did not shy away from fixing a date for the Intergovernmental Conference on Political Union, as this had not been suggested by anyone. On the contrary, what had been suggested was that the Intergovernmental Conference on Political Union be held parallel with the Conference on Economic and Monetary Union, when the date for that conference was fixed, in order that ratification by national parliaments of the economic and monetary union reforms and the political union reforms would be carried through within the same time scale. This was in fact agreed.
Approaching the Summit I had a strong belief that it was important that it should provide reassurance on the economic and financial consequences of German unity for the Community. This reassurance was necessary in particular for the business world and the financial markets, because of the speculation that had taken place, and the Council provided it.
The meeting began with a presentation by the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Enrique Baron. He stressed the urgency of completing the Single Market, the need for Community involvement in the process of German unification and of Europe-wide solutions to the consequences arising from it, and finally the importance of achieving genuine political union, including an enhanced parliamentary role, by a set date.
At the European Council, we expressed our deep satisfaction at the developments in Central and Eastern Europe since the Strasbourg European Council, and applauded the continuing process of change in these countries with whose peoples we share a common heritage and culture. We considered that the historic changes bring closer the realisation of a Europe emerging from a long period of ideological confrontation, which would be united in its commitment to democracy, pluralism and the rule of law, with full respect for human rights,  and the principles of the market economy.
Europe now stands on the threshold of an age in which it can achieve new levels of economic growth and resume its world role of intellectual and cultural leadership, as it leaves behind the dreary barren years of the post-war period. A unique opportunity exists today to create a European family of nations sharing a common civilisation and values, but the transition will inevitably be difficult, and will require major political, economic and social co-operation between the Community and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as they seek to build a new future. The people of Central and Eastern Europe need every help and encouragement we can give. They need the anchor of stability that the Community can provide. It must also be appreciated that an enormous transformation has already taken place which would have been difficult to imagine even a short time ago, and that the pace may not always continue with such rapidity. We must do everything possible to encourage patient negotiated solutions to the difficult problems of relations between and within states.
The Council and the Community warmly and unreservedly welcomed German unification. We look forward to the positive and fruitful contribution that all Germans can make when the GDR is integrated with the Community. We are confident that German unification, which is coming about as a result of the freely expressed wish of the German people, will be a positive factor in the development of Europe and of the Community.
I consider this statement to be a very important one. First of all, it is an expression of solidarity by the Community with a member state at one of the most important moments in its history. The Federal Republic of Germany has played a key role in the development of the European Community, showing a commitment to European integration second to none. Indeed, we in Ireland are conscious of the many occasions that the Federal Republic has shown solidarity with smaller and less developed  member states. It is my conviction that a united Germany will have the capacity to sustain the economic growth required to support the regeneration of the economy of the present GDR, but also at the same time to strengthen and deepen the cohesion of the Community and that it will make a key contribution to a new and closer European Union.
Our meeting was of special significance for the German people. At our joint press conference on Saturday evening in Dublin Castle, Chancellor Kohl called the meeting an historic occasion, and thanked the Presidency, the Commission and other colleagues for the warmth and friendship shown to the German people on this occasion.
The Council went on to say that a stage has been reached, where the continued dynamic development of the Community has become imperative, because it is a crucial element in the progress that is being made in establishing a reliable framework for peace and security in Europe. We therefore agreed to take further decisive steps towards European unity.
The Council expressed it satisfaction that German unification is taking place under a European roof. The Community will ensure that the integration of the territory of the GDR would be accomplished in a smooth and harmonious way. This integration will take place without revision of the Treaties, as soon as German unity is legally established. We expressed satisfaction also that this integration will contribute to faster economic growth in the Community, and agreed that it will take place in conditions of economic balance and monetary stability. This settlement I would regard as one of the most important conclusions to emerge from the meeting.
The Federal Government will keep the Community fully informed of measures being taken to align policies and legislation in the two parts of Germany, and the Commission will be fully involved with these discussions, so that transitional measures can be proposed to the Council  and decisions taken quickly. The aim will be full integration as rapidly as possible, and in the period prior to unification, the GDR will benefit from a range of Community loan instruments, as well as Community support in the context of the co-ordinated assistance of the group of 24 countries for the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe.
I consider these arrangements to be highly satisfactory from every point of view. We are welcoming 16 million people into the Community, who, I am convinced, will make a very valuable contribution. No revision of the treaties or lengthy negotiations are required. The fact that the Community will be kept fully informed of agreements between the two German states, and that the Commission will be closely involved with the work ensures that practical difficulties can be dealt with. Transitional measures, taking effect from unification, will permit a balanced integration based on the principles of cohesion and solidarity, and on the need to take account of all the interests involved. Derogations from Community regimes will be permitted during the transitional period but they must be kept to the minimum required so that full integration can take place as rapidly and harmoniously as possible.
As Chancellor Kohl has made plain again and again both in Brussels, at my meeting with him in Bonn on 28 March, during the council meeting and at our press conference afterwards, there is no question of the EC's Structural Funds that have been committed to the peripheral and less developed member states being in any way diverted to East Germany. Naturally, when the GDR is fully integrated into the Community in due course, at that stage they will qualify to benefit from EC funds and programmes to the extent that they fulfil the objective criteria, and the necessary arrangements will have to be made without prejudice to existing commitments.
In our detailed discusion on the implications of German unity, both with regard to the timetable envisaged and the issues likely to arise, we had the benefit  of an excellent Commission analysis based on very full information received from the German Government. The Commission President, Jacques Delors, identified three phases of the GDR's integration into the Community. Phase 1 would follow internal German economic and monetary union, the second, the transitional phase, would follow political unification, and the final phase would be the stage when Community law applied to all Germany without exception. The German Chancellor stated that he would ensure a constant flow of information, and stressed that the process towards European unity and German union are intimately linked, and in fact being addressed at the same time. He made it clear that the Federal Republic was not looking for aid, and certainly not at the expense of other countries' entitlements and that the best contribution the Community could make would be sensible transitional measures. There are obviously a number of important issues, such as access to GDR markets, the application of State aids, agriculture and fisheries, which will have to be carefully studied in order to find the most suitable transitional measures and adaptations.
With regard to the more general economic consequences of German unity, as I have remarked on a number of occasions, the Federal Republic has the strength and the resources, and of all the member States is perhaps most ideally equipped to take on a huge task of this kind. The German economy is in excellent shape with 4 per cent growth and the highest number employed in German history. The commitment of the German authorities to monetary stability, to low inflation, to the lowest interest rates consistent with that objective and to balanced economic development is well known. The fears that have been expressed about the economic and financial consequences of German unity are, therefore, misplaced.
A united Germany, for some time to come, will present an important market to its partners. Since 1987, the Irish Government have put in place a co-ordiating committee for Germany under the  chairmanship of our Ambassador in Bonn to promote trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between Ireland and Germany.
Last year our exports to the Federal Republic increased by 18 per cent to £1.6 billion, with a trade balance of £500 million in our favour. The number of German visitors to Ireland increased by 37 per cent last year. The overall level of German investment interest in Ireland is in no way diminishing, indeed significant investment is taking place in the software and financial services sectors. There will also be new opportunities in Germany for Irish constuction firms,. The German Government have made it clear on many occasions that they welcome the participation by partners in the enlarged market that German unity and the process towards unification will provide. A dynamic united Germany will certainly add to the growth rate of the Community. The commission believe that it will be as much as ½ per cent a year. It is generally believed that in a relatively short time what is now East Germany will have a flourishing economy and that the entire EC will benefit as a result.
In parallel with the process of the unification of Germany, the Community is pressing ahead with its internal and external development. Work on completing the Single Market will continue. Some 60 per cent of the necessary legislation has been passed and we are generally on target. I would like to emphasise that the momentum of work on completing the Internal Market has been fully maintained during the Irish Presidency. The Internal Market Ministers meeting informally in March in Dromoland Castle agreed that “substantial progress has been made and the pace is still good”. The European Council in Dublin expressed satisfaction with progress achieved so far towards establishing the Single Market. During the next few weeks, there will be two Internal Market Councils, and we also expect important decisions to be adopted in the area of energy procurement, air transport liberalisation, communications, insurance,  clean cars, a public procurement enforcement directive, testing and certification of products, food standards, animal and plant health and right of residence.
The Council confirmed that the Community will establish in stages economic and monetary union, in accordance with the principles of economic and social cohesion and the conclusions of the European Councils in Madrid and Strasbourg. It was confirmed that preparations would be intensified, so as to allow the InterGovernmental Conference, opening in December 1990, to conclude its work rapidly. As I noted earlier, substantial progress has already been made towards EMU in the course of our Presidency, particularly at the Ashford Castle meeting, and the European Council took a further important step beyond the decision made at its meeting in Strasbourg in December by laying down a target date now for ratification of treaty changes before the end of 1992.
The implications of the Single Market and of EMU are enormous. I believe they can be highly beneficial for Ireland, provided we maintain tight economic discipline at home, and negotiate the necessary continuing measures to support the achievement of cohesion in the Community. A Community of 340 million people, without barriers or restrictions to trade and with a combined purchasing power of over £3,000 billion, will be the largest economic entity in the world, and is likely to be the most dynamic. As part of it, Ireland can be a successful and profitable location for industry and services, selling into the wider European market.
Membership of the EMS has enabled us to maintain below average inflation, and interest rates several points below those of our nearest neighbour, Great Britain. The different stages of EMU will lead to closer co-ordination of economic and monetary policies, and far from removing our responsibility for the sound management of our affairs it will reinforce it. The maintenance of strict budgetary discipline and low inflation will be essential for economic success in a  united Europe. As a member of the Community we can take part in decisions affecting us internationally, which we would not be in a position to do outside it.
In many ways the most important result of our meeting was that the European Council confirmed its commitment to political union. This decision was taken unanimously. It seems to me that it derives from the proposition that economic and monetary union without a supportive political framework would be difficult to sustain.
The European Council agreed that the Foreign Ministers should carry out a detailed examination on the need for possible treaty changes involved in: strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the union; enabling the Community and its institutions to respond efficiently and effectively to the demands of the new situation; and assuring unity and coherence in the Community's international action.
The Council also asked the Foreign Ministers to put forward a range of proposals rather than one specific model of a structure for political union. The Council at its June meeting will discuss and assess these proposals. The Foreign Ministers in their report will obviously cover such matters as the respective role and functions of the Community institutions, the balance and coherence between them, ways of reinforcing the Community's voice internationally, and ways of strengthening internal cohesion.
Thus, we have succeeded in Dublin in establishing a parallel process whereby all the key decisions on the Single Market, economic and monetary union and political union will be taken before the end of 1992. Bearing in mind that German unification will be taking place at the same time, not to mention other developments which I will come to, we are talking about an unprecedented strengthening and transformation of the entire Community. This is clearly an exciting time which holds much for the future of the peoples of Europe. An enormous responsibility rests on all of us to ensure that it is handled successfully.
 There is widespread support for the view that political union must fully respect the principle of subsidiarity. This principle is intended to ensure that those functions best carried out at national or regional level will continue to be dealt with at that level, with matters which require common action and which can best be dealt with at Community level being entrusted to the appropriate Community institutions and procedures.
I would also like to emphasise that our discussions at present relate to an economic, social and political Community. With regard to security, as I understand the position of our Community partners, it is that they wish the NATO alliance and their membership of it to continue. They also wish to have the US to continue to be involved in European defence through the NATO alliance. It is in that forum that they discuss defence and military matters.
The Community's relations with other countries and groups of countries have steadily grown in importance, in parallel with the internal strengthening of the Community. The Council stated that the Community will act as a political entity on the international scene, open to good relations with other countries and groups of countries. As the Council noted, the progress towards the restoration of freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe, and the prospects of a successful conclusion to arms reduction negotiations, make it possible and necessary to develop a wider framework of peace, security and co-operation throughout Europe. The CSCE provides such a framework and the Community and its member states will play a leading role in all proceedings and discussions within the CSCE and in efforts to establish new structures or agreements based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, while maintaining existing member states' security arrangements. I would like to draw attention to the explicit affirmation about the maintenance of the existing security arrangements of member states, which of course includes ourselves.
The Helsinki Final Act of the CSCE made a very significant contribution to  the reduction of tensions in Europe and to the bringing about of a situation which has enabled the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to actively pursue political freedom and democratic government. At present, the CSCE represents a very important mechanism for the development of a new framework of security and co-operation in Europe. Every country in Europe, with the exception of Albania, along with the US and Canada are members of this 35 nation conference. Its primary role is to build confidence and co-operation, and within the CSCE framework, security has come to have a much broader meaning than just military armaments and defence. It embraces political and economic aspects as well. Ireland will play a full part along with its Community partners in the CSCE process and in whatever future arrangements for the security of Europe that can be agreed. We will, as a member of the European Community, take part in any security and confidence building arrangements embracing Europe as a whole agreed within the CSCE.
The European Council agreed draft guidelines on the Community's approach to the CSCE, and noted that there is wide agreement on the desirability of convening a Summit meeting of the CSCE participating states before the end of the year. The necessary decisions need to be taken, so as to ensure that the preparations essential for a successful outcome are completed in good time. The Twelve are proposing a Preparatory Committee meeting starting in July, and that the Summit itself take place in Paris. As the Foreign Ministers meeting in Dublin on 20 February stated, the Twelve envisage a balanced development of the CSCE, including the development of pluralist democracy, human rights, better protection of minorities, human contacts, security, economic co-operation, the environment, further co-operation in the Mediterranean and cultural co-operation. The Summit will enable consideration to be given to new institutional arrangements within the CSCE process, including the possibility of regular consultative meetings of Foreign Ministers  and the establishment of a small secretariat. Already, there has been a positive outcome from the Bonn Conference on Economic Co-operation in Europe, which acknowledged the link between political pluralism and market economies, and a meeting will take place in June on the human rights dimension in Copenhagen. The Twelve also look forward to an early successful conclusion to the negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. To sum up, the CSCE represents a very important opportunity to establish on firm foundations stable, peaceful and democratic government with full respect of human rights across the whole of Europe.
The European Council welcomed the wide range of measures through which the Community will assist the countries of Central and Eastern Europe; the establishment of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the conclusion of trade and co-operation agreements between the Community and most of these countries, the Community's programmes on professional, trading or student exchanges which are soon to be finalised. It is obvious that the development of the Eastern European economies will greatly depend on the flow of private investment for their success. For this reason the European Council wished to encourage the transfer of private capital and investment towards these countries, and asked the Commission to study the implementation of the most appropriate accompanying measures. The Council agreed that action within the framework of the Group of 24 should be extended to the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Rumania. Discussions are to start forthwith on association agreements with each of the Central and East European countries, especially tailored to the needs and circumstances of each individual country. The agreements will include an institutional framework for political dialogue. We fixed the objective of concluding those agreements as soon as possible, on the understanding that the basic conditions with regard to the principles  of democracy and a transition towards a market oriented economy are fulfilled.
From these measures it can be seen that the Community has taken a leading role in supporting the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe so as to under-pin their political and economic structures.
The European Council reaffirmed that the Community attaches great importance to, and will work actively for, early agreement with our EFTA partners on the establishment of a European economic area. Negotiations with the EFTA countries, Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, who are now seeking a new and closer relationship with the Community must not be overlooked in the excitement over other developments. These countries have a combined population of about 32 million, have firmly founded democratic institutions, and include some of the economically most developed countries in Europe.
The establishment of a new European economic area would undoubtedly both enlarge the market and create increased competition for the member states of the Community. The draft mandate for the negotiations is practically finalised by the Commission, on the basis of which negotiations can proceed. The EFTA countries attach great importance to this, but there are undoubtedly difficult issues to be resolved, particularly in the area of decision making.
The European Council affirmed that the Community would make the fullest use of and further develop its close transatlantic relations based on regular contacts at the highest levels. My colleagues expressed their satisfaction with the understanding I reached as President of the European Council with the President of the United States on the holding of a meeting at that level during each country's Presidency together with other regular meetings involving the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, and including meetings with the Commission. I believe we have, in this way, opened a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and the European Community,  and that the meetings that will take place as a result of this agreement will in the future be of vital importance in maintaining a close transatlantic entente and enhancing EC-US political and economic ties.
The Community also confirmed that it would pursue and intensify its relations with the Mediterranean countries, with Japan, Canada and Australia and other members of the OECD, and with the countries of Asia and Latin America, and its special relationship with the ACP countries.
The European Council also expressed its serious concern about the threat posed by the illegal trade in drugs. It asked the high level co-ordinators group to report with a view to bringing before the European Council in June measures that would form part of vigorous action by the Community and member states against drug abuse and the illicit production, distribution and sale of narcotic drugs.
To sum up, the results of our special European Council meeting in Dublin were substantial and positive. I believe that the first 1990 Dublin Summit will be looked back on as a significant point of departure in the history of Europe. A feature of this particular Summit was the harmonious atmosphere that prevailed throughout and greatly facilitated the constructive and fruitful discussions that took place. A clear strategy has now been adopted for the integration of the GDR into the Community, the future development of the Community itself, for its relations with the other countries in Europe, with the United States and the other countries of the world. The Community now has an extremely ambitious agenda. It has committed itself firmly to political union and there are now firm grounds for believing that the way is open for the achievement of lasting peace and prosperity throughout the whole of our European continent.
Mr. Barry: Last week's Summit of the European Heads of Government was called initially to discuss German unification and to assess its implications for the future development of the European  Community. It was only during the ten days prior to the conference that political union of the European Community was added to the agenda. It appears that political union took over and the very important, urgent and immediate question of the unification of Germany and its effect on the Community did not receive the attention I believe it warrants.
One of the objectives of the meeting was to reaffirm the necessity for the Twelve member states of the European Community to consult and act collectively. Yet immediately after the Summit the German Chancellor said that the future arrangements regarding Berlin, the security of Germany, will be conducted by what is called the “two-plus-four”, that is the two parts of Germany and the four — France, Britain, the Soviet Union and America. Yet two of those are not even part of the European Community. The Council of Ministers handed over to those six countries the right to discuss a fact that would have a major implication for the whole Twelve Members of the Community. At a time when the Community is moving towards closer economic and political union it is vital that the notion of collective strategy and purpose is recognised by all member states. The results of the Summit indicate that this point was not stressed. The agenda of the meeting was very skilfully steered away from what I understood — which is a fact and what was originally called for — to have been one of its objectives, to discuss the impact on the Community of German unification and move toward the longer-term, very important, difficult to grapple with, problem of political union. This was borne out clearly from the press conference given by the Taoiseach, the British Prime Minister and Chancellor Kohl afterwards.
We need to clarify what greater political union means but we must do so in the context of a whole range of changed circumstances and relationships. The ramifications of German unification are profound and rapid. The member states of the European Community must take account of this change and devise a common approach. It has not been  treated with sufficient seriousness by this Government, by other member states of the Community or to the degree I believe it warrants. If I might para-phrase Mark Twain — the rumours of the success of last Saturday's Summit have been greatly exaggerated by the Taoiseach here today and by the press briefings which he and his Ministers gave afterwards.
Mr. Barry: Indeed they were. The ability of the European Council meetings to be an effective decision-making mechanism will determine the future success of the European Community. The Taoiseach spoke here again this morning of the harmonious relationship that existed during the course of the Summit. I do not think that is a good thing. Past Summit meetings were characterised by cries and drama related to real, crucial issues which the European Community Council were discussing on Saturday last. We are told there was a harmonious atmosphere even though the approach by member states should have been and was different, but that did not emerge; it was swept aside, put under the carpet.
The communiqué was bland and general, posed more questions than it provided answers, as did the Taoiseach's comments in the House this morning. The Summit last Saturday did not appear to have any sense of urgency, hardly seemed to recognise the task facing the European Community over the next decade, particularly in relation to German unification. The Taoiseach has said that the EC has firmly, decisively and categorically committed itself to political union. But its attendant problems were not addressed at all except for the fact that the Foreign Ministers were asked to bring forward a shopping list of possible forms of political union by the meeting in December next. Too many of the problems obtaining were not addressed by that Summit. Indeed the Foreign Ministers deserve from their Heads of State more guidance in that regard than they  received on Saturday last. For example, they deserve more guidance in relation to the Single European Act, the effect and implications of the Single European Market by 1992, monetary union, single currency, single foreign policy, security of defence — to which I will revert later because the Taoiseach glossed over that here this morning — and, of course, the very important point from Ireland's point of view — cohesion; how we will be affected. Will there be a marker put down by the Government to say that any form of political union in the future can take place only after the economic development of the Community is restored so that those areas on the periphery are brought up to the standard of the countries in the centre.
The Community is facing two different challenges. The first is to draw up a blueprint for European monetary union and refashion existing European structures to accommodate greater political unity. Of course, the second is to work out a strategy for a wider association of European countries about which the Taoiseach spoke this morning. The Community must also maintain its original vision, that of a democratic, just and peaceful society that cherishes individual intellectual freedom.
I wonder why the Summit of Saturday last did not carry out a sort of stocktaking of the probes we are making towards 1992. I know the Taoiseach said this morning that his fellow Heads of State said they were satisfied with the probes being made and congratulated the Taoiseach on the work being done. But after the nudge given by the British Foreign Secretary about his disappointment at the progress being made, I should have thought it would have been appropriate that the Heads of State would have sat down and drawn up a check list of what had been done and what needs to be done; how far have we advanced towards the free movement of people, goods, services and capital as envisaged under the Single European Act? It would have been an appropriate time to have done so as well because we are precisely half way in that period from 1 July 1987 — when the  Single European Act came into effect — and 31 December 1992 when all of these proposals are supposed to have been adopted and ratified by national parliaments.
The Fifth Report of the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament issued in Brussels on 28 March 1990, page 5, paragraph 16 — I agree with this and thought the Council of Ministers on Saturday last might have paid heed to it — said:
... the Community is now at a crucial stage in implementation of the Single Act. This year will determine whether or not the objectives set out in 1985 and confirmed by the Single Act will be attained.
Yet, except for self-laudatory phrases, there does not appear to have been any detailed attention paid to that.
The Taoiseach said this morning that almost 60 per cent of the proposals that need to be adopted have been accepted so far. At first sight that would appear to be commendable progress. But one must remember that the 60 per cent so far adopted comprised by far the easier ones, that the more difficult will arise in the future. Indeed that is borne out by the same report from which I have already quoted and which says that, when the Single European Act came into effect, of the proposals on the table, 19 per cent needed unanimous agreement; whereas at present, of the proposals remaining to be dealt with, 23 per cent need unanimous agreement. Therefore, it will be clearly seen that more difficult proposals lie ahead. When I say we are half way between 1 July 1987 and 31 December 1992, on the calendar that is correct but, of course, if national parliaments are to ratify those proposals, they will have to be adopted by the Council of Ministers well before 31 December 1992; in fact they will have to be adopted in the early spring of 1992 to allow national parliaments sufficient time for their ratification. The position is much more urgent than would be thought from the assertion by the European Council and again by the Taoiseach this morning — that progress is  satisfactory. Progress is not satisfactory. More difficult decisions have to be taken and we shall have less time for them in the future than has been the case to date.
After the British Foreign Minister talked about giving the nudge forward our Minister for Finance said they were awaiting proposals from the Commission. Yet the same report of the European Commission of 28 March last, the same report from which I have already quoted says, on page 6:
The Commission has honoured its commitments; on 7 April 1990, 1,000 days before the 1992 deadline, all proposals are before the Council, but the fact that the Council has taken partial decisions in certain areas (such as transport) or departed from the approach recommended by the Commission (as in taxation) will call for additional proposals.
Therefore, the Commission has done its job. If there is any hold-up in the movement forward towards 1992 it will be at Council level. I do not intend that to be a particular criticism of the Irish Presidency because, by and large the Presidency has worked hard over the past three or four months, but I want to emphasise and underline the urgency that has not been apparent from the Summit of Saturday last, about how close we are to the deadline of 1992. I want to impress upon the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs that, unless the momentum is increased for the last few months of this Presidency into the Italian Presidency, the deadline in 1992, with ratification by all national parliaments, will be extremely difficult to meet.
As we move towards the completion of the Single European Market questions arise on the shape of the political institutions necessary to facilitate European integration.
For instance, what role will the Council of Ministers play and how can the European Parliament, the only directly elected European institution, be strengthened and expanded? Given the press briefing he gave last Saturday, the Taoiseach seems to have reservations  about a greater role for the parliament. Perhaps this is due to the lack of influence of the grouping to which his party are attached in the European Parliament.
The conventional wisdom was that we were one voice in 12 and for this reason a strong Irish presence there would be of more benefit. Without coming to any conclusion I would like to advance the suggestion that perhaps we should reconsider this view. Following the introduction of majority voting we now have only three votes out of a total of 76 and not one out of 12. In the European Parliament the Irish MEPs are members of a wide group of different interests. For instance, my party are attached to the Christian Democrats while the Labour Party are attached to the Socialists and Deputy De Rossa's party to the Communist grouping. Would it be fair to call it that?
Proinsias De Rossa: It is called the left union group.
Mr. Barry: Fianna Fáil are attached to another smaller grouping. The groupings in the parliament are now becoming much more important. Decisions are made within the groups who then try to influence the parliament. The Socialists and Christian Democrats sometimes work closely together. We have strong influence within the groups who in turn influence the parliament. As I say, we need to thrash this matter out a little bit more and come to conclusions but I would not automatically come to the conclusion at this point that more power for the parliament would be a bad thing for the country. We should look at this much more carefully.
Mr. S. Barrett: It would be a bad thing for Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Barry: The strength of an Irish Minister in the Council of Ministers has been diminished as a result of the introduction of the Single European Act and  majority voting in the Council. The Commission is not directly elected — something that has been much criticised — but in fairness one would have to say that the Commission as constituted during the past 18 to 20 years has been extremely sensitive to our concerns and has been concerned to see the economy was not damaged by any of the decisions it took. In that regard it has been very good but it is difficult to encourage the democratic process in Eastern Europe when at the same time an important power broker at the centre of the Community is not elected.
This morning in his speech the Taoiseach made reference, as he did at his press conference last week, to the importance of subsidiarity. Of course he is correct but it would be of help if the Government practised this in the country and not just preached it to Brussels. The theory is that one does not do anything at a higher level which can be done better at local level. That is fine as far as the Government are concerned in that they do not allow Brussels do anything which they can do. It should also be the case that the Government should not do anything in Dublin which could be done better in the regions. The refusal of the Government to establish regions to administer the Regional Funds places a serious question mark on their commitment to the principle of subsidiarity.
As I said, last week's meeting was rightly called to discuss the unification of Germany and the effects this will have on the Community. The future of a unified Germany lies within the European Community but how will the Community deal with the expansion necessary to facilitate membership applications from Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and perhaps other emerging democracies in central Europe? What form will membership take and at what stage will membership be accepted? Furthermore, what will happen to the applications already on the table from Austria and Turkey?
It appears the Council failed last Saturday to carry out any indepth study of these problems and spent far less time discussing the problems posed for the  Community by the unification of Germany than they did in discussing political union. I would hold that the unification of Germany is going to have profound effects on the Community. For instance, its population will increase by 5 per cent at one fell swoop through the addition of a new country. The Taoiseach made reference today to the six EFTA members and stated that the total population of those countries is 32 million. We should bear in mind that the population of East Germany is 15 million, yet we are going to add this country to the Community without giving any thought to the consequences. This would be equal to adding another Netherlands, Belgium or the combined populations of Portugal and Ireland to the Community. It seems the Community has no say.
I am aware last Saturday reference was made to keeping the Community informed but the membership of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark and, subsequently, the membership of Greece, Spain and Portugal was preceded by years of endless detailed discussions before they were allowed join the Community. Adding economies and populations of that size to the Community places an enormous strain on the institutions of the other member states. It is a very slow, difficult and time consuming process, yet, as I say, a country whose population is equal to the combined populations of Portugal and Ireland or half the population of the six EFTA members is going to be added almost at a stroke of a pen without any thought being given to the implications.
The communique issued last Saturday states that during the period prior to unification the Federal Government will keep the Community fully informed of any relevant measures discussed and agreed between the authorities of the two Germanys for the purpose of aligning their policies and legislation and that the Commisison will be fully involved in these discussions. It is not being made clear whether the Commission is going to be present at the table or whether it is going to be merely involved in the discussions that will take place once the  Federal Government have so informed the other member states. It must be remembered that we also have rights.
I fully subscribe to what the Taoiseach has repeatedly said, as he did this morning, that there is no other country in the Community, perhaps in the world, better equipped in terms of the strength of its economy to absorb a country the size of East Germany than West Germany but that is not the point. Another 11 member states have signed agreements with the Federal Republic of Germany which is part of the European Community. Their economies are going to be affected. I accept the West Germans have no wish to load the cost of unification on the poorer states of the Community, I am sure that that is not their intention, but we are going to be affected.
There is a reference that the East Germans will of course have the right to benefit from the Structural Funds after unification. That is as it should be but if the Structural Funds are to be increased so that the East Germans can benefit from them and other existing parts of the Community will still get their share of the funds, obviously there will be an increased budget and if there is to be an increased budget we will have to contribute to it. We will be affected as will other European countries. To constantly repeat, as the Taoiseach has done now for six months, that this will have no effect on us is unreasonable. It will have an effect on us. I believe every existing commitment will be met but in the future the Community will not be the same as it is now. We are going through the process of completing the Single European Act but half way through it the circumstances of the Community are changed because of another population growth of 5 per cent and the inclusion of a fairly substantial country without the normal process that would apply to any other country such as Austria or Turkey and which did apply to Greece, Spain and Portugal and other countries that joined after the initial Six came together. The European Summit last week has been irresponsible in letting the people of  Europe think that this will not have an effect on anything that happens here.
I want to give an example of how we will be affected. I know of a factory in this country that is German owned, which was brought here may be 20 years ago by the IDA and which has been very successful. It was part of a company that, before the war, had had plants all over the then Germany. When the division of Germany came those plants in Eastern Germany were nationalised and taken over by the East German Government. The western part of it grew and expanded and opened a plant here in Ireland. Last year they started an extensive expansion plan costing £25 million. They applied to their headquarters in Germany for permission to go ahead with this and that was granted. Earlier this year the headquarters office came back to them and asked them to put that plan on hold because now, rather than expanding in Ireland, they would wish to put the money into the plants they had before the war in what was to become East Germany. While there will be minimal direct transfer of resources out of here there will definitely be indirect effects on this economy because of firms adopting that stand. The lack of consideration and deep thought being given to the unification of Germany and its effect on the other 11 member states is certainly unworthy in view of the kind of careful planning that went into previous enlargements of the Community. Let us make no mistake about it; this is what this is.
The industries in East Germany are said to be extremely dirty and environmentally unfriendly. It will take many years to bring them up to the level of some of the industries in other parts of Europe. Does that mean that after the unification of Germany the environmental proposals and directives that are now part of the European Community are not going to be applied in East Germany and that they will be allowed to derogate from them in the future? If so, what effect does that have on the competitive position of competing companies in the rest of the Community? These are  questions that should be asked and which deserve answers. I presumed they would be asked at the Council meeting that was called last Saturday. They appear, however, to have been ignored or not to have had sufficient attention given to them. I suspect there was an understandable desire on the part of Heads of State, in their enthusiasm for seeing a united Germany as part of the European Community, to side-step all these issues. Even though East Germany is not the same as other countries its entry to the European Community should be treated in a similar fashion, desirable as is the unification of Germany. The same will apply in the future to the other Eastern European countries — Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and maybe others as well.
In the communiqué last Saturday it was also said that discussions would start forthwith in the Council on the basis of the Commission's communication and association agreements with each of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which include an institutional framework for political dialogue. The Community will work to complete the association agreements in negotiating with these countries as soon as possible on the understanding that the basic conditions with regard to democratic principles and the transition towards a market economy are fulfilled, all of which I approve of. Is this with the objective of having them apply for membership of the Community in the future? It has been estimated that to bring the economies of these countries, whose national debts are even more horrendous than ours up to western European level, will cost about £100 million a year over the next ten years. That will mean sacrifices on the part of other democracies in the European Community. We should not pretend that that will not happen. We should recognise that established individually sensitive democracies in these Eastern European states is a worthy end in itself and that it is necessary to make a sacrifice for that purpose, but we should not go around saying that no sacrifice will be required to help build democracies in these  countries. If we are to help build democracies in these countries it means the transfer of resources of about £100 million a year over the next ten years.
One of the central issues in a politically unified Europe will be the question of security and defence arrangements. From our point of view European union will demand a radical reassessment of our military neutrality. The Taoiseach was very clear about our commitment to the process of European political unity. Does he agree that our participation in an integrated European Community requires an undertaking to defend that community?
The order in which these things is done is important. An indication that we would defend that political unity is one thing but a firm commitment to do it now without the economies and political unity being put in place would be another.
It appears from what the Taoiseach said this morning that he feels that all this talk of defence and security is being shuffled away into the CSCE. This, of course, is a very valuable body which has done extremely good work since 1975 on the Helsinki Act. When the two super powers — perhaps one of them is no longer a super power — have lowered their guard and when their suspicions of one another are not as focused as they have been for the last 40 years a common security programme for all of Europe may be developed in time. That situation has not been reached now, however, and if the European Community goes ahead at the rate that the Council last week said it should, it certainly will not be possible by the time political unity has been reached. We will have to face this problem, and to duck and weave and pretend it does not exist is not right. It may be, after extensive public debate in this House and outside it, that we are not prepared to pay the price of defending that political unity when it arises. If so, the quicker we reach that decision the better. To pretend that shuffling with the CSCE will not present a problem is not the correct thing to do.
The Taoiseach said earlier that we are now firmly, decisively and categorically  committed to political union in Europe. From my party's point of view the logic of that statement is that if such political union comes into existence it would be inconceivable if we were not prepared to play our part defending that union. I know other Members do not share that view, indeed they do not wish political union to come about because they are not willing to defend it and that applies outside this House as well, but I think we should start a debate on this as quickly as possible because if we do not, the debate will be taken on to the streets, which would be undesirable.
In Ireland the word “neutrality” has not been properly defined. It means different things to different people. As I remarked earlier the word has an emotional attachment rather than any clear meaning for some people. This is the place to talk about the concept of neutrality but preferably it should be discussed in a Foreign Affairs Committee. We should have the debate soon and not wait until political union is a fait accompli. Some sections of the Irish community will be totally unaware that the political union in favour of which they were asked to wave flags will demand that they defend that union. The Government should lead the debate on this subject in this House. Preferably this subject should be debated by a Foreign Affairs Committee which is more urgently needed than ever.
I hope the Government will realise the wisdom of establishing such a committee because we have to keep track of events in Europe, including the unification of Germany and its effect on this economy. I welcome the unification of Germany and the movement towards democracy in European Europe. We should encourage this but we have to pay a price in economic and other terms but it is worth paying the price because a Europe which is founded on democratic, just and Christian principles is of benefit to all mankind and will diminish the prospects of war in the future. However, this requires some sacrifice on our part. I hope that a debate on the sacrifice required will not be  pushed aside as it was during last Saturday's Summit and as were the difficult questions on the effects of German unification on this country. There are costs to be paid and we should not pretend otherwise. Having said that, I welcome the movement towards European union.
The movement towards bringing this country into the European Community, which began in the late sixties and early seventies, was led by this party. When the Community chose to recharge its batteries in the mid-eighties, culminating in the Single European Act and the movement towards a common market in 1992, this party had a major role to play. We have always been a party committed to working towards the goal of political union in Europe. We have not dodged that issue nor have we ever pretended it did not involve a cost in some areas through the transfer of sovereignty in some respects. We have said frequently in the intervening 20 years that if political union came about our party would try to persuade the people that it would be perfectly desirable and natural that we should play our part in the defence of that community.
I was disappointed with the Summit because it did not address the problems for which it was called, that is, the problems facing Europe as a result of the unification of Germany. By introducing the prospect of the Summit also discussing European unity, the German Chancellor effectively got the Summit to sidestep the difficult question that still needs to be asked by the Council of Ministers on the effects of German unification on the rest of Europe.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair understands that in consideration of demands on the Minister for Foreign Affairs later on, the main spokesperson for the Labour Party and The Workers' Party are agreeable to my calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Collins): I extend my thanks and appreciation to the Labour Party and to The  Workers' Party for facilitating me in this way.
In his speech earlier today, the Taoiseach has already provided a comprehensive and wide ranging survey of the course of recent developments in Europe. In particular, he has set out the response of the European Community as decided by the European Council at its special meeting in Dublin last Saturday. This was a meeting of immense importance for Ireland, for the European Community and indeed for all of Europe and beyond. It is very clear that at this critical period in Europe's history the European Community cannot take an inward looking attitude or adopt a passive approach. The events taking place in Europe demand a response from the Community.
We must ensure that the Community has the strength, the resources and the institutions to develop its own integration and to maintain its own specific weight and influence. In no other way can we cope with the rapidly changing conditions on our Continent.
The Community must be able to turn to the outside world, in particular to the rest of Europe, and assume the role which the new political opportunities and challenges demand. The promise of a Europe no longer divided into hostile camps can be realised only with the active political and economic support of a European Community conscious of its responsibilities and confident in its ability to carry them out.
The European Council last weekend has made a major contribution towards enabling the Community to fulfil its task. I believe that the results of this meeting are particularly encouraging, not least because the Community has demonstrated its ability to combine proper attention to its internal development with a purposeful response to the wave of change which has overtaken the East.
Underlying all the considerations of the European Council — and indeed the series of meetings which preceded it — was a full and clear recognition that the effects of these momentous changes will not be confined to one half of the Continent.
 The changes in Eastern Europe are peaceful, but no less radical for that. The transformation of the East-West relationship which is taking place now promises to be far reaching. The changes we are witnessing today are very different from those born out of conflict, revolution and war and hold out great hope for a future of peace and freedom. Among the changes being brought about are new structures and new ways of conducting international relations have to be devised. These are essential in order to deal with the uncertainties which inevitably accompany such far reaching change.
We warmly welcome the change and the renewal we are witnessing today. It seems that now, at last, Europe can overcome the divisions inherited from the Second World War. For more than 40 years Europe has been beset by institutionalised confrontation, with the threat of war inherent in it, and the stifling of human freedom and creativity. It is time now to move on towards a new Europe which can guarantee all its people a decent and humane future. It is with a great sense of relief that we greet the ending of the Cold War, a period when the normal development of half of our Continent seemed to have frozen over. Today there is, instead, a sense that normal political forces have been liberated. This movement can be seen through all the confusion and abruptness of the dramatic events which have swept across Eastern Europe in recent months.
In country after country, people have acted decisively to regain control of their destiny. Governments which for so long were imposed on the people to obey them are now yielding place to Governments who accept that their legitimacy derives exclusively from the democratic will of their citizens. We must pay tribute to the millions of people whose determination and restraint have brought about peaceful change on so vast a scale, who have demonstrated what Vaclav Havel calls “the power of the powerless”. We must also recognise the crucial role of the Soviet Union which has given the most concrete and convincing demonstration  of the reality of its new approach, without which the process of liberation in Eastern Europe would have been so much more problematic.
In the Soviet Union, a new vision of society is seeking to assert itself against the stagnation and intolerance which were the hallmarks of the old regime. Human rights, political freedom, democracy and the rule of law have all made great advances. Political and economic reform, openness and respect for the individual are gaining ground. This change is also apparent in the Soviet Union's foreign policy.
As a result of these changes, the two super powers are now actively building a new relationship which transcends the antagonisms of the past. Co-operation is replacing confrontation. We hope that this trend has become firmly established and is leading the world ever farther away from the confrontation which at times threatened humanity with the ultimate catastrophe. Concrete steps are also being taken to end the military rivalry. For more than 40 years each side has sought to undo the other in the numbers and destructiveness of its arms. Happily, a series of disarmament negotiations currently taking place promise to bring an end to this dangerous and senseless arms race.
Already, intermediate-range nuclear missiles, an entire class of weapons, are being eliminated. The United States and the Soviet Union expect to reach agreement later this year on major reductions in strategic nuclear arms. This should lead on to further negotiations which will, we hope, eventually result in agreement to ban all nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the two alliances are currently conducting negotiations in Vienna whose purpose is to place their conventional armed forces on a completely defensive footing by removing their capacity to mount an invasion or a surprise attack. These are all very encouraging signs. They show that countries are now beginning to accept that no lasting security can be found by exclusive reliance on military means of warding off aggression. We look forward to a progressive reduction of the  military stand-off and a corresponding willingness to build up the political, co-operative means of assuring peace and stability.
The European Community welcomes and supports these developments. The Community is fully conscious of its own role and responsibilities and the need for a forthcoming and encouraging response. This sense of responsibility and willingness to respond were already very much in evidence at the informal meeting of Heads of Government in Paris on 18 November last. A number of concrete projects designed to bring specific assistance to Eastern Europe were set in train at that meeting. These included a new bank for reconstruction and development to help in economic restructuring, a foundation for training to assist in providing management skills, participation in Community programmes, financial aid for Poland and Hungary, closer involvement of East European countries in international organisations such as GATT and the Council of Europe. A series of meetings have taken place since then, culminating in last Saturday's special meeting of the European Council. The main reason for calling the special meeting of the European Council was to consider the implications for the Community of German unification and the changes in Central and Eastern Europe for the Community.
The European Council clearly underlined that the changes which are under way will have major implications for the development of the Community. It gave a warm welcome to German unification, as Deputies will have noted from the text of the conclusions of the meeting. It also considered that unification will be a positive factor in the development of the Community — in effect a catalyst in the future development of closer integration.
On Saturday we were able to note with satisfaction that German unification is taking place under the Community roof and in full respect for the common body of law which as a member of the Community the Federal Republic shares with  its partners. The economic effects of unification will be positive and, as the conclusions point out, will take place in conditions of economic balance and monetary stability. The Commission estimates that it could add a further one half per cent to Community growth rates in the next couple of years, a view which is reflected in the conclusions of Saturday's meeting.
As is concluded by the European Council, unification will not require revision of the treaties. The Federal Republic will continue to keep the Community fully informed of the development of the process and the Commission will be fully involved. The Commission will report on the transitional arrangements required and propose the necessary legislation for consideration by the Council. Transitional measures will be confined to what is strictly necessary and aim at rapid integration of the regions involved into the Community.
At the European Council we were able to establish the basis for the Community's involvement with German unification. The Community as a whole will have a role to play in regard to the historic process now under way in Germany. It is right this should be the case and our German partners agree. They acknowledge the importance of the Community and its development to the Federal Republic over the last four decades and it is clear that their commitment is unwavering.
The Community has applied the same intense examination to the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe as it has to German reunification. The necessary decisions in both the political and economic fields have been taken by the Community and are now being implemented. The Community has formulated a comprehensive, detailed and concrete response which will lend practical help to the countries of Eastern Europe in this difficult transition period. We cannot, of course, replace their own efforts, but we can and must supplement them. In this we have been guided by three basic principles. First, the Community wants to see the divisions of  Europe overcome and a new set of relations established between European countries. Second, the Community insists on the need for a sense of responsibility on all sides so that the necessary changes will not have the effect, which nobody desires, of prejudicing stability in Europe. Third, the Community is ready to develop deeper and closer relations with Eastern Europe based on an intensified political dialogue and increased co-operation of all areas. In particular the Community is determined to provide support for economic reform in these countries.
The countries of Eastern Europe have travelled an enormous distance in recent weeks and months, but the safe completion of this journey will require wisdom, realism and political resolve on the part of all, both East and West. We have a responsibility, both nationally and in our role as Presidency of the European Community, to do what we can to promote an international order founded on the principles of peace and justice. We should neither exaggerate nor minimise the role a country such as ours can play. We have firmly supported the action of the Community which has been a strong source of support, as well as an example, to the newly liberalising countries of Eastern Europe. In all international councils we have given clear expression to our views on disarmament, human rights, democracy, and the right of nations to choose their own path freely. We have spoken out firmly against actions and policies which perpetrate confrontation and we have advocated with all our strength policies which lead to reconciliation. We accept our responsibilities gladly and we will carry them out, as best we can, with the sole aim of helping to bring about a genuine and lasting peace among all our nations and to restore the values of freedom, openness and diversity which define European civilisation.
Another important area in which we can contribute towards the achievement of these goals is through our participation in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Together with our  partners in the Twelve, we regard the CSCE as a particularly useful and promising development in international affairs. At its centre is the Helsinki Final Act drawn up in 1975. The Final Act encompasses a number of basic principles which Ireland has always strongly advocated. These include the rule of law, reduction of tensions, cessation of the arms race, the right of individual countries to pursue their own path and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We believe that all these principles must be scrupulously observed if peace and security are to be built on a firm and lasting basis.
It is not and never has been our view that a stable international system can be based on a competitive search for military advantage. In our view, this reliance on increasingly destructive weapons has in itself been one of the major causes of distrust and tension in East-West relations. While we can understand the legitimate security concerns of states, we consider that the very existence of massive armed forces has obstructed progress towards a more co-operative and harmonious international system. It is not enough, however, to halt and reverse the arms race. It is necessary to accompany this with structures to relieve the sources of tension and ultimately remove them. The Helsinki process aims precisely at achieving this. It is, moreover, an effort which draws this particular lesson from the tragic experience of European conflict.
The CSCE process, as the European Council stated last Saturday, “will serve as a framework for reform and stability on our continent”. The spirit on which it is based recognises that the existing state of relations in Europe can be transformed only by peaceful means; that all the participating states have a shared interest in security and co-operation; that they must all take part on the basis of full equality; and that the entire range of our relations must be treated in a comprehensive manner and differences among us addressed openly and honestly.
At a time when radical and sweeping change is taking place at an extremely  rapid pace we are fortunate to have an arrangement such as the CSCE already in place. The Community is already providing assistance to the countries of Eastern Europe to help them manage their internal transformation into democratic states and to overcome the enormous economic difficulties which they face. At the same time, it is essential to provide a pan-European framework in which the international dimension to these changes can be given shape and be embedded in a stable structure. This has to involve all the countries of Europe, as well as the United States and Canada. The European Council expressed the desire that the CSCE would be balanced in development encompassing “notably the development of pluralist democracy, the rule of law, human rights, better protection of minorities, human contacts, security, economic co-operation, the environment, further co-operation in the Mediterranean and co-operation in the field of culture”.
We believe that the Summit meeting of the CSCE due to take place at the end of this year will bring this process to a new level. We expect that this meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the CSCE countries will lay the foundations for a lasting peace where confrontation and military rivalry will have no place. This will be a community of European and North American States in which conflict between East and West will be as unthinkable as it is today among the Twelve members of the European Community. This is an enterprise in which this country has a full part to play.
The European Council made substantial progress in mapping out the approach of the Community to the task of integration of the territory of the GDR after integration and to its relations with European and other countries during the nineties.
In parallel with this the Council also agreed on the need to continue and intensify its internal development. Major objectives for that development are the achievement of the Single Market and the establishment of Economic and  Monetary Union. These objectives are, of course, set in the context of the goal of European Union. The first line of the Rome Treaty reads:
“Determined to lay the foundation of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”
The opening lines of the Single European Act remind us of this commitment and speak of the will “to transform relations among the States into a European Union”.
On the first objective of completing the Internal Market by the end of 1992, an ambitious programme for legislation is under way and agreement has been achieved on about 60 per cent of the proposals. We are on target for the Single Market. A number of important measures have gone through under the Irish Presidency as the Taoiseach has outlined earlier. We expect to reach agreement before July on a series of measures in the areas of transport, animal and plant health, telecommunications etc. Difficult and complex proposals, particularly in the taxation area remain to be negotiated in the next year or so. In addition, the completion of the market requires that measures be not only agreed but also implemented. Here again, I might add, Ireland is to the forefront, and we should be happy that we are among the top five as regards the number of Internal Market measures in force. The momentum towards this objective must be built up throughout the Community and the Heads of State and Government confirmed their commitment to this.
The Treaty and Single Act refer to the progressive realisation of Economic and Monetary Union. The Strasbourg Council decided on the holding of an Intergovernmental Conference to discuss possible Treaty changes needed for the final stages of EMU. Since then, intensive work has been under way in order to prepare fully and adequately for that Conference. The Ministers of Finance have reached the decisions necessary to launch the first stage, on schedule on 1 July this year. This will involve greater convergence of economic policies among  the member states and increased co-operation between the Central Banks in the context of liberalisation of the movements of capital. The Finance Ministers and the specialist committees under their aegis have also reached a significant level of agreement on certain essential elements of Economic and Monetary Union. Foreign Affairs Ministers are to begin examination next week of the institutional aspects.
The intention is to make a progress report to the June European Council with a view to setting guidelines for further work during the Italian Presidency. In the meantime last week's European Council noted that the preparations for the Intergovernmental Conference are well advanced. They agreed that they could now set a timetable for completion of the negotiations by the end of 1992.
As Deputies are aware, Ireland is committed to working towards EMU. Economic and monetary integration is a logical concomitant to opening the Single Market. Our task in the coming months is to ensure a balanced outcome from the negotiations so that all regions and member states will benefit from these developments.
As I mentioned earlier, the moves towards the Single Market and EMU should be seen in the perspective of European Union. The Community needs constantly to ensure that progress is being maintained towards ultimate union. As we become more closely interlinked in various areas of policy, we must ensure that our institutions can respond in an effective way to the demands placed upon them. We must seek ways to avoid blockages or paralysis. For this purpose the decision-making mechanisms and the roles of the institutions must be reviewed periodically. It is equally important that those who make decisions do so in a context of democratic control. This also needs to be monitored and, if necessary, adjusted from time to time. In addition, as the member states of the Community speak more and more with one voice and act in concert on the international scene the mechanisms for integration should be reviewed.
 The Heads of State and Government confirmed their commitment to political union and asked the Foreign Ministers to undertake a detailed examination on the need for possible Treaty changes. Proposals are to be made to the June European Council with a view to a second Intergovernmental Conference which would work simultaneously with the IGC on Economic and Monetary Union with the objective of ratification of the results by the end of 1992.
That examination is already in hands. Foreign Ministers will discuss the matter at the General Affairs Council on 7 and 8 May and will work intensively through May and June to draw up a report of the issues involved. This will provide the basis for an in-depth discussion by the Heads of State and Government in June.
I want to turn now to the question of where the European Community fits into international developments and what its role should be. As I said earlier, we cannot be an inward-looking Community. This is not a question of choice. In no sense can the European Community — or Ireland, for that matter — build a wall around itself and hope to continue as before, ignoring the tidal wave of change in the outside world. But this is not new. The European Community has never seen its future as simply a bloc of countries coming together sporadically to pursue common trade interests. That has already been impossible for a long time in view of the challenges posed by the United States, Japan and the newly industrialising countries. We have already for many years been evolving policies to deal with these challenges successively and in a spirit of co-operation and mutual benefit. Furthermore, we have long recognised that the growing gap between North and South, between the developed and the developing countries, cannot be tolerated. Here again, we have developed effective co-operation policies through the Lome Convention with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. We have also — and again for several years — been working towards common foreign policy positions through the framework  of European Political Co-operation. Finally, I should state the obvious fact that we had already decided, long before the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe, to create a Single European Market in 1992.
The conclusion I would draw from all this is that the European Community is already well prepared to play a dynamic role in the world while at the same time strengthening its own integration and sense of unity. There is no contradiction between these two poles of the Community's policy. Indeed, they are inseparable. Far from one line being pursued at the expense of the other, they mutually reinforce one another.
At the same time, it is quite clear that the challenge and opportunity we are now facing is far greater than anything that has gone before. That is why it is so important that the European Council on Saturday was able to decide on a further strengthening of the Community's efforts to achieve closer integration. Three years after the ratification of the Single European Act we no longer hear derisory accusations of “Euro-sclerosis”. The Community is making ready to progress further towards the goal of political union. The collective commitment to that objective which the European Council reaffirmed last Saturday demonstrates the Community's determination to meet the challenges ahead.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Before calling Deputy Quinn I would like to acknowledge his co-operation in the matter, of not requiring me to interrupt the Minister during the speech which went a little over the prescribed time.
Mr. Quinn: First, we all should compliment the Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the other bodies involved in the physical arrangements not just for the Summit that took place in Dublin Castle last Saturday but also since the commencement of this Presidency. There was some scepticism about the elaborate arrangements that  were put in place, but had the Irish Presidency not taken extra preparations upon itself, the onslaught of unforeseen events might have overwhelmed the relatively small administration. To that extent it should be acknowledged that the preparations that have taken place have proven to be wise and have served us well as a nation.
The Dublin Summit began the process of preparing the Community of Twelve for some form of political union. The Irish Presidency facilitated the deliberations of that Summit and has vigorously promoted its conclusions on behalf of the Council. However, the Irish Government on behalf of the Irish people have been remarkably coy in giving any indication as to what their concept of European political union might be and how it would impact on the lives and wellbeing of the Irish people. The Labour Party are particularly concerned at the apparent absence of any position by the Irish Government on this crucial matter. Ringing declarations praising the advent of freedom and rhetoric enthusing the concept of a greater European political union are no substitute for clear and well set out requirements, safeguards and proposals which will best meet the needs of the Irish people. This Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Coalition Government have been remarkable for the poverty of their ideas on the European dimension of political union which must be addressed before the Irish people can advance to the next stage of greater integration and political unity.
The Labour Party welcome the progress which has been made within Europe, which has resulted in the removal of barriers and the re-establishment of democracies. The events in Central and Eastern Europe give us much pleasure. The defeat, without violence, of Stalinist left totalitarianism provides a sense of vindication for democratic socialists throughout Europe. We can at last say that the acrimonious and intense divisions between the Labour Party and their sister parties in the socialist internationale, the Communist parties of Central and Eastern Europe and their  Western European allies has started to come to an end. Those parties who were once wedded to a rigid adherence to the principle of democratic centralism now accept that the advancement of humanity along a socialist path can only be made within a democratic and free society.
The Labour Party have a very clear perspective of the future of Europe. We share with the Confederation of European Socialist Parties a range of values and practical experience derived from many years of international co-operation, and a view on how progress towards a greater political union among the 12 sovereign states can be made.
The Labour Party assert that progress towards greater political union in the short term must take place within the framework of the totality of the Single European Act. We would remind the Government and, indeed, the people at large that the Single European Act provided for more things than the completion of the Single Market by 1992. Side by side with that important task is the concept of economic and social cohesion. In addition the doubling of Structural Funds was seen as a necessary immediate response to offset the dislocating impact which the completed Internal Market will have on disadvantaged and peripheral regions in the economy. Finally in relation to the Single European Act, the strengthening of the Community's confidence with regard to the environmental matters was a clear recognition of the increasingly important role which environmental concerns must have in all aspects of Community policy.
The decision of the Strasbourg Summit in 1989 to arrange for an inter-governmental conference in December 1990 to move to the next stage of economic and monetary union has not been fully or adequately presented in the Irish media by the present Government. Listening to Government spokespersons, including Cabinet Ministers and economic commentators, the impression has been created that the December Intergovernmental Conference will concern itself exclusively with the problems and  possibilities of monetary union. Economic and monetary union implies a much more fundamental harmonisation of the 12 separate economies of the member states than is implicit in the easy talk about fixing parities between currencies and the establishment of some form of European federal central bank.
Our most recent experience of greater European integration in the field of social affairs and regional policy as handled by this Government gives the Labour Party grave reason for concern. If the manner in which these two important consequences of the completion of the Single Market have been handled is an indication of the Government's competence to move to the next stage of political union, then the Labour Party declare that they have no confidence in the ability of this administration to protect the interest of all the Irish people in a future Europe.
The continued excessive secrecy surrounding the allocation of the Structural Funds in respect of regional development is a national scandal. The continued refusal by the Minister for Finance to reestablish, as he promised nearly a year ago, the advisory committees and the working groups for the seven sub-regions which together were components of Ireland's regional plan submitted to the Community in Brussels, tells it own tale. The exclusion from the process of local democratically elected groups and the representative bodies flies totally and utterly against the spirit of the reconstructed Structural Funds as established under the Single European Act and rips away the rhetoric of freedom with which the Taoiseach's speech and the speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs are riddled. If they are so in love with democracy and freedom, why not start with the seven sub-regional committees in this country?
Mr. Roche: What did the Deputy's party do with the fund when they were in power?
Mr. Quinn: I would not stick my head over the ditch if I were Deputy Roche.  The Government have already been criticised indirectly and directly, not just by me but by the person responsible for this, and that is the Commissioner with responsibility for regional affairs both in this country and in the European Parliament. I am sure Deputy De Rossa will be able to articulate the time, place and exact content of that criticism.
With regard to the Social Charter, the Irish Government's position in private has been in marked contrast to their posturing in public. They, as distinct from the Irish Presidency, have evaded the possibility of strengthening the provisions of social protection to which every European citizen and worker is entitled by means of European-wide directives. The lack of a clear analysis from the Government of the many possibilities for a deepened European political union is an indication of the poverty of the political debate over which they have presided in this House. Their continued refusal to allow the establishment by the Oireachtas of a foreign affairs committee will be dealt with at some length by my colleague, Deputy Michael D. Higgins, who first advocated such a committee some years ago.
However, a view of the variety of European-wide institutions and political organisations gives an indication of the complexity of the task confronting those charged with the development of a path towards greater political unity. As far as the Labour Party are concerned, the socialist group in the European Parliament and the parties who make up that group in every one of the member states have a very clear idea as to the problems that confront us and the kinds of structures we would like to see.
In view of the fact that we listened for the last hour and a half to both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs speak about greater political union without at any stage outlining the problems or difficulties relating to it, it might be useful if the House were to summarise for itself the wide range of existing institutions all of which will have to be accommodated or integrated in  some shape or form if we are to take the next step towards political union.
Even with the rapid changes that are taking place in central Europe, there are two sets of European institutions, a western set and an eastern set. Then there is a European-wide set of institutions as well. The western set includes NATO and the Western European Union — Ireland is not a member of either — and the European Community of which we have been a full member since 1973. We have the EFTA countries, six countries on the western divide of Europe, and the OECD, a European organisation with other countries. That organisation is based in Paris and has a predominance of European countries. There is also the Council of Europe to which Members of the House belong. It is exclusively confined to the western post-Cold War Europe divide of the Continent.
On the eastern side of the current division of European institutions there is the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and COMECON, the economic community of the Soviet Union and its former Communist allies. There are two pan-European institutions, the CSCE, to which reference has been made, and the original post-war United Nations economic commission of Europe.
Any debate about political union, and any discussion on how we should move to some form of greater political unity along the lines implicitly set out in the speeches of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, will have to address themselves to how that union or greater political unity will relate to the existing institutions operating within a European framework. I have to say that the poverty of analysis, the absence of any recognition by the politicians in this Coalition Government of the existence of those institutions, and the implications for any kind of change, are frightening. My colleague, Deputy Michael Higgins, will deal with this at some length. The question of greater political union within the European Community is more complex and comprehensive in its implications for our relationship not just with  other member states but with other states on the Continent. We are not given any indication that the Government are aware of the problems or are formulating any type of response.
We have heard speeches from the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs setting out a clear timetable within which the Minister for Foreign Affairs will have to have a draft report prepared by June for the December conference on the steps that can be taken with regard to political unity in the Community.
With regard to European structures, there is a chronic need for the Government to allow a comprehensive debate on the options they see open to us. It is not sufficient for the Government in the privacy of Iveagh House or the Department of the Taoiseach to formulate a set of options for themselves, present them and negotiate on them across the tables of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs or others and present us at a later stage with a fait accompli suggesting to us that we can take them or leave them. That is not up to the standard of democratic accountability to which so much fulsome praise was given by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Democratic accountability brings me to my next point, the whole question of what has been described as the democratic deficit within the existing array of European institutions. We are acutely aware of the democratic deficit in so far as we seldom, if ever, get an opportunity to have a proper debate with the Minister for Foreign Affairs who has primarily political responsibility for our relationship with the rest of the Community. Today's debate is graphic evidence of that. The order of speakers had to be altered, and it was done so voluntarily by Deputy De Rossa and I, to accommodate the Minister for Foreign Affairs who, having made his speech, had to leave the Chamber due to the pressure of business. We appreciate and recognise that but it is very hard to have a debate in an empty Chamber when the person who attended the Council meetings, notwithstanding  the help he received from his Minister of State, will not be present for it.
What has happened today is an indication of a problem that is endemic in the House when we are talking about Ireland's relationship with the European Community. Members of the European Parliament who are also Members of the House — we have only two of them — frequently are not in a position to put questions to relevant Ministers who are Presidents of the various Councils of the EC. Yet, those Ministers are subject to scrutiny by the committees of the European Parliament in a manner which if it happened here would be very damaging and revealing. Not only is there a democratic deficit within this establishment between the elected Members and the members of the Government who have positions within the Presidency of the EC or who represent Ireland at the Councils of Ministers, whether on the Internal Market, the Social Affairs Council, the Council of Ministers of Agriculture or ECOFIN but the level of accountability is inadequate. It will become increasingly more inadequate if we move to a grater level of integration within the Community. Unless there is a change in the framework of our Standing Orders it will become completely inadequate when the Single Market is completed in 1992.
Secondly, I should like to refer to the democratic deficit within the Community institutions between the elected members of the citizens of Europe in the European Parliament on the one hand and the Commission and the Council of Ministers on the other. A member of the Socialist Group to which the Labour Party belongs, Mr. Martin, produced a fine report which was recently adopted by the European Parliament and which includes some tentative proposals for increasing the role of the European Parliament and strengthening its provisions. While that may address certain problems of democracy vis-à-vis the Parliament, the Commission and the Council, it does not address the central problem of the relationship between the 12 national Parliaments and the European institutions.
We are not prepared as a political party  committed to advancing the well-being of all the people on this island, but particularly the working people who are the most vulnerable sections of our society, to go down a further step of European integration, of European political union, seduced by rhetoric or ringing phrases unless it is made very clear to us what the precise relationship will be between the people we represent and the institutions that will be making decisions. It amazes me that a political party with the traditions of Fianna Fáil have so embraced, without any critical analysis, the rhetoric of Europeanism that pervades the speeches of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. That bears no relationship to the history of the Fianna Fáil Party and is not consistent with the position they adopted between 1982 and 1987 but then, consistency was never their strong point.
However, the problems of the Fianna Fáil Party do not necessarily concern me but the responsibility they have until the next election to represent the interests of the Irish people is a matter of concern to the House. In the final phrase of his speech the Taoiseach embraced greater political union and he did not suggest that safeguards of any substantial kind would have to be put in place to protect the interests of all the people on the island, particularly those of this State. That is a cause for great alarm.
Let me now move on to a point I want to raise in relation to the best interests of the people of this island within a broader European framework. It is clear that at some stage the Community will be enlarged. It is the view of the socialist group — and The Labour Party — that, prior to any additional enlargement the internal operation, integration and cohesion of the Community — particularly social cohesion — should be strengthened with renewed vigour. We are not talking about a static Community, fixed with 12 member states and not advancing any further. However, rather than broadening the membership on a fast track we would be in favour of a  deepening of the integration of the Community, not just in some form of completed single internal market but in terms of a real social Community that recognises its responsibilities to every citizen and not just to every worker, and as the amended Social Charter now refers to.
In that regard this country's interests — and the Irish peoples' interests — can be best served as Ireland, as distinct from holding the Presidency promotes the current negotiations between the EFTA countries and the Community with regard to the creation of a European economic area. I am saddened and somewhat alarmed at the lack of attention that the Irish Presidency has given to the negotiations with the EFTA countries in relation to the mandate which must be agreed at the June Dublin Summit with a view to a clear timetable which will enable that European Economic area to come into being simultaneously with the completion of the Internal Market in 1992. It is not in Ireland's interests to slow down that process. It is very much in our interest to create new allies with the EFTA countries because those countries, on the periphery of Europe with developed economic systems, and the social democratic tradition that has brought the standards of living of the people way above what we currently enjoy — and to which we continue to aspire — will share the sort of tradition of solidarity to which we must now turn if we want to ensure that we have a place in a large Europe of perhaps 400 million people.
Hiding under the coat-tails of France, because they have the same antiquated agricultural system as ours, or being nice to the Germans because they have a big fat cheque book at present is not the future road for Ireland in a community of 400 million or 500 million people.
I urge the Government, particularly the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, in respect of the EFTA countries and the mandate in particular to make renewed efforts to ensure that the mandate emerges from the June Summit. In that regard I regret that the Government were unable to find time to meet the Prime  Minister of Norway who had to cancel a visit here due to pressure of Irish Presidency business. Prime Ministers of EFTA countries do not often come to this country. We will have the Presidency only every six years and — following the enlargement of the Community — it will be extended to seven or eight years given the rotation principle. The opportunity to avail of the occasion to create new alliances in that regard was missed.
I want to talk about our position as a neutral State within the Community and the need to have that position strengthened notwithstanding anything said earlier by Deputy Barry on behalf of Fine Gael. Ireland is a neutral State and the Labour Party have never had any difficulty about neutrality. I do not know why the Fine Gael Party, the Fianna Fáil Party and others say it is time we had a debate on it so that people may spell out their positions. We have been spelling out our position in relation to neutrality since about 1927. If people want the texts, documents and references they are available. We have a very clear idea of what we mean by being neutral and my colleague, Deputy Higgins, will elaborate in his inimitable style later.
In terms of where we should be building new alliances, it is in the interests of the Irish people that we should unreservedly support the application of Austria to join the European Community conterminous with the completion of the Internal Market and the creation of the European Economic area. Austria's membership of the European Community will not require any negotiation or derogation from any standards or principles currently in operation within Community law. They have said quite clearly that they are prepared to take on the responsibilities of full membership, the only EFTA country to do so. They have declared that their formalised neutrality — formalised in the sense of a parliamentary resolution after 1955 — is not a barrier to their membership of the European Community. Those of us who are committed to Irish neutrality should welcome that. People in this House who hide behind some kind of equivocation on the  realities of that neutrality perhaps feel threatened by the advent of Austria to the European Community. We do not, because it is in the interests of the Irish people because the Presidency of the European Community will have passed from Dublin Castle and Kinsealy by 1 July and Deputy Haughey will revert to being the ordinary Taoiseach of this small and relatively peripheral State within the European Community. We need friends after June in different parts of the Community who think like us, who aspire to the same social value system that we have and who want to advance their people in a way in which we would like to advance. Austria is one of those countries to which we should relate. I make that comment in the full knowledge that Chancellor Uranitzky will be in Dublin next week. I hope that the Government will avail of that opportunity to unequivocally state their position on this matter.
The last area to which I want to refer is the question of European security and the CSCE to which the Taoiseach referred in his speech. I know that Deputy Michael Higgins will elaborate in this regard. We welcome the decision to convene the CSCE conference at the end of this year and we hope that the Government will participate fully in it. The position now in regard to the change in Europe, particularly the way in which we will have the extraordinarily anomalous position of a member state of the European Community being simultaneously a member of NATO — of which we are not a member — having part of its territory a member of the Warsaw Pact, or, alternatively, part of its territory — I am now referring to the GDR — containing troops from one of the Warsaw Pact countries or more, indicates the dramatic changes that have taken place within Europe. This change will continue at a speed and pace which we cannot at this stage even contemplate. The “two plus four” meeting concerning the future of a united Germany will give the final picture in relation to that part of the security jigsaw of Europe.
There is now, as never before, a major role to be played by Ireland's position of  being simultaneously a member of the European Community and a neutral State. In the past, Irish delegations and Foreign Ministers have been ambivalent as to what Ireland's role should be in that regard because the other 11 member states of the European Community effectively spoke as a NATO group on occasions. The boundary line between when the Community was speaking either as a NATO group with the additional NATO members of Norway and others and when it spoke simply within the context of European political co-operation was frequently blurred.
Ireland for its own reasons — which I have always opposed — never fully participated in the European group of neutral and non-aligned nations. This is a mistake and, in the context of a future Europe, post the Cold War divisions and the aggressive military blocs of the NATO alliance and the Warsaw Pact, the position of the Labour Party in relation to neutrality will be vindicated by history rather than, as Deputy Barry suggested, made redundant by history.
It would appear that the rest of Europe are moving to the position currently held by the Swedes, the Finns, the Austrians, the Maltese and the Irish. What we are looking for is some form of security arrangements because as has been rightly said by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, military alliances alone are not sufficient to guarantee peace. There has to be a series of political arrangements between States, sometimes of different cultures and different political systems, based on mutual respect and self confidence for each other which will, in turn, lower the temperature, so to speak, between those countries and reduce the necessity for excessive military alliances of either an aggressive or defensive kind.
The whole area of the CSCE, particularly in the context of changes which have taken place in Europe with the transformation of central and Eastern Europe, alters radically the position Ireland previously held in regard to the  CSCE, on matters of security and its relationship within the EPC on the one hand and European neutral states on the other. At some stage this Administration will have to come clean and state clearly what their position is in relation to these matters, what their role will be in regard to those groups, what their negotiating position will be and whether their stand will be outside that of the EPC. If our stand outside EPC is going to be one which reflects clearly Ireland's sense of positive neutrality the Labour Party will fully and unreservedly endorse it.
I have attempted to go over the array of items which have been raised by the two Government speakers. They covered a wide range of items concerning not just the conclusions of the Summit meeting in Dublin but the implications for this Republic of greater political union. I want to repeat the grave fears I put on the record of the House at the outset of my contribution.
Either Government do not have the slightest idea of what European political union means or they are not prepared to share it with the rest of this House. Either one of those positions would be of grave concern to me. Regrettably I am forced to the conclusion that the first position is the reality — the Government do not have the slightest idea of what their position will be, what line they will take and how it will affect the Irish people. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that but they should not keep it to themselves. They do not have, so to speak, to privatise their ignorance and not share it. This House can make a contribution. The three parties on this side of the House are connected to European political movements which have a vision of the future and an idea as to where we should be going, whether it is with the European Peoples' Party, the Left Unity Group or the Socialist Group. I will have the decency not to refer to the vision of the Gaullist-Fianna Fáil Group in the European Parliament.
This House should be fully engaged in democratically formulating on behalf of the Irish people a vision of the future which we can all share and which will  strengthen the negotiating position of the Irish Government at the bargaining table when the hard decisions to which Deputy Peter Barry referred have to be made and when the trade off between sovereignty and the benefit of participating in a wider political union have to be measured. The continued failure to involve the Oireachtas in the discussions on the future of Europe is a massive indictment of the political poverty of Fianna Fáil in relation to European development.
Proinsias De Rossa: It is not at all satisfactory that this House is only allowed discuss these issues in the aftermath of Summit meetings. Calls have been made regularly in this House over a long period for a foreign affairs committee which could address, on a consistent basis, the various political international issues. Yet the Government have consistently refused to enable such a committee to be established. Various parties on the Opposition benches sought a debate in advance of last weekend's summit meeting on the issues which would be dealt with. At the time the primary issue was German unification. We were promised that that debate would take place. Yet we still find ourselves in the position of discussing events in the aftermath of the Summit instead of in advance of it.
This must be based on the view of the Government that nobody in this House has any contribution to make on these issues other than themselves or that in some way the contributions made by Deputies in this House would undermine their position.
Mrs. T. Ahearn: They might even be treasonous.
Proinsias De Rossa: It seems extraordinary that slightly less than one half of the elected representatives of the Irish people are effectively precluded from making a reasoned and genuine contribution to the development of our politics both nationally and internationally.
My second point relates to the statements made by the Taoiseach indicating  that he has taken on board what I regard as the super power mentality. This must concern us. He said that the Community is the focal point of stability in Europe, the principle source of hope for peace, democratic freedom and economic betterment for all the people of the continent. The continent does not consist of 12 European States. It is extraordinary that the Taoiseach should stand up here and imply that the only states which are democratic and committed to peace are the members of the European Community.
The Taoiseach also referred to new levels of economic growth in Europe and said it can resume its world role of intellectual and cultural leadership.
Mr. M. Higgins: There is a fair history to that.
Proinsias De Rossa: It is extraordinary that the Taoiseach of this small country should stand up here and utter that nonsense. There is no doubt that Europe has contributed considerably in the past to civilisation generally but to get up here and talk about Europe resuming its world role in this regard is utter nonsense and smacks very much of the idea that in some way the European Community is in competition with the United States, Japan and other countries which also seem to believe they have a role to play on the world stage and that the people of this world are just cogs to be manipulated and dragged along as the great leaders of the world proceed with their grand plans.
Mr. Roche: I wonder if Deputy De Rossa's failure to refer to the USSR was a Freudian slip?
Proinsias De Rossa: Deputy Roche will have an opportunity to make his contribution very shortly. I look forward to hearing it as I am sure it will be of his usual high standard.
In relation to this idea of a world role, the leadership of the world and of the Community comprising the sole location of culture, civilisation, democracy and  peace I should point out that the Continent of Europe is a mosaic of nationalities, religions, cultures, traditions, a whole range of areas which actually create the kind of progress civilisation can make. To think of it in terms of a single culture, a single contribution, is a denial of that diversity. I am quite certain that Irish people do not want to lose their unique cultural tradition which, in itself, is fragmented into other traditions. Neither do the French and the various traditions obtaining within their community, or the Belgians; one could go on and on. It is important that we bear that in mind. Otherwise we will end up with the type of view that there is a homogeneous Continent which has a single view, representing a single culture, even a single religion.
I heard Deputy Barry speak about Europe being based on Christian principles. Christian principles are fine but there are others equally valid in the religious context which are not Christian. There are also secular values equally valid. We must endeavour to break out of this insularity which constricts our thinking in relation to the values Europe can project and protect, also to avoid the idea that in some way Europe will become a super power in the not too distant future, that in some way this small island will be up there with the big boys.
Obviously it is a coincidence that the Summit on Saturday last — to discuss the issue of German unification with all the questions that poses of the military status of a future united Germany — should have been held in the only neutral State of the European Community. It is also of interest that, while the meeting was called on the issue of German unification, the question of political union emerged at the top of the agenda, let it be said, very much on the insistence of the West German and French Governments, presumably in their interests.
I am concerned that the moves towards German unification are proceeding at a pace which does not allow of adequate consideration of all the issues involved. What will be the military status of the  territory currently comprising the German Democratic Republic? Will a unified Germany be a member of NATO? Will it be neutral, non-aligned, or part of a new security network? These are questions which apparently are now left to West Germany to decide. Indeed, the role which East Germany will have seems very vague. We will have a representative of the East German Government in Ireland over the weekend who is endeavouring to establish that East Germany is a sovereign state with rights of its own and will not allow itself simply to be gobbled up, on the one hand, by West Germany and, subsequently, by the European Community; that it does have rights and concerns, must be treated as an equal and not merely as some appendage to be drawn into the European Community because it extends the market somewhat more and provides a few more opportunities for business to develop, for gross domestic product to rise and so on.
These questions are far from resolved. Yet, they have a fundamental bearing on the future arrangements of the entire European Community. They will also greatly affect the direction in which future Community security policy generally develops. I might refer to the following comment made by the Taoiseach in the course of his statement this morning:
I would also like to emphasise that our discussions at present relate to an economic, social and political Community. With regard to security, as I understand the position of our Community partners, it is that they wish the NATO alliance and their membership of it to continue. They also wish to have the US to continue to be involved in European defence through the NATO alliance. It is in that forum that they discuss defence and military matters.
It may be that the Taoiseach was simply trying to be clever in dodging the question of the military aspects of security increasingly on the agenda of the European Community but it seems to me also by  his expression “as I understand the position of our Community partners, it is that they wish the NATO alliance and their membership of it to continue” he does not enunciate the Government view of what is their attitude to NATO; whether they will be taking a position that NATO is now redundant as is the Warsaw Pact. It is totally inadequate for the Taoiseach to come into this House and talk about the Summit of Saturday last — which dealt with the question of German unification, its implications, of European political union — and say simply that, as he understands the position of the other members of the EC, NATO should remain in place and so on. That is a totally inadequate response on his part in informing this House of what took place at that Summit. Once again it highlights the urgent need for a forum of this House to address such questions. It is quite extraordinary, for instance, that the parties in this House, certainly my party, over the years have failed to get a briefing from the Department of Foreign Affairs on their attitudes to various international issues. Some few years ago when I requested such a briefing I was told: “We do not do that kind of thing; we are responsible directly to the Government”.
Interestingly, in the European Parliament, the Department of Foreign Affairs provide a very useful form of briefing to Irish Members. For instance, the new European Communities Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs provided me with a briefing on the Martin report dated 2 March 1990, a useful briefing, comprising a summary of the position to date. Naturally I did not agree with its recommendations but it was useful information to have. I wonder why it is that our Government refuse to brief Opposition parties severally in this House. There is a total, blanket denial of information resulting in Deputies of this House having to scratch around to ascertain what is going on, to ascertain what is the attitude of Government. We have Question Time, based on the principle that a Minister will divulge as little as he can as rarely as he can. It is just not satisfactory in view of the major changes  taking place in Europe, both East and West.
On the economic front the implications of unification of Germany are substantial. Various economic commentators have warned of the danger of an increase in German and European Community inflation levels, the risk of interest rates rising still higher. There are questions related to diversion of investment within the Community and away from existing programmes in developing countries. It would be naive to assume that the so-called integration of the German Democractic Republic into the Community — if the various reports on economic reorganisation and reinvestment are correct — will not involve at least some diversion of funds currently allocated for less developed regions. While the communiqué issued after the Summit on Saturday last stated that costs will be borne by the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic will still be entitled to the same treatment as other member states, as would be their right as a member of the Community. There is no indication of what stance the Taoiseach took on the question of Irish neutrality and our economic interests. Neither is there any indication in the details of the conference or press coverage if any guarantees were provided on the matter.
I am further concerned that the West German Government in their desire to bring about a rapid completion of the unification process are excluding other member states from full involvement in the process. While I note the Bonn Government have pledged to keep the Community fully informed on aspects of the unification process which directly affect or impinge on the Community, how is direct impingement to be defined? Will it be defined by the European Community or by the West German Government? Given the substantial financial considerations involved in that process I note in particular Chancellor Kohl's direct rejection of special financial support from the Community for the processs. This would have entitled the Community to a greater involvement and  I suspect the reason behind rejecting the aid was that they did not want to have the European Community interfering, as they would see it, in the process of absorbing East Germany into West Germany.
Let me point out at this juncture that we would be foolish if we allowed ourselves be led to believe that everyone in East Germany is cock-a-hoop about unification with West Germany. Protests have been mounted all over the place on the need to defend the social advances which have been made in East Germany. We should bear this in mind. In relation to the unification of Germany, the fact is there is now an opportunity to replace the so-called Cold War structures with a pan-European system more in tune with the needs of the nineties. For all the talk about the end of the Cold War, and I am very happy that the tensions between East and West have been reduced to a large extent, the reality is that the tanks and missiles are still in place and it is clear that for a long time to come, even if substantial reductions are made in arms, we will have this iron wall of tanks and missiles between East and West.
If this country of ours simply nods its head in agreement with the proposal to retain NATO and the consequent retention of the Warsaw Pact a demilitarised Europe, never mind a demilitarised Germany, is an unreal dream. There is a real risk that the West will conclude that they have won the Cold War and there is no longer a need to do anything other than fiddle around with the edges of the structures which have existed for the past 50 years. This to my mind is a little Europe approach and wastes a unique opportunity to create an outward looking society devoid of the confrontational power blocks which have existed for so long and which would free resources for application to very desirable social objectives in both East and West.
It is important that German unity be seen as a process rather than as an over-night event. In any negotiations it is vital that East Germany be recognised as a sovereign state with equal negotiating  rights while the educational, political, social and cultural achievements of the peoples of the two Germanies should not be simply washed away. The nature of a unified Germany is of vital interest to more than just the super powers and Germany itself. It should not automatically be assumed that the old style NATO alliance should automatically take over East Germany and continue in the same outdated fashion. Having been a symbol of power block politics in the past a new demilitarised and neutral Germany within a pan-European security structure can — if a unique opportunity is grasped — become a beacon of hope, peace and disarmament throughout the world.
I wish to refer briefly to the question of 1992 and the concerns which we have to address if we are not to be left on the sidelines in the developments which are taking place. We need to exert influence on a range of issues if we are to be partners in Europe and to ensure that the social constraints on capital which have existed to a greater or lesser degree in various member states up to now should be maintained and strengthened both nationally and at European level. It was for this purpose that the idea of a Social Charter for citizens was promoted in the first place. This Social Charter has been consistently watered down and reduced to a much narrower concept of a Social Charter for workers which does very little to improve their lot. We have now reached a position where an implementation programme is being developed but judging from the debates in the European Parliament and the various compromises being reached at that level it is clear that the employer organisations have far more clout with governments, the Commission and the European Council than do the trade union movement or any of the other social organisations concerned with ensuring people are not exploited by capital.
Another question which needs to be addressed is the question of cohesion. As I understand it, this is an attempt to ensure the under-developed regions of the Community are assisted in catching up with the more developed regions and  that Structural Funds are provided by the Community in trying to achieve this. It is clear that the funding provided by the European Community to this country is consistently used by the Government to replace central Government funding for projects already being funded.
I am very concerned about a report which I received recently that the Government have agreed that Ireland no longer be regarded as an objective 1 country, that the Commission has decided to redesignate Ireland at a higher level and the Government have agreed with this. I ask the Government to announce before the end of this debate or at some point soon what their attitude to these Commission proposals is. As I understand it, the Government have already agreed with the proposal that Ireland no longer be an objective 1 country, that the eastern seaboard be designated as an objective 3 or 4 region with the rest of the country being designated an objective 4, 5 or 5b region. This is a serious question and I ask the Government to address it in a serious way as it will have major implications in terms of the assistance this country will get from the European Community so that we do not continue to live on charity, as I indicated elsewhere, but rather are brought up to a level where we can exist as equals within the Community.
The question of European political union has emerged quite suddenly as a major topic for a variety of reasons. Indeed The Workers' Party are favourably disposed towards a federal type European union. The political debate about such a union, however, has not yet taken place here; it has not been debated to any significant extent. We end up discussing summits after the event instead of before they take place. Two months ago the Government refused to allow the formation of a foreign affairs committee. Decisions on the question of European union at the Dublin summit will be made and one wonders about the Government's blueprint going into that meeting. Deputy Quinn suggested that as far as he can see they do not have a blueprint, they do not know where they are going. I  suspect that they have a vague idea about where they are going — they will go where the other 11 go and they are not particularly concerned to shape political union one way or the other.
It is important, therefore, that this House should have an opportunity to debate that issue. When will we be informed of the progress being made on developing the Irish Government's stance on this issue? When will proposals be brought before the Dáil so that we can have a thorough debate and tease out the implications for Irish neutrality and for Ireland's status and position vis-à-vis the various Community institutions?
The communiqué issued at the weekend expresses satisfaction with progress achieved so far towards establishing the Single Market, but I cannot share this optimistic analysis in view of the slowness and ineffectiveness of the measures to reflect the social dimension which I mentioned earlier. We do have a European social charter which has been considerably watered down. The texts which have already come before the Council to implement it — for instance, on the companies statute rights of migrant workers and those of transnational companies — are proceeding extremely slowly. There is need for implementation of programmes to assist less developed regions and this will be all the more important in the context of closer economic contact between the Community and the East European States.
Attention to the social dimension is all the more vital given the speeding up of moves towards economic and monetary union. It is quite unacceptable that the process of EMU should be accelerated while social policy aspects of the Community are being more and more ignored. Any attempt to implement EMU without the full parallel development of social policy will prove disastrous for people in Ireland and other peripheral regions of the Community. There is clearly an attempt to consign the social dimension to the status of an accessory to other developments concerning economic matters. This is clearly a retreat from the  understanding that social rights and protection for citizens should receive high priority in the 1992 process. It represents a further surrender to the demands of capital restructuring with the likelihood of an expansion of EC companies into countries of Eastern Europe where trade union structures and rights seem to be considerably weakened as a result of the recent changes in those countries. The danger of increased unemployment accompanied by a reduction in the standard of working conditions and wages for workers in member states is very real. There is, therefore, a need for immediate prioritising of these issues by the institutions of the Community.
In the introduction to the Social Charter there is a reference to the social development and social cohesion having the same importance as economic and monetary union. We cannot accept the creation of an Internal Market which will provide even greater wealth for multinationals but tolerate a huge level of unemployment, diminished social rights for workers and even wider income gaps between different regions of the Community.
Finally, the issue of tackling income gaps and differentials in the Community deserves further specific consideration. The report by the NESC on Ireland's performance since joining the EC and our economic prospects after 1992 should have brought a dose of reality to the 1992 debate. Our income per head of population compared to the Community average was 61.8 per cent. Today it is virtually unchanged at 62.3 per cent. Unemployment then was 80,000. Today it stands at three times that figure, while emigration then was negligible and has risen to close to 50,000 annually as we start into the nineties. If this disappointing performance is not to be repeated in the process of bringing about Internal Market and economic and monetary union, then crucial decisions must be taken and fought for at European level.
My understanding is that the European Commission are prepared to allow  member states whose average income per head is 75 per cent or less of the EC average to take specific measures to assist industrialisation and development of their economies. This Government and others have shown a remarkable reluctance to take these kinds of initiatives. One must ask why. The answer quite clearly is that they are ideologically opposed to such intervention. There is need, in particular, for the carrot and stick approach to multinationals in that they have failed to develop linkages with Irish firms and to use Irish inputs. Government policy so far has been all carrot and no stick. For instance, why not let the level of grants payable, or even the level of tax such companies pay, be determined by the extent of Irish inputs? I mention this as an example of how the Government are failing to utilise the potential within the EC structures to benefit the Irish economy. It would seem we are in danger of repeating the same ineffectual and incompetent approach to the Internal Market and the EMU.
There is a need to push for a revamped approach to industrial policy within the Community as a whole. We should be pressing for a common industrial policy which could be utilised to boost the development of indigenous industry in Ireland and in other peripheral States which would ensure that we would be less dependent on mobile international investment. There is further cause for concern in the effects on relations with and assistance to developing countries that result from developments in Eastern Europe and the increased economic contact with and investment in these countries by the Community.
In the 1990 legislative programme between the Commission and the European Parliament, there is reference to the inclusion of appropriate resources in the Community budget for co-operation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The word “resources” is missing in relation to countries in Asia and Latin America. Last weekend's statement from the meeting of the European Council repeats the same emphasis specifying in  detail plans for new economic and financial involvement with Eastern European countries adding that it will pursue its special relationship with ACP countries. To my mind there is a clear need to do more than pursue existing relationships with the least developed States. There is a need to agree, as a matter of urgency, an increased financial commitment to these countries to tackle problems, such as recurring horrific famine we see in Ethiopia, and to tackle the endemic underdevelopment of so many African countries.
One case which convinces me that investment in Eastern Europe is already affecting assistance to the Third World concerns a health project sanctioned in Tanzania which an Irish aid agency was due to carry out. This project had been cancelled at the pre-contract stage late last year and despite questioning by me in the European Parliament on the matter and assurances that it would be sorted out, the issue of funding for this project has still not been sorted out. This is a clear indication of the kind of shift in thinking that has taken place with regard to aid.
I wonder, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, how much time I have left.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy will be required to finish at about 1.50 p.m.
Proinsias De Rossa: In view of the time available to me, I would like to return to the question of political union. I cannot accept that the preparatory work for discussions on the vital issue of European political union should be carried out solely by Foreign Ministers and that our Parliament may have no input whatsoever into the formulation of policies and strategies on the proposed political union. I hope the Taoiseach can clarify his position on the matter and inform us when it will be debated and decided on by this House.
The Workers' Party have called on numerous occasions for the development of an Oireachtas foreign affairs committee to deal with issues relating to Irish  foreign policy, but effectively, we have failed to make any progress in this area. I now argue that there is a need for a specific Oireachtas all-party committee to investigate and deal with the issue of European political union and I call on the Taoiseach to confirm his attitude to the establishment of such a committee and to state whether he is in favour of it. If he is not in favour of it, he should state why he does not regard the Members of this House as competent to deal with such an important issue which has a bearing on the future of Irish people and indeed the future of this Parliament.
Given that the Dáil has been effectively ignored on this issue so far, the immediate question that arises is the role of national parliaments in the event of political union occurring in Europe. To what degree will power be ceded to European institutions? What will be the interrelationship between the Commission, the Council and the European parliament? The fundamental objective has to be a more democratic Europe, but how are we to achieve this? At present there is no democratic accountability to the citizens of Europe. The European Parliament, although elected by the citizens of Europe, must be given real democratic powers. Allowing 15 minutes discussion on the Parliament before the beginning of a summit is not acceptable or adequate. Any move towards political union must go hand-in-hand with the granting of greater powers to the European Parliament and the direct involvement of citizens in decision-making and the protection of their democratic rights to participate from the bottom up.
Political union has also major consequences for Irish neutrality. If the Taoiseach's recent remarks about Irish neutrality being no longer relevant to the Europe of today are anything to go by, there is a vital need for the Dáil and Seanad to be allowed to express their views on how this core political value is to be treated. This does not mean that we must wrap neutrality in cottonwool and decide it is an untouchable dogma or that it must be preserved in its existing form for all time. However, it means that  it is a value that is important in the current world and we must address the question as to how it can be a positive tool in the hands of our Government at international level?
Irish foreign policy should be geared towards promoting a debate on the creation of a non-nuclear Europe and how countries like Ireland, Austria and Finland can use their experience of neutrality to bring about the dismantling of the now redundant Warsaw and NATO pact alliances or how Germany could be unified as a demilitarised and neutral country as a model for a future demilitarised Europe. We should look at the question of Irish neutrality in the context of the future of overall European security. Ireland should use its neutral status to work towards the creation of a Common European home and the concept of a “security community” where there would be no expectation or toleration for the use of military force between states on the Continent. It is important to stress the need to set up a committee to examine the various options open to us in the field of European political union. I urge the Government representative who will close this debate to address that question as well as the other matters I have raised.
There are one or two other items I wish to raise before I conclude. First, I wish to address the issue of COCOM which was debated in the European Parliament quite recently. Countries who have signed the COCOM agreement have refused to transfer technology to Eastern European countries. Ireland is not formally a member of this committee and is not formally bound by its rules. Indeed, the Irish Government deny that they apply the COCOM restrictions. However, it is well known that various Government agencies scrutinise exports of high technology equipment to countries who are out of favour with the United States. I know, for instance that Irish customs officials recently refused to allow the export of medical equipment to a Latin American country solely because the US still dislike the political views of that country. In addition, Ireland is  heavily dependent on investment by transnational companies, particularly in the high technology area and the effects of the COCOM agreement are also felt here. Subsidiaries of some multinational companies are specifically precluded from exporting their products to the developing countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere with a consequent loss to the Irish economy.
Apart from the military objective, these restraints on free trade were used as a particularly objectionable form of protectionism for home-based industries by the US. They, therefore, had the dual effect of contravening Ireland's neutrality, which is being cited as the reason Ireland is not a COCOM signatory, as well as depriving the Irish economy of expansion opportunities with a consequent loss of jobs in these industries, which continue to be heavily subvented by the Irish taxpayer. This is an important issue. I know the Irish Government have consistently said they are not involved in COCOM but it is clear that COCOM rules apply to industries operating in Ireland. It is time we sought the support of other Euopean countries and I know there is considerable support for the idea of loosening up the COCOM arrangement.
I also wish to comment on our National Development Plan which was submitted to and adopted by the Commission. At the time it was submitted there was considerable concern that it had been developed without any democratic input by local organisations and people on the ground and that the committees which had been established at local level did not give adequate opportunities for input by the people on the ground. I mention this point because the community workers' co-op, who took a leading role in fighting for democratic input into the plan, lodged a complaint with the European Community to the effect that the Government were in breach of EC rules and regulations with regard to people having the right to have an input into the programme. The Committee on Petitions have agreed to accept the complaint for investigation. It is important that the  Government take on board that they were wrong in not allowing the type of input they should have had and in creating the monitoring committees which are in place to monitor the implementation of the plan, and are a non-democratic form of monitoring. It is important the Government recognise that and take steps to change it before the European Parliament finds them in breach of EC regulations.
Mrs. Owen: Like other speakers, I welcome the fact that we are having this debate here today. Of course there is a necessity, on the part of the Taoiseach, to have such a debate following a Summit such as we had here last weekend. I would not like to find that in some future debate it is thrown at us that we had an opportunity to have a day long debate about European issues, with our being asked why we are whingeing about the lack of a forum to discuss foreign affairs issues, about our not having a foreign affairs committee. I am laying down the marker that this debate today should not be used in that way by the Minister for Foreign Affairs or by any other Minister on the Government side to say: “Look how wonderful we are, look how much democracy we are allowing you, look how much input we are allowing you.” As other speakers have said, a forum is required to debate this matter and this forum of the full Dáil is not a good way to deal with some of the very complex issues that are arising in the changing face of Europe. I would again plead with the Minister for Foreign Affairs to reconsider the decision he made in this House of not allowing us to participate at an effective level whereby we could find areas of common consensus, help to change each other's minds, if that is what we wish to do, and bring about a comprehensive involvement of the Dáil and Seanad in foreign affairs issues.
I gave a wry smile when I read the opening line of the Taoiseach's speech in which he said he invited people to the Summit. That was a little disingenuous. I have a recollection that the call for the Summit to discuss German reunification  initially emanated from President Kohl who is quite clearly the very dominant leader in Europe at the moment, and that is to be understood in view of the central position of Germany and the fact that it is the reunification of Germany that is exercising our minds in Europe at present. Undoubtedly, the Taoiseach, in his role as President, invited people.
I took the time last night while preparing for this debate to take out the dictionary and have a look at the definition of “chairman” and of “president”. There was a very clear reasoning behind calling the person in charge of the affairs of the Community each six months a president as opposed to a chairman. The dictionary says a chairman is somebody who chairs or presides over a meeting but there is a further definition for the word “president” or the word, “preside”. I believe this role is not being taken on now by the Taoiseach, as President. It says a president is somebody who presides over a meeting but it also says it is somebody who exercises control and authority. I submit that the Taoiseach, as President, has been lacking in that role. There is no doubt in my mind that when he took over the Presidency of the EC he hijacked it in a way that was never meant to be done — totally on a PR front. Sadly, it took a number of weeks for any journalist or media person to come out openly and say that that was what was happening. The first person who had the courage to say so was Seán Flynn in The Irish Times. He began to punch holes in the PR facade that was being built around the Presidency.
We took over the Presidency inexorably as night follows day because our country begins with the letter “I”. We will take over the Presidency again when the alphabet comes around to “I” again, Italy will follow us and so on. That does not mean that we should just say we have taken over the Presidency and that, therefore, we should do something about it. We have a responsibility to make a mark during our Presidency. I think, when the history books are written, the  mark that is being made during this Presidency will not be as great as the hype and the PR job that was done on it will show.
I do not wish to be unpatriotic. There is a sort of unwritten principle that when Ministers go abroad, they represent the people of Ireland: they do not represent Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. For that reason I feel let down. The Taoiseach is representing all the people of Ireland as President of the Community. He is not just representing himself as a person or representing his party or trying to bring up their ratings in the polls. He is representing all the people who voted either for or against the Single European Act and he must not forget that. He must not imagine himself as some monster presidential force moving through Europe. He runs the risk, in doing that, of being equated to a leader in an African country who just went wild in his wish to be seen as some kind of Deity. He has to guard against that because he owes it to the people of Ireland. He must make an impact in this six months that will improve the Community.
Mrs. Owen: Deputy Roche will have his chance to have a go at me if that is what he wants to do. If I am touching a raw nerve, he will perhaps have a chance to expose that nerve further. I am reminded of the huge impact Ireland made in its Presidency in 1984 when the then Senator Jim Dooge was President of the Council of Ministers and was responsible for bringing about the details of the Single European Act, a major moving forward of the European Community. During the 1984 Presidency the Government here were responsible for bringing forward the so-called Dublin plan which was a major response to the famine in Africa. It is still referred to as the Dublin plan and has become part of the working documents and work of the Presidency during 1984.
All of us as Irish citizens want to be able to look back on this six months and see what was achieved, and I am quite  sure the Taoiseach would like that, too. I hope, that at the end of the six months it will not be just said that it certainly was a very high profile Presidency, that there were lots of pictures in the papers, a lot of wonderful dinners and so on. It is more than that and we must make it clear to the Government that we want them to act for us.
The Summit that was held last weekend was very important and I am very glad it took place. I do not think it was the unqualified success we are meant to believe it was but on the other hand I will not run it down to the extent that some people would like to. It is a part of the process. During our six months maybe the process will not go as far as we would like and we cannot make any major announcements but that happens to be the way the Presidency works. There is a certain amount of luck involved in the time at which you take over the Presidency of the Community. We may hold the Presidency when certain matters are moving forward very fast. The better Presidencies will deal with the contingencies of the day as they see them when they hold the Presidency. We are all trying to overcome each other with our superlatives that this is the most historical event and that the most fundamental, far-reaching changes have taken place.
One of the best statements I have seen on what has happened in Europe, particularly in Germany, and how it came about is contained in a speech made by the Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany and formerly Minister of Finance, Dr. Gerhard Stoltenberg, at the London School of Economics in February of this year. I would commend people who have not had a chance to see this statement to read it. I find it a very clear expose of Germany in its growth post war. I will quote one piece from it that particularly struck me and that seems to crystallise what has happened.
The dynamics of the process of European unification and the growing attractiveness of free Europe are certainly among the factors that have led  to dramatic changes in the formerly socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, changes which we as Germans are noting and following with special hopes and expectations. The reasons which may have been ultimately decisive for the fundamental change in world politics was marked out by Ludwig Erhard, a former longtime chancellor in West Germany almost 30 years ago when he said that “as time goes on, the Russian leaders may arrive at the conviction that they are spending too much money on weapons, on defence. They might realise that they cannot force their people any longer to follow them on this road”. Gorbachev has recognised this and has drawn his conclusions from it. This is his historic achievement, regardless of how the situation now develops.
That shows that the process we are now seeing is not something that has happened overnight and that we in the Community can take some of the credit for what has happened. In our efforts to try to get a European Community as it now exists we have helped to make the policies we have created more attractive and this has moved the people of those counties where there were such repressive Governments towards claiming their own self-determination and independence.
The whole question of where we are now and where these exciting, fundamental and far reaching changes are leading us makes us, as Europeans, look to ourselves to see whether we are just mouthing platitudes about how we would like to see things progress and how we would like to see everybody participate in a Community.
I say to the Taoiseach, to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, and all the other Ministers of the Government the time has now come to put into practice the very fine speeches which are made in this House and elsewhere, helped probably by the Ministers but written by civil servants who see a policy formation and some bright changes in Europe. Now is the time to make them  act. They cannot just remain words on paper.
I refer to what the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Collins, said in the European Parliament on 16 January 1990 in his Presidency address there. He talked about his aims during the Presidency and said: “We must work to make our Community relevant to all our citizens”. These are not just words. They have to be acted on. European integration will mean little if it does not bring real and tangible benefits to our people and improvements in their living and working conditions. These are wonderful sentiments, we would all espouse them but they are no use as long as they remain as typed words on the script. They must be acted on. By his actions and the actions of the Government we will judge, and they will judged in future times, as to whether they actually meant that they want to make the Community relevant to all its people.
That is the reason I was so disappointed, and continue to be, at the messages I am getting from the Taoiseach and his Ministers. We should at least have an opinion on what political union means. Margaret Thatcher said at the weekend political union means different things to different people; at least it means something to her and to other leaders in Europe. Let it mean something and let us hear what it means to the Taoiseach and to the Government. I have not heard — and I do not know whether any other Members here have heard — a definition. I was disappointed that even a base document for the Summit of last weekend was not available from the Presidency. That is the difference between chairing a meeting and presiding; a president of a meeting exercises control and authority, takes initiatives and moves forward — even if they are small steps forward.
It was disappointing to read in the very good coverage in The Irish Times of 30 April 1990 that there were no positions stated. The Taoiseach was just there in his role as a chairman making sure that people got their opportunity to speak, etc. His position should be more than that. I hope that before the end of the  Presidency and the next Summit he will take a more dominant and initiating role in the job he is doing. All we hear is what political union is not. We do not think the Irish Government are opposed to the kind of common security policy favoured in France, West Germany and Belgium; they are opposed to the plan to give greater powers to the European Parliament. The Irish Government cannot be opposed to giving greater control and power to the European Parliament because they are bound by the law, the Single European Act which we ratified by referendum, which intrinsically includes an increased power for the European Parliament. The Government cannot take such a stand because it would be illegal. The Single European Act was adopted by a vote of the people and not just the select benches of this House. Throughout the Single European Act the role of the European Parliament is referred to, the role of the European Parliament and the co-operation that has to be sought with the European Parliament. Article 7.2 (b) states:
The Council's common position shall be communicated to the European Parliament. The Council and the Commission shall inform the European Parliament fully of the reasons which led the Council to adopt its common position ...
If, within three months of such communication, the European Parliament approves this common position or has not taken a decision ... the Council shall definitively adopt the Act ...
The European Parliament can take a decision and convey that decision to the Commission.
The European Parliament may within a period of three months, by an absolute majority of its component members propose amendments to the Council. If the Council does not agree with those amendments they must come and be answerable to the Parliament. If they are overruling a decision of the Parliament they can only do so with a unaminous decision of the Council. Throughout the Act there are  references to the co-operation and the need to go to the European Parliament.
If the Taoiseach thinks the European Parliament is not worth that much and he does not want to include it, perhaps his thinking is coloured by the fact that his members belong to such an insignificant group in the European Parliament and have no greater power and control. The Labour Party belong to the largest group and the Fine Gael Party belong to the second largest group and our members are not insignificant in the Parliament. They play their part in forming opinion, in changing opinion and participating in the relevant debates in the European Parliament forum. Perhaps the Government should look at the membership of their own European Parliament Members in a particular group and not be reported as saying that the 15 European Members, because it is such a small number, have only a marginal influence in the 518 member assembly.
This issue of political union has to be tackled, we have to debate it. For me political union does not mean a subsuming or a subjugation of our independence and our nationality, it does not mean I can no longer say I am an Irishwoman that I have to say I am a European woman. I want to be an Irishwoman until I die. What it does mean is that there can be areas of common policies, there can be fundamental base lines of human rights and civil rights laid down on a macro-European basis that allows the citizens of Europe to feel a unity with each other without subjugating their own nationality, identity and patriotism to their own country. The Single European Act allows for all that. The General Declaration on Articles 13 to 19 of the Single European Act states that:
Nothing in these provisions shall affect the right of Member States to take such measures as they consider necessary for ... controlling immigration from third countries, and to combat terrorism, crime, the traffic in drugs and illicit trading in works of art and antiques.
There are many similar type clauses in  the Act. The concept of political union does not mean subjugation of ourselves into one big polyglot mess. We can continue to have our nationality but we have to face up to the reality that we are in the European Community and there has to be common positions on some things. That is the starting off ground of finding political unity.
I should like to say a few words on the changes which are taking place. They are exciting but they have also exposed the sad underbelly of suffering and repression that has existed in the Eastern European countries. Perhaps some or all of us knew that something like this was going on in these countries but because we did not have access to information we tended to ignore it. Now that it has been exposed we have to assist. This will mean sacrifices on our part. I do not wish — and I join with Deputy De Rossa — that in order to rectify problems and assist these countries that the less well off and developing countries have to bear the burden. We can afford to make some sacrifices. Generosity is what we call for from Europe in solving these problems. Sacrifices will have to be made and prices will have to be paid, but let us make these sacrifices and see them through.
Mr. Roche: Whatever about other Members of this House not being aware of the suffering, deprivation and denial of human rights in Eastern Europe, the last person who can claim to be ignorant of that is Deputy De Rossa, given his long fraternal linkages with the odious regimes that were there. There were those of us in this House who took enough time over the years to travel to Eastern Europe to acquaint ourselves at first hand with those facts. I cannot understand for the life of me why Deputy Owen would find kindredship, but then she must choose her own friends.
At 4 p.m. on Wednesday next we observe the 40th anniversary of one of the most momentous events in the history of Europe as a continent. On 9 May 1950, a Tuesday, at 4 p.m., the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, announced  to a surprised audience that his Government and the Government of Germany were to place their entire coal and steel production under the control of a common high authority, relinquishing national sovereignty in the two industries that made war possible. This is essential. Every time we speak about a union or a move to further union, we will always speak about the issue of sovereignty. As you move from one towards the other sovereignty is the issue you focus on.
Schuman had succumbed to the logic of Jean Monnet who suggested that the best way to resolve the problem between France and Germany was to “invert the problem”, not so much to ban war, which is an impossibility, but to surrender to a common community the means of waging war. Out of Schuman's initiative came the Treaty of Paris, the 39th anniversary of which has just passed largely unobserved in this country. The Treaty of Paris established the Coal and Steel Community which was the forerunner and model of the present European Communities.
The modern movement towards a united Europe was born out of the ashes of a Europe that had been devastated by war. A whole generation of people had been subjected to the trauma of war. By the late forties survival was the imperative. The US — it is strange that nobody ever bothers to recognise their generosity in these debates — had, through the Marshall Plan and its encouraging — indeed forcing the establishment of the OEEC, supported post-war reconstruction.
However, by May 1950 another threat was facing Europe. To the East an empire as odious as the facist empire was emerging, an empire which was careless of human rights, contemptuous of democracy and contemptuous of freedom. The ideology of Stalinist communism had crushed any hope of post-war democracy in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Freedom was to be denied still to the people of Latvia and Estonia, the Baltic States and the Balkans. We should remember when we discuss European union and the recent momentous events — here I am at one with Deputy Owen — that we should welcome the recognition of how wrong the ideology in the East was. With the US standing down its armies in Europe at that time and regrouping, to their discredit, in SouthEast Asia following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, Europe's destiny was once again placed, somewhat unwillingly in European hands.
The main bulwark against the threat of communist domination over the years was, oddly, not to be NATO. The latent threat of communist imperialism never really threatened the Western democracies because of their long history in democracy. Rather the bulwark against the communist spread was the common Community which had been founded initially to prevent war within Western Europe by the nations of Western Europe themselves. Peace in Western Europe in the last 45 years has been more attributable to the economic and social progress which flowed from the ECSC, from the Schumann initiatives and later from the EC than from standing armies or military alliances, though there is no doubt that standing armies and military alliances played their part in that peace. The essential peace we have enjoyed in Western Europe was due to the fact that nations had sufficient foresight to see that there were common realities that should be striven for. Nations understood that the absolute adherence to national sovereignty had led previously to difficulties and some new path had to emerge. The odd thing is that the communist bloc threat under the new tsars was the initiator in many ways, the external catalyst, of the European peace we have observed. In an ironic way then the march of European unity is historically bracketed to the rise and decline of communism.
The imperative to form new arrangements in EC States came initially as a part response to the growing threat of communist dominance. The malaise which the EC descended into in recent times came from a perceived decline of that threat from the thawing of the cold  war. The irony now is that the disintegration of communism in the Central European States and in particular the rebirth of democracy in Eastern Germany has become the new catalyst for discussion on European integration in general and political union between the 12 member states of the EC in particular.
Let me stray momentarily from this main point. There is a domestic irony in all of this in that, while Eastern Europe had become the catalyst for discussions on democratic union in Dublin Castle last week, the awakening of democracy in Eastern Europe had such little impact on Stalin's camp followers at their weekend soiree at the RDS. When the communist parties of Hungary, East Germany, Romania and elsewhere are seeking fig leaves to cover their shame, or new titles, or simply doing the decent thing and disbanding altogether, our very own, The Workers' Party, were still clinging to the dogma of democratic centralism, whatever that means, to the inherently undemocratic device of secret branches within workplaces and to their self-admitted secret cells in our public service institutions. Shame on them. However, I digress somewhat and there will be times and other places when we can consider the proclivities of The Workers' Party——
Mr. Byrne: Maybe the Deputy will expose the members of Taca.
Mr. Roche: ——and the De Rossa confessions at the weekend. The events in Eastern Europe and their impact have been comprehensively outlined in the Taoiseach's statement. We are, as the Taoiseach said, living in times of major change. The conjunction of Ireland's Presidency and the events in Eastern Europe and in particular in East Germany have placed the Irish Presidency in a central role in these events. We have been justifiably proud of the role played by the Irish Presidency and every Irish person who is not blinkered by political prejudice must share the pride felt on this side of the House in the energy and  statesmanship shown by our Taoiseach in his handling of these events.
I have listened to some of the contributions and particularly the last contribution from Fine Gael, and I think it is a great pity that such a proportion of the time in this important debate has been wasted on invective, abuse and a bigoted interpretation on recent events. However, that is for themselves.
I turn now to an aspect of all these events which I think particularly important, that is the economic implications of the movement we are now witnessing both for Europe and for Ireland. The momentous developments of the last year in Eastern Europe have completely changed the economic conditions on the Continent. The key players in the EC are looking to such former centrally planned economies as Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia as attractive locations in which to invest their capital. Recent days have witnessed the agreement between East and West Germany on monetary union. This will naturally have implications for investment decisions of West German industrialists and financial institutions. East Germany is seen as the gateway to Eastern Europe and this is a decisive factor in the decisions of investors. While we welcome the ending of the partition of Germany, not least because it throws into higher relief the anomaly of Ireland's division, it is to be hoped that German monetary union will not have an adverse effect on this country. In their zeal to unify their country and convert millions of Ostmarks into Deutsche Marks, the Germans must exercise caution lest inflationary pressures rise on the Deutsche Mark. This could force up German interest rates and, because of our close connection with the Deutsche Mark in the EMS, it could also have an adverse effect on rates here and undermine our current economic recovery. We must face those realities.
It should be recalled that over the years many West German companies have established operations in East Germany and with the convertibility of the Ostmark those companies are well placed  to greatly expand their power in the marketplace. Those who doubt this should look at the activities of astute Japanese investors in the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall last year. Seeing the potential for growth in East Germany, they pumped millions, indeed billions, of yen into West German publicly-quoted companies, particularly companies with connections in East Germany, and drove up share prices dramatically on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Clearly, they want to have a share in the anticipated rise in the prosperity of West German companies which emerges from the unification of that country.
The German banks are straining at the bit to set their operations in place in East Germany. Institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Commerz Bank and Dresdner Bank, recognising the commercial banking opportunities present by the development of a new market economy, are set to allocate vast resources to the establishment of their presence. Indeed, the Dresdner Bank is so enthused by the prospects that, according to reports in one German newspaper, it has acquired 35 prefabricated branches ready to establish them in East Germany in order to get ahead of competitors. Within the EC the attractions of East Germany and Eastern Europe generally have not been recognised by the Germans alone. Farseeing French and Italian companies and financial institutions have laid plans for projects of their own.
Among the leading EFTA countries, Austria has moved to exploit opportunities within the Single Market and in Eastern Europe. As we know, the country is seeking membership of the EC and I welcome that. I agree that it would be nice to have a second neutral nation in the Community. Already Austria is undertaking a major overhaul of its company law with a view to bringing it into line with EC standards. However, we would do well to be aware of Austria's attention to the Eastern European market. In financial circles one hears that investment is taking place in Hungary by Austrian businesses and banks at an  unprecedented rate. As one commentator observed, “they seem to be trying to create an economic version of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.” Perhaps this is excessive, but when one sees the number of Austrian companies with Hungarian subsidiaries up and running some truth is discernible in the statement. Indeed, if one asks a partner of the big six consulting and auditing firms in this city about the situation in Hungary they will say that in that country there is such a heavy demand for the services of the big six firms that finding the personnel to carry out the work is a major problem. While a lot of investment is long term, the trend is clearly established. With low labour costs, no labour shortages, and a central location in continental Europe, the attractions of the “virgin market” are obvious.
In the context of the EC, the reactions of some of our partners are worthy of close attention and, in some cases, are worthy of copying. A common theme in Dutch business circles these days is that their businessmen relish the prospect of German unity. They, quite rightly, see the opportunity to expand their exports to the newly unified state. This draw to the centre of the Community is something about which we should all be aware. With our location on the periphery of the Continent, Irish businessmen will be hard-pressed to compete with their Dutch counterparts for access to the new German markets.
In recent times we have heard countries that share our peripheral location in Europe voice concerns about the levels of competition they will face. Increasingly, for example, Greek and Portuguese politicians and businessmen are coming to appreciate the harsh conditions that will exist in the liberalised markets of the greater Europe. There is a recognition among Eastern European states that, while wishing to avoid exploitation by rapacious foreigners, they are competing now for scarce capital and must make themselves as attractive to investors are possible. That is something we must be aware of. One has only to recall  that Czechoslovakia for example, has a higher national income than Greece and a more central location than Greece to understand the concerns of the Greeks about the movements.
For Ireland there is a mixture of pleasure and anxiety at the changes in Europe. As committed Europeans we welcome the moves towards a Europe of peace, co-operation and prosperity. What right-minded person would not welcome a move towards a Europe where peace, prosperity and co-operation will be the order of the day? However, as an island people dependent on exports to survive we must be aware of our changed situation. It is because of the seriousness of the economic implications of German unity that the details in the Taoiseach's speech today are particularly welcome. I regret greatly that Opposition spokespersons have not focused in the debate on those details and teased the matter out further.
More than ever we need to ensure that we have our niche markets clearly identified so that our competitive advantages, where they exist, may be exploited. There must be an appreciation that the competition for scarce investment resources and market share is set to increase greatly. The IDA and other State agencies will have to galvanise their efforts because of this. There is, indeed, a great challenge and one which we cannot afford to ignore. As the Taoiseach said, we can reap the benefits of the new Europe only if we maintain high economic discipline at home and if we negotiate the necessary continuing measures to support the achievement of cohesion within the Community. With good Government, and we have good Government, and with clear heads in common with other Europeans, we have a great deal to gain from the momentous events of the recent past.
It would be remiss of me if I concluded without taking up one or two of the points that have been made. A number of speakers, particularly Fine Gael and Labour members, decried the lack of a committee of foreign affairs. I would welcome a committee of foreign affairs but  I wonder why the spokespersons for those parties were so muted in their comment when their parties were in power. We needed a foreign affairs committee then. We had, for example, the movement to the Single European Act and that was when we should have discussed European union and not now. Yet, those Members did not have anything to say about the need for such a committee.
Mr. M. Higgins: That is not true.
Mr. Roche: Another disingenuous comment was made by Deputy Quinn. He commented on the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who had explained that he was going to a meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs, had to leave the House. I should like to put it on record that Deputy Quinn, as soon as he made his contribution, left the Chamber and I do not believe that his excuse for doing that was greater than the explanation put forward by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. M. Higgins: As spokesperson on Foreign Affairs for the Labour Party I should like to begin my contribution by putting the record straight. If the last speaker cares to look at the spring edition of Studies he will see the history of the effort to form a committee on foreign affairs. It was proposed by me when I was in the Seanad.
Mr. Roche: I did not deny that but the Deputy's party did not do anything about it when they were in power.
Mr. M. Higgins: The suggestion that the case was not made during the debate on the Single European Act is factually not true. It would be ungenerous of me, in relation to the debate that is taking place, not to compliment the Government on the logistical handling of the recent meeting in Dublin. It reflected great credit on them and on the officials responsible within the Department of Foreign Affairs and related Departments. However, in responding to the  comments on that meeting by the President in Office of the European Council, the Taoiseach, it is important that we should address some fundamental questions. The Taoiseach said that the success of the Council meeting was in having a conterminous development of arguments on the twin subjects of German unification and European political union. It is extremely important today that the citizens of Ireland hear what we are doing to enable a dialogue to take place on the content of this important concept of political union.
The fact is that we have to discuss this in a vacuum and in the absence of a foreign affairs committee or any other related structure. There is also a vacuum in relation to any dialogue that might be going on at a public level. All of that gives a very hollow ring to our use of language in terms of the evolution of European freedom, European democracy or European participation. We are, in many senses, uniquely committed to exclusion from debate on these issues through our parliamentary and public structures.
1. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if his share-holding in Aer Lingus plc has in any way diminished by reports of unreported losses of an Aer Lingus subsidiary and if he will make a statement on the matter.
3. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport when his attention was drawn to the reported discrepancy of £10 million in the accounts of an Aer Lingus subsidiary; the action which he has taken as a result; if he is satisfied that the moneys have now been accounted for; if, in light of this discrepancy, he intends to request Aer Lingus to review its procedures for supervising the activities of subsidiary companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 3 together.
The discrepancy in Aer Lingus Holidays to which the Deputy refers was brought to my attention on 24 January last by the chairman of Aer Lingus who informed me that major losses had been incurred in the Aer Lingus subsidiary company, Aer Lingus Holidays Limited. These losses, I was informed, had arisen mainly from unreported trading losses over a number of years of some £7 million.
The chairman also informed me that, in addition, it had been deemed prudent to write down the value of the company's apartment properties by some £3 million.
I was assured by the chairman that appropriate remedial action had been taken already by Aer Lingus in relation to the subsidiary company situation:
(a) a new chief executive and new financial controller had been appointed at the holiday company; and
(b) new financial and management reporting procedures had been put in place between Aer Lingus and the holiday company.
As is now public knowledge, an investigation into the reported discrepancies is being carried out by a major chartered accountancy firm, Craig Gardner, and the Garda have also been contacted by Aer Lingus. I expect shortly to receive the Craig Gardner report, and I will then consider what further action needs to be taken in this matter. Pending receipt of the report, I am not in a position to comment further in any detail.
With regard to the effect on share-holders' funds, I have been advised by Aer Lingus that as a consequence of the unreported trading losses and property revaluations, the accumulated share-holders' funds in the Aer Lingus Group  balance sheet at 31 March 1990 will be £10 million less than otherwise would have been the case. In the group's accounts for the year ended 31 March 1989 shareholders' funds were shown at some £267 million.
I am deeply concerned at the reported discrepancies in the Aer Lingus Holidays accounts and I have requested the chairman of Aer Lingus to review procedures for supervising the activities of their subsidiaries. He has informed me that the board have introduced changes in Aer Lingus to improve and strengthen the finance function, including the financial control function, at group level, in the airline itself and in all the individual subsidiaries.
I have also requested the chairman to let me have a full report on the management information systems and financial control/audit procedures now in place.
Mr. G. Mitchell: The Minister and I are used to preparing and reading sets of accounts. Will the Minister tell the House how it is possible to have unreported losses of £7 million and assets over-valued by £3 million without in some way doctoring the accounts in a fraudulent manner? If there was fraud in this case, what exactly was the involvement of the Garda? What management personnel have been removed from office as a result of these unreported losses?
Mr. S. Brennan: I share the Deputy's concern in regard to these matters. It will not be clear, until I get the Craig Gardner report, to what extent — if any — fraud was involved. I should have the Craig Gardner report formally presented to me within two weeks and I am confident that it will indicate the exact ratio — if there is one — between fraud and anything else that may have been involved in the unreported losses. We will have to see the report to ascertain how this happened.
Mr. Byrne: How did the chairman of Aer Lingus know of the problems in order to contact the Minister given that  Stokes, Kennedy, Crowley, the accountants who did the books for the past number of years, seemed to have failed to notice the discrepancy of £7 million over the three year period? Have Garda inquiries been completed and, if so, will criminal proceedings be initiated against any member of the staff? Why was it necessary to bring in an alternative set of accountants to investigate? Is the Minister happy with the performance of Stokes, Kennedy, Crowley, who are the company's accountants?
Mr. S. Brennan: I understand that the matter came to light because of inquiries from the group. Their finance department were involved and they brought in a smaller, less well known, firm of accountants in a routine manner to look at the subsidiaries as they were concerned about the reports they were getting. I am very reluctant to comment on the performance of auditors and, obviously, the reason we asked Craig Gardner to look into the matter is that they are not currently involved in the company. It is appropriate that an independent firm of accountants should now look into the situation. Let me assure the House — and particularly the public — that any action required to be taken by me or the Government — and whatever action is open to us — will be taken as urgently and as firmly as possible. In so far as I am in a legal position to do so, I will be making a very full disclosure of all the detailed information as soon as I receive the Craig Gardner report.
Mr. G. Mitchell: The Minister did not answer the question I asked as to whether officials were removed from their positions as a result of this. What rank did these officials hold? Will the Minister agree that a sum of £10 million is not peanuts? It would seem to a reasonable person that there was an attempt to cover up the fact that this had happened. Although the Minister told the House that he was contacted by the chairman of Aer Lingus on 24 January, he reportedly told a Sunday newspaper two weeks ago that this was a rumour and that “we do  not investigate rumours”. I am very concerned — perhaps the Minister will allay my fears — that there was an attempt to cover up these losses and not to let the Dáil or the public know about them.
Mr. S. Brennan: I completely reject that. When the information became available every possible action was taken with very considerable speed. The Garda were immediately informed and Craig Gardner were immediately put in place to get the full picture and to establish whether we are talking about unreported losses, fraud or a mixture of both. Correct action was taken with all due speed and, within a matter of two weeks, I will have the formal report from Craig Gardner. I assure the House and the public that I will take whatever firm action is open to me — given the legal constraints on me — without hesitation.
Mr. Byrne: Will the Minister say whether we should be congratulating the chairman of Aer Lingus who, he implied, discovered the loss with the staff of the companies involved seemingly without the assistance — at that stage — of Craig Gardner or Stokes, Kennedy, Crowley? The statement by the Minister that he intends to instruct Aer Lingus to pull out of the business altogether should be reversed, because we should congratulate them for identifying the problem. Does the Minister feel that there might possibly be a conflict of interests for many of these accountancy companies who would, presumably, be doing the books of other tourist interests? Perhaps the Minister should use the Auditor General on occasion to audit the accounts of companies like Aer Lingus when events like this come to light?
Mr. S. Brennan: I want to point out clearly that I have not instructed Aer Lingus to pull out of the holiday business. I said that when I receive the Craig Gardner report I will discuss with Aer Lingus whether they should continue in the holiday business. How firm I will be in that regard depends a lot on what the report tells me. I want to make that clear.
 In case someone who has booked holidays gets the wrong impression, I want to make it crystal clear that there will be no danger to Aer Lingus holidays this season. If members of the public are thinking of booking holidays with Aer Lingus it is perfectly in order for them to do so. There is no reason Aer Lingus should not see this season out. With regard to the future of Aer Lingus in this business, I will be very firm in this regard, but whatever I do the public will not be affected.
It is not really for me to comment on accountacy firms, but I am satisfied that the various accountancy firms looking after the books of State companies are professional, and I have no reason to believe that they are anything other than professional.
Mr. G. Mitchell: May I——
An Ceann Comhairle: I want to bring supplementaries on these two questions to finality by reason of the fact there is still another Priority Question to be disposed of within the prescribed time, which is 2.45 p.m.
Mr. G. Mitchell: May I ask the Minister——
An Ceann Comhairle: Brevity please, Deputy.
Mr. G. Mitchell: ——for the third time, he has not answered this question, if heads have rolled?
Mr. S. Brennan: No. I do not know how the Deputy would operate but I will wait for the full report before I pass sentence. If the Deputy was sitting over here I think he would do the same.
Mr. Byrne: Will the Minister——
An Ceann Comhairle: A final brief question, Deputy Bryne.
Mr. Byrne: ——inform the House whether the subsidiary company made a  profit for the Aer Lingus group of companies?
Mr. S. Brennan: That may appear to be a simple and innocent question but I think the Deputy will appreciate that it is not. We are investigating this issue which is at the very core of the difficulty about whether there were unreported losses or profits, and what the exact position is.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling Question No. 2.
2. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the progress which he has made to date in advancing Irish tourism needs during European Year of Tourism.
Mr. S. Brennan: The programme of events outlined in my reply on 1 February to the Deputy's question about plans to mark 1990 as European Year of Tourism is now well under way.
A special European Year of Tourism promotional project co-funded by the Commission and aimed at the leisure segment of the European market will be launched later this month. Meanwhile a second project, which comes under the pan-European category, has been developed in conjunction with the Wales Tourist Board and involves promoting a tourist trail along the main Celtic monuments and sites in Ireland, Britain and France.
The winners of the National Essay and Poster Competitions will be announced on 18 and 24 May, respectivley, and will then go forward to represent Ireland in the European finals. Other competitions covering research, facilities for the disabled and the environment are underway.
Meanwhile the Irish tourism industry has begun sponsoring a series of special European Year of Tourism promotions and value-added offers which will serve to further highlight the year and to encourage travel in the off season.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Is the Minister aware that only two of the 250 events listed in the calendar of events for the European Year of Tourism published by the European Community will be held in Ireland — a rural tourism press conference in Shannon and there is the Cork City of Festivals. Does the Minister agree that it is reasonable for the House to presume that he has wasted his time as President of the Council of Tourism Ministers because not alone is this great engine not moving in any direction which will be of benefit to us but in connection with the national plan for Dublin Tourism we seem to have opted out of European activities in this regard?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy misunderstood the European institutional arrangement. The European Year of Tourism has nothing to do with the Presidency of the Community. The European Year of Tourism is a separate venture undertaken by the Commission with the involvement of all the member states to a greater or lesser extent.
Our Presidency of the Tourism Council is moving very rapidly. At an informal meeting of Tourism Ministers, a tourism document was agreed. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time the European Tourism Ministers have agreed to formulate a European tourism policy. They did not formally undertake to do this in the past and I regard this as a major breakthrough. I have called a second meeting of Tourism Ministers for the end of June which will agree a final blueprint for tourism for the European Community.
Announcements will be made next week about the Structural Funds. We are substantially on target to double the number of tourists coming to Ireland over the next four years. These events and competitions are interesting and important in so far as they highlight the European Year of Tourism, but they alone will not bring tourists to Ireland. It is important that we get concrete decisions in regard to tourism policy during our Presidency, which we can only do at Council of Ministers meetings. We made  more progress at the last Council meeting than in all the other Council meetings taken together.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Given that this list includes 250 events does the Minister not agree that the two activities to be held in Ireland are very minor? In fact, the event to be held in Shannon was organised at the behest of the European Parliament. Will the Minister tell us what effectively he, as President of the European Council of Tourism Ministers, has been doing to advance the interests of Irish tourism while he has been entertaining his ministerial colleagues in Europe and their companions at various lavish hotels in the west of Ireland?
Mr. Carey: What is the Commissioner for Tourism doing?
Mr. S. Brennan: Clearly the Deputy has not been listening to me. I told him that at the meeting in Ashford Castle we formally agreed a tourism document, the first time Tourism Ministers in the European Community have done this. We have agreed to bring forward more concrete plans for the June meeting. This is a substantial breakthrough for Tourism Ministers in Europe as it is the first time they have formally agreed to a tourism policy of any sort. This document was agreed at an informal meeting and will be subsequently confirmed at a formal meeting.
With regard to my efforts to advance Irish tourism, I am concentrating on correctly investing the Structural Funds, which mark a historic investment in Irish tourism, and on our marketing drive to double the number of tourists who come to Ireland. It is much more important to get this done than to organise poster competitions and raise flags, which is what much of what the European Year of Tourism is about. Of course, I support the European Year of Tourism but I am not taken in by it. I do not regard all the hype about the European Year of Tourism as a substitute for putting tourism policy in place, which is what I am doing.
Mr. G. Mitchell: It is no substitute for the Government's hype about themselves.
4. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he is satisfied that all tour operators sending holiday makers abroad are operating on a sound financial basis and capable of honouring all commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: Tour operator licences are issued on an annual basis in accordance with the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act, 1982. Before a licence is granted, a tour operator is required to submit a detailed application, duly audited and certified accounts and any additional financial and such other information as may be required as part of the process of satisfying my Department that the tour operator's resources are adequate for the purpose of the business. Decisions on individual applications are taken only after they have been carefully examined by my Department.
The performance of individual tour operators is monitored during the period of the licence. Where there is any reason for concern about the financial position of a tour operator, a further detailed examination is carried out in consultation with the tour operator concerned. Where such examination identifies a potantial problem, the operator is required to take the necessary steps to ensure that he or she can continue to meet his or her obligations. Failure to do so would lead to the withdrawal of the tour operator's licence.
Mr. Byrne: The question was tabled arising out of the serious concern expressed in the recent issue of The Sunday Business Post that the largest tour operator, JWT, was in serious financial difficulty. The Minister would seem to have agreed that the over-booking of seats by tour operators this year does pose a possible threat. Is the Minister satisfied that, if the largest of the tour  operators was to get into difficulty, at that stage, there might not be sufficient accommodation for those who have booked holidays with them?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy will understand that I am not prepared to comment on an individual company. What I am prepared to say is that, for some years now, the tour operators' industry has been experiencing a difficult time. One of my first actions as Minister was to call in the tour operators and seek their agreement — which I got — to reduce the actual number of seats they book, as an industry, in advance. The Deputy will appreciate the manner in which the industry works, that early in the year they book a lot of seats and are then faced with having to sell them. The capacity now stands at 175,000. In 1989 approximately 215,000 seats were sold. I have now got their agreement to reduce that number to 175,000. I am told there is still difficulty in filling even that reduced number of seats.
Mr. Spring: I had intended asking the Minister to allay the fears Deputy Byrne has spoken about now obtaining in the marketplace. I am afraid that, if anything, the Minister's comment that he is not prepared to comment on individual situations will increase those fears among the public. Would the Minister now state categorically to this House that he is satisfied there will not be any serious problems encountered by this industry in the course of this year?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy will appreciate my caution in this area. Throughout the media speculation I have avoided commenting on a particular company; it would not be correct for me to do so. I can say to the travelling public that there is a bonding system and a fund in place, so that whatever company — I stress, not necessarily the one in question: last year there were a number of casualties; who knows what casualties there will be in the future — may run into difficulty the systems are there to prevent any loss to the public. I do not regard the  position as being one of crisis. I do not see any crisis in the tour operators' industry. I see them as having experienced a difficult time. I am reasonably optimistic that the industry will firm up and that all will be well. That comment is based on my optimistic nature.
Mr. Byrne: Unfortunately, the Minister has not reassured me in any way. He mentioned the 175,000 seats that are booked whereas, in an interview with him as reported in Business and Finance, he argued that the industry would be very lucky to achieve a target of even 110,000 seats. He seems to be implying that he is not happy with the bookings the industry has made. Can the Minister assure the House that he will maintain close contact with the industry to assure the travelling public this summer that all holidays they book with any Irish tour operator will be guaranteed, so that they will not be left stranded?
Mr. S. Brennan: I want to reassure the public that my Department, on a week in, week out basis, keep in close touch with tour operators. We are talking about only 12 dedicated, particularly concentrated tour operators. My Department keep in touch with them week in, week out. In fairness to the industry I should say that, when they saw the position, they agreed to dramatically reduce the number of seats they would book in advance. Elements of the industry are now informing me that they are confident they will be able to fill all of those bookings. It is really in the hands of the public whether they wish to travel to sun spots, is it not?
Mr. Spring: I appreciate the reticence and reluctance on the part of the Minister to comment on individual companies, but can he distinguish between “inaction” and “caution”? Is he satisfied that it is not necessary for him to hold a further meeting, or constant meetings, with the people involved in the business? Furthermore, would he agree that, unless he does so, he might end up with the problem because, at the end of the day the  problem and responsibility rest with the Minister?
Mr. S. Brennan: I accept that. Let me reassure the Deputy that, at this time of the year, almost on a daily basis, we are in touch with some of these 12 companies, particularly the large ones, with whom we maintain regular contact, I might say almost on a day in, day out basis. We are monitoring the position right across the board extremely carefully.
5. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will co-operate with the Standing Conference for Regional Policy of South Wales in their efforts to upgrade the service from Swansea to continental destinations, as this proposal may benefit the access of Irish producers to European markets.
Mr. S. Brennan: I understand that the Deputy's question relates to the upgrading of rail services between Swansea and Continental Europe.
I will be happy to provide whatever support I can to the Standing Conference for Regional Policy in South Wales in their efforts to achieve improved rail services from Swansea to continental destinations.
In that context, my Department have requested that the potential for Irish ferry traffic, using an upgraded rail service between Swansea and Continental Europe, be assessed in the context of the Consultancy Study on Access Transport which I commissioned earlier this year.
Mr. Spring: I welcome the Minister's comments in relation to supporting the efforts of the South Wales Regional Policy Conference setting out to improve the rail link between Swansea and London with a view to improving their access to the continent. Would the Minister accept that that access route can play a vital part in opening up the continent to both passenger and freight services from  this country; that, in view of the development of the Channel Tunnel, not only can that route play a vital role but, as a country, we should be seen to both co-operate with and assist the South Wales Regional Policy Conference to ensure the best possible access to these markets?
Mr. S. Brennan: I agree with the Deputy. I have no difficulty at all in proceeding on that basis. I might just say to the Deputy and the House that of course, the southern corridor, is critical. I will be giving full support along the lines the Deputy has suggested. I must say, that the Dublin-Holyhead route is obviously the larger one, carrying more freight and traffic, and that the route from Holyhead down through the centre of the United Kingdom and on to the tunnel remains a priority. In that regard I might inform the House that I have written to Mr. Cecil Parkinson, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Transport, highlighting to him Ireland's keen interest in improving road and rail infrastructure to Holyhead. I have also written to Mr. Jim Tunney, the co-Chairman of the British/Irish Interparliamentary Body and have sent Deputies Barry and Spring a copy of that letter which sets out my keen interest in developing access to the tunnel. I am keeping in close touch with the United Kingdom authorities in order to ensure that tourists and freight can get across the United Kingdom to the tunnel as speedily as possible. We are looking particularly at the rail and road links in that area.
Mr. Spring: I can assure the Minister that his correspondence in relation to the British-Irish Interparliamentary Group will receive a positive response because it is the type of area in which we have a role to play. In relation to his statement that the Dublin-Holyhead link is equally important, would he agree it is very important for us not to put all our eggs in one basket but rather to exploit as many possible options as present themselves. Does the Minister foresee any opportunity, during the remaining  months of his Presidency of the Tourism Council, to promote the subject matter of this question?
Mr. S. Brennan: I have raised the matter with the Transport Commissioner, Carl Van Miert of Belgium, on more than one occasion, pointing out to him — not that he needs the information — the proportionately more important role of access transport to Ireland because of our island status with a view to ensuring that the EC understand that our ferry ways and air links are our roads to the United Kingdom and the continent. We are getting to a point where the EC accept that argument and progress will be made. As I said, with the help of the EC, I have commissioned a major consultative study the results of which I hope to have very soon. They have been charged with identifying the arteries we must try to develop. I share Deputy Spring's view that we must look on the UK's road and rail arteries as arteries through which our freight can get to the continent.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister agree the extent of the problem is such that what is needed is a development and promotional policy for Dublin port and Rosslare in view of the fact 125,000 units are being collected as far south as Cork and brought to Larne, Warrenpoint and Belfast dock and onwards to as far south as London ignoring the central and southern corridors in the process and that it would make sense, given that the cost to the economy is £56 million, to have a free ship operating either from the central or southern corridor? Would the Minister agree that drastic action is needed as well as a development and promotional policy for both Dublin port and Rosslare?
Mr. S. Brennan: I understand that both Dublin port and Rosslare have commenced marketing drives and I would be happy to encourage them to go further. I should point out that I have provided  funds for the development of the Cork-Swansea car ferry this year and am placing my faith in the business people of the Cork and Kerry region to make sure that it pays its way. Finally, I do not support the idea of a free ship.
6. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the level of financial subsidy from the Exchequer for the Dublin city bus service; the proportion of revenue for the Dublin city bus service which is provided from (a) fares and (b) Government subsidy; the way in which this subsidy compares with subsidies provided for public transport systems in other major European cities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: Annual subvention for Bus Átha Cliath is allocated by the board of CIE out of the total Exchequer allocation to that body in accordance with EC Regulation 1107/70, which specifies that State aid may be paid in respect of losses on road passenger services which cannot be recouped by fare increases or eliminated by economies in operations. The allocation of State subvention for Bus Átha Cliath for essential public transport services in Dublin city in 1989 was £14.8 million or 16.5 per cent of total revenue received by the company. Revenue received by the company from fares amounted to £74 million or 82.5 per cent of total revenue. The balance of 1 per cent is accounted for by miscellaneous receipts.
Figures available for international comparisons have to be treated with caution, because the definitions of “revenue” and “costs” differ considerably from one country to the next. In addition, in the case of the most recent comparison available the figures compared do not in many cases relate to the same year. Subject to these qualifications, however, bus transport in Dublin city emerges as requiring a considerably lower level of subsidy by comparison with other major European cities.
Mr. Byrne: Once again, The Workers' Party have extracted information from the Minister which indicates that Dublin Bus is hardly subsidised. When compared to our European partners, the subsidy at 16.5 per cent of total revenue is insignificant. For example, the public transport company in Rome receives a subsidy amounting to 80 per cent of total revenue. In the light of his decision not to grant any further fare increases and the annual 3.5 per cent reduction in the rate of subvention, is the Minister happy that Bus Átha Cliath will able to continue providing a service? What the Minister should do is increase the subvention so that a proper transportation system can be developed.
An Ceann Comhairle: I appeal for brief, relevant and succinct questions.
Mr. Byrne: Would the Minister agree that the policy should now be to increase the subvention so that a proper transportation system can be developed?
An Ceann Comhairle: I think the Deputy has made his point.
Mr. S. Brennan: First, I do not agree the subsidy, at £15 million, on top of £74 million, is insignificant; in fact, it is a substantial figure. Second, the Deputy referred to Rome and if I was on the far side of the House I too would have selected Rome as it is at the bottom of the league, with its own particular difficulties. The Deputy could have chosen Dusseldorf which is at the top of the league but then, as I say, if I was on the far side of the House I too would have chosen Rome as my example. I am not disposed at present to granting any further fare increases to Dublin Bus. I should point out that the subsidy in question works out at about 9p per passenger journey while the figure for DART is £1.17p per passenger journey. Dublin Bus has a very good future but it will have to try to increase the number of passengers it can attract.
Mr. Byrne: Would the Minister not  agree that there is traffic chaos in Dublin, that it is doubtful if there is any other city which has to endure such congestion, and that the only solution is for the Minister to encourage and aid financially the development of public transport? Would the Minister outline what steps he has taken to improve the present position where traffic in the city is at a standstill each morning and evening?
Mr. S. Brennan: I have no doubt that the Deputy is aware that we already subsidise public transport in the city. The subsidy being paid to CIE is over £2 million a week.
Mr. R. Bruton: Would the Minister agree that one of the problems we face is that Dublin Bus has been losing passengers consistently despite the growth in population and all other changes resulting in buses making journeys only a quarter full on average? Would he outline his strategy, if he is not prepared to provide a subvention, to increase the number of passengers in Dublin city and reduce conjestion?
Mr. S. Brennan: All this can be a circle which has stopped spinning as far as I am concerned. The management of Dublin Bus have commenced a major marketing drive to attract people to use their service. Dublin Bus is a business and it has to try to increase its market share. I want the company to attract more business; I want it to be increasingly marketing orientated and it does offer a good service and it can attract more passengers if it markets its services in an even more determined manner.
In relation to traffic congestion in Dublin, I note questions on that topic have been tabled.
Mr. Garland: Would the Minister agree that if a fraction of the money being spent on road widening schemes in the city with the aim of facilitating private motor cars was allocated by way of subsidy to CIE we would find ourselves in a far better position?
Mr. S. Brennan: I am not in favour of making a further subsidy available to CIE. It is obvious that we must develop our roads network as well as our transport network. In that regard I am working very closely with the Minister for the Environment to ensure we have an integrated system and not two separate systems. I am trying to achieve a balance with both being fully integrated. As the House is aware, the Minister for the Environment made an announcement yesterday about the position in Dublin.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 7. Progress is slow, only six questions have been dealt with in 40 minutes.
7. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he has considered the possibility of an employee share option plan as a possible way of assisting in the future development of Aer Lingus.
Mr. S. Brennan: I have no plans to introduce an employee share option scheme in Aer Lingus nor have I received any proposals to that effect.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister inform the House if his Department have been approached by anyone offering to purchase part or all the shares in Aer Lingus. Would he agree that it would be preferable to give employees an opportunity to participate in the purchase of the company by allowing share write-offs which would be consistent with the statement made by his colleague, the Minister for Labour, on 6 September 1989 at the University of Limerick?
Mr. S. Brennan: I am not aware of any such offer. Certainly no formal offer of that sort has been made to me. Second, as the Deputy will be aware the ownership of Aer Lingus is in State hands and I have no proposals to sell shares in Aer Lingus.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister  inform the House if any informal approaches have been made to him to purchase part or all of the shares in Aer Lingus and if it is a fact that Aer Lingus have run into difficulties with their development plans and recently gave up the options it has to purchase aircraft due to the lack of resources? Would he agree to look at the question of an employee share option scheme as one way of funding the future development of Aer Lingus?
Mr. S. Brennan: First, I have had no formal or informal contacts with regard to purchasing shares in Aer Lingus. Secondly, I am not aware of Aer Lingus dropping any options on aircraft. I understand they are forging ahead with their fleet replacement programme as strongly as possible. Thirdly of course I will look at the Deputy's suggestions.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Is the Minister assuring this House that there was no formal or informal approach to him or his Department to purchase Aer Lingus or its shares in any shape or form?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy would not expect me to be fully aware of informal contacts throughout my whole Department. I have no knowledge of any formal contacts or offers to my Department and I certainly have had no formal or informal offers. I cannot speak for all of the couple of hundred members in regard to what some might say to them at a party or something.
Mr. Spring: Can we take it from the Minister's responses, dragged slowly from him in this case, that there have been no contacts and that we can take it in effect that the Minister is not telling the House that discussions have not taken place between some members of his Department and Aer Lingus? In fact, since the Minister is responsible at the end of the day, he has the responsibility to know whether discussions are taking place. Can he say exactly whether discussions have taken place between the officials in his Department and Aer  Lingus management in relation to the matter under discussion?
Mr. S. Brennan: I have to be careful about what I say here because Deputy Mitchell has asked me if I have had offers to buy shares in Aer Lingus and Deputy Spring has asked me if there have been discussions about share options. I have had no indication and I am not aware of any formal discussions with my Department in regard to the purchase of shares by employees. The reason I want to be careful here is that we meet regularly with the board of Aer Lingus; we meet officials of Aer Lingus regularly. Occasionally the question of future equity comes up and the usual hardy annuals are kicked around the table about how we are to buy aeroplanes in the future and where we will get the money. In that context, month in and month out, the future capitalisation of Aer Lingus is discussed around the table.
Mr. Spring: Nobody mentioned this option?
Mr. S. Brennan: That is not the same thing as formal offers to buy shares in Aer Lingus of which I have had none.
Mr. Spring: Can we take it the Minister has had no approaches to buy the company in any other shape or form, by merger or otherwise?
Mr. S. Brennan: I have had no approaches.
8. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if, in view of the recent McCarthy report regarding transatlantic flights, he will consider allowing indirect flights to and from Cork Airport from the United States; and if he proposes to make changes in the requirement to land at Shannon Airport, in view of reports and comments in this regard and also in view of the recent statements made by the chief executive officer of Bord Fáilte.
9. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport whether he has studied the recent report on the impact of the Shannon stopover on the development of Dublin Airport; and if he will indicate the grounds for artificial restrictions on transatlantic air traffic.
15. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied) concerning the provision of a direct air connection between Dublin and the United States; the steps, if any, he has taken to discuss the matter with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce; and if, in light of the expressed needs of the Dublin International Finance Centre, he will make a statement on the matter.
20. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the current Government policy on the Shannon stop requirement on transatlantic air traffic in the light of his decision to allow direct charter flights top Cork and Connacht Regional Airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 9, 15 and 20 together.
I am aware of the report to which the Deputies refer. I am also aware of the views of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and others in relation to the issue of transatlantic air services and the Shannon stop. Deputies will be aware that, in the light of an ongoing review of charter policy, I announced recently that charter flights from North America may now operate direct to and from both Cork Airport and Connacht Regional Airport, without a requirement for a stop at Shannon Airport. That decision was taken with the objective of encouraging the further development of charter services from the United States in the interest of increasing the number of US visitors to Ireland. It will enable the airports concerned to play a more active role in developing charter services from North America, bringing benefits to the local tourist industry in the southern and western regions.
 I am continuing to review the charter business in regard to Dublin and should complete this review within a few months. I am not reviewing the scheduled business.
In relation to scheduled services, Shannon Airport is Ireland's sole transatlantic gateway and all scheduled transatlantic air services must operate via Shannon in both directions. As I made clear in my recent announcement, this policy remains unchanged.
Mr. R. Bruton: Would the Minister not agree that Dublin is the only EC capital where direct transatlantic flights are prohibited? Would he further agree that the fact that scheduled flights have to land at Shannon adds four hours and £8,000 to the cost of the flight and is, therefore, a direct way of undermining the ability of the capital to attract tourism? Would he not further agree that deregulation throughout Europe has proved that all those in the aviation business have gained from it and that, therefore, such restrictions are no longer appropriate?
Mr. S. Brennan: Let me take the Deputy's questions in order. I understand Dublin is the only capital in that situation. Secondly, £8,000 is a figure in an independent report. I cannot confirm it but I suppose it is as good an indication as any. I do not have more detailed costings myself. Obviously it costs more to land than to keep going so that is common sense. Thirdly, in the context of doubling tourist numbers and being on target to do that, I think our tourism record is moving well. Finally, in regard to deregulation, throughout the United States deregulation is nearly completed and it has its advocates and its critics. In Europe at the Council of Transport Ministers we are agreeing to liberalise transport very substantially, particularly in regard to access, fares, capacity and those types of issues. Yes, deregulation and liberalisation is the order of the day in the aviation industry.
Mr. Spring: Is the Minister aware the  members of the workforce in Shannon consider his recent announcement a breach of faith by the Minister in the context of previous statements and assurances given to them in relation to the future of Shannon Airport? Secondly, does the Minister accept the conclusions of the DKM report on the matter of flying over Shannon as valid and sound economic conclusions? Thirdly, does the Minister see any expansion of Shannon and expansion of the services into Shannon taking place in the near future?
Mr. S. Brennan: I would be sorry if the union saw it as a breach of faith. I would like them to consider that by standing over the situation in regard to scheduled flights I am ensuring the status of the airport. If they reflect on it they may see it that way. I can understand if they feel otherwise. I did point out that I was not reviewing the status of Shannon, nor am I doing that. I do not believe the charter situation affects the status of Shannon. As I am not reviewing the situation in regard to scheduled flights, I do not have any public views on the DKM report. Finally, I think Shannon has an excellent future. It is much more than just an airport. Shannon has 1,000 jobs coming onstream from GPA. It is developing a new product called Shannon Express where it will try to mop up business from the centre of the UK that would otherwise have to try to go through Heathrow. Instead, it will seek to win business in the centre of the UK to fly to Shannon, clear Immigration in Shannon and fly on to the United States from there. The Shannon Express manager tells me that would save about four hours for somebody travelling from the centre of England to the US. I wish them well with it and I will give them every help to promote that product.
Deputies are also aware of the very substantial Aeroflot involvement in the Shannon Airport region and I am also aware that the airport now proposes to seek to do additional business with the UK and also to seek additional carriers to come to Shannon from the United States. I want to point out that the number of charter flights involved here is  less than 10 per cent of the total business that went through Shannon last year so it gives an opportunity to Cork and to Knock, not to take business from Shannon but to do more business themselves. I appreciate Deputy Mitchell's support which he expressed for my decision to allow charters into Knock and Cork.
Mr. Garland: I am disappointed with the Minister's reply that he is not extending the little concession he made towards the liberalisation of aviation policy. I put it to him that the present situation at Shannon is parochialism of the worst kind.
Mr. S. Brennan: I suppose anybody speaking for his constituency could be accused of that.
Mr. Byrne: Given the dilution of the status of Shannon but recognising its potential for growth in other fields, will the Minister not agree it is time to honour the request by SIPTU for a meeting — although the last speaker referred to it as a parochial issue? I am sure the Minister will agree that the workforce have given a tremendous performance and the State has benefited tremendously from their performance. Would he not agree that, in partnership with the trade union movement, he should sit down and plan the future development of Shannon, in whatever shape or form that should take?
Mr. S. Brennan: I very much share the Deputy's salute to the workforce in Shannon. They have been magnificent and I join with the Deputy in paying tribute to them. I want to make clear what we are doing: we are separating the charter business from the schedule business. As I said in my reply, I am continuing to look at the situation in Dublin with regard to charter flights.
Mr. R. Bruton: Given that the Minister has agreed that removing artificial regulations can help all those involved in the aviation industry and that direct flights into areas can help local tourism, how  does he justify the continuing disallowance of direct scheduled flights into Dublin?
Mr. S. Brennan: I think the Deputy appreciates the difficulties. That side of the House had this difficulty for a number of years and presumably that Government had opportunities to look at the issue. I am doing what is practical. I am permitting other airports to compete for the tourist business by allowing charters to fly direct into two airports at present and I am continuing to look at the situation.
Mr. R. Bruton: I asked the Minister to explain his policy.
Mr. S. Brennan: It is the same as your Government's policy except that I have liberalised it to some extent, which I think is an advance.
Mr. Spring: In view of the minimal liberalisation which the Minister has just referred to, may I ask whether he expects increased pressure from the US authorities and airlines — I am aware that the pressure has been building for the past ten years in particular — in relation to the situation at Shannon? Given that the Minister has, in effect, changed the policy for overflights to Shannon for the first time, does he expect the pressure from the US to increase?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy is quite right. There has been for at least that period of time representations — pressure may be too strong a word — from US airlines who want direct access to Dublin. They regularly make the point to successive Ministers that they would like direct access but they are regularly told that Government policy is to have scheduled flights stop at Shannon. As I have previously said, I am trying to be practical. I have reviewed the charter policy and have taken action on it. I am continuing to review the charter policy in relation to Dublin but at present I am not reviewing the scheduled flights.
10. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if workers in CIE will be awarded a third phase increase under the terms of the Programme for National Recovery; and if the company will claim inability to pay because of the Government's refusal to sanction a recent fare increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: Payment of the third phase of the increases provided for under the terms of the Programme for National Recovery for CIE regular wages grade staff will not arise until 1 October 1990 and for salaried staff until 1 December 1990. Neither I nor my Department have been informed by CIE that the increases will not be paid.
The CIE group have made an application to my Department for increases in rates and fares and this is being examined at present.
Mr. Byrne: Will the Minister explain how CIE will be able to meet their commitments to their workforce to pay the third phase under the Programme for National Recovery if CIE are not being allowed to perform as a commercial company? It cannot increase its charges because the Minister said so and the rate of subvention is being reduced from the very low base by three and a half per cent per annum and there is no provision for an increase in inflation. Will the Minister say where he hopes CIE may be able to find the money to pay the increase, given that their first option was to increase fares to maintain viability?
Mr. S. Brennan: Since the question was tabled, I checked with CIE and I understand from them that they have not informed the unions that they would be claiming inability to pay. I have been told by CIE that they have made no such statement and I can, therefore, only assume they will meet all their commitments in the normal way. It is interesting the Deputy asked that the  company be allowed to perform commercially while, at the same time, he asked me to increase their subsidy.
Mr. Byrne: I suggest the Minister owes the workforce of the CIE group of companies some reassurance that their increases will be paid in October and December. The workforce will certainly argue that if the company are trying to perform in a commercial manner and the Minister has forbidden increases that CIE may claim inability to pay on foot of the Minister's directive that fares cannot be increased.
Mr. S. Brennan: I would expect the board of CIE, if they have any difficulties meeting their obligations to their employees, to come and tell me and they have not done that.
Mr. Byrne: In the event of CIE group of companies not being able to meet their commitments under the Programme for National Recovery, would the Minister agree to make up the difference by way of a subsidy?
Mr. S. Brennan: Unless and until the company tell me that is the situation they face, I can only assume they will meet their obligations. I will have to proceed on that assumption.
11. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the plans, if any, he has for national aviation; and his views on whether a national aviation plan is desirable.
Mr. S. Brennan: Since coming into office, I have carried out a review of all the major elements of Irish air transport policy and, following this review, I have set the following objectives: (i) to establish a clearer two airline policy designed to focus aviation policy on a strengthening of the Irish presence on services to/from Ireland, rather than having two Irish carriers actively pursuing traffic on identical routes; (ii) to encourage further  the development of a soundly based air transport industry which can compete effectively with foreign airlines; and (iii) to promote the needs of tourism, trade and industry by providing a range of reliable and regular air services to/from Irish airports at the lowest economic cost.
In line with these objectives, I am actively pursuing the further liberalisation of the air transport regulatory environment for the benefit of both Ryanair and Aer Lingus, the expansion of the State and regional airports to meet anticipated traffic demand in the coming years and the upgrading of the capacity of the Irish air trafffic control system. Last September, I announced new arrangements for Ryanair and Aer Lingus on routes to and from Ireland.
During Ireland's Presidency of the EC, one of my major priorities is to secure agreement on the second phase package of air transport liberalisation measures. During the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Transport in March, substantial progress was made in developing the various elements of the package which, if adopted in June, will result in greater flexibility and freedom for Irish and other Community airlines in the fields of market access, capacity and air fares. The more liberal air transport policies which are being spearheaded by Ireland increases the possibility for more competition between airlines and for more passenger traffic at airports.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister not agree that aviation policy should include a policy on the future development of regional airports throughout the country? Would he further agree that there is a need for consistent policy, given the proliferation of regional airports and the prospects for their future development? Baldonnel Airport has a major modern network connection to Dublin and would the Minister consider that it is suitable for development as a joint civil-military airport and that it is the desired location for future charter flights into Dublin, and if there is a change of policy that it is suitable for transatlantic flights? Would he agree that this is consistent  with what has been done in other European capitals? Finally, would he agree that a national aviation policy should be addressing this problem?
Mr. S. Brennan: We have a national aviation policy very much in place and we are still developing it. On the question of regional airports, I can tell the Deputy that I am currently working on a policy to pull together the future development of the regional airports. I hope to announce an overall strategy and policy for regional airports in the not too distant future. Substantial investment has gone into regional airports. I am anxious that we rationalise matters and that we will have a clear picture of where we should be investing in the future. I share the Deputy's concern about the need to pull this together. I am in the process of doing that and in the not too distant future I shall have something on it.
In regard to the suggestion about Baldonnel, all I can say is that Dublin Airport is extremely busy. The number of passengers coming through there has doubled in a few short years. There are now over five million passengers coming through Dublin Airport, double the number four years earlier, but because of the new runway and the new air traffic arrangements there, it is still not operating at capacity. It can take a lot more business and my immediate priority is to get that business.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister not agree that part of the justification for the continued arrangements at Shannon is the fact that the airport creates regional development and assists with employment in the area? The Minister will be aware that Clondalkin and Tallaght are employment blackspots and yet there is the most modern network of roads in that area, directly connecting it with Dublin Airport. Would the Minister agree that this is now the golden opportunity to re-examine the possibility of developing Baldonnel as the main airport for business aircraft and charter flights and indeed as a regional airport in its own  right, like Waterford, Galway or Kerry? Would he agree, as part of his review of the regional airports and national aviation policy, to look again at this suggestion, given the possibility of spin-off jobs for the Clondalkin and Tallaght regions?
Mr. S. Brennan: I am always happy to consider any suggestions made by the Deputy, as an Opposition spokesman. I was interested to hear the Deputy in his earlier comments refer to a proliferation of regional airports and then seek that I add another one to them.
Mr. G. Mitchell: I was asking about the question of national policy and aviation given that there has been a proliferation. I was not criticising the fact that there has been a proliferation. Proliferation means there has been an increase in the number of regional airports. It does not mean——
An Ceann Comhairle: This question is leading to argument.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister agree that the question of an independent air traffic control body and also the question of the future of ANSO within his Department might be addressed under some future national aviation policy?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy is well informed. I am reviewing the future of air traffic control and it is no secret that I want to give it greater autonomy. I am not convinced that it should remain a full Civil Service function and in the not too distant future I will be in a position to make proposals in that regard. We are upgrading our air traffic control services and we are in the course of investing £30 million which will give us-one of the most modern air traffic control systems available in any airport or any set of airports in Europe.
12. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport his Department's policy for the future development of B & I; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: During the recent passage through the Oireachtas of the B & I Line Act, 1990, I announced my intention to carry out a review of the future options for the B & I. The main objective of this review, which is already under way in full consultation with the company, is to determine how soon B & I's dependence on Exchequer financial support can be ended. The achievement of that objective is in the best interests both of the Irish economy and of the company itself. I must stress that I am not looking at any particular option at present. I will choose the best option in due course, depending on the outcome of the review.
Mr. Byrne: Will the Minister inform the House whether he is in receipt of the blueprint by CIE which was promised to be submitted to the Government and, if so, will he give the House some idea as to the proposals of B & I on that?
Mr. S. Brennan: B & I have not yet formally presented me with their report which I have asked for on the matter. A draft of their current thinking on it has been made available to me by the company and I have had an opportunity to look at that but I would prefer to wait until I have their full formal report. They are still talking to my Department about elements of the report and I understand the board want to have another bite at it before they present me with the formal report which, I understand, will lay out options which they see for the future of the company.
13. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if his attention has been drawn to the alarm being expressed in the tourism industry at the ability of any person to erect bed and breakfast signs and run such a business without any obligation to register with the tourists boards; if he will introduce legislation to prevent the operation of unauthorised bed and breakfast operators as they can cause severe damage to our tourist industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: I am aware of concerns expressed by some tourism industry bodies about unapproved bed and breakfast establishments. Bord Fáilte, the body with responsibility for regulating standards in tourist accommodation, continue to actively promote and encourage bed and breakfast operators to participate in their approval system. There is no evidence to suggest that a mandatory as opposed to a voluntary approval system is currently warranted.
Mr. Byrne: I would suggest to the Minister that certain tourist boards are quite disturbed, particularly in areas where there is a high presence of tourists, at the fact that tremendous damage can be done to the industry by virtue of these fly-by-night operators. They allege that the first image and impression of the country is gained from the experience in bed and breakfast houses. Could the Minister make some incentives available to encourage people to take on registration with Bord Fáilte?
Mr. S. Brennan: The number of approved such premises is just over 2,500. I would estimate that the number of unapproved operators could be up to 4,000 at the height of the season. The reason I favour voluntary as opposed to mandatory registration is that I am simply not interested in organising an army of public officials on a year in year out basis to inspect and police all these operators.
Mr. Byrne: Would the Minister not agree that when tourists are not happy with the service provided by an unregistered bed and breakfast operator, Bord Fáilte are not interested in their complaint and will not follow it through? That leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth of the tourist who feels he has been stung. Finally, would the Minister not agree that  these 4,000 operators are providing unfair competition for those who are genuinely interested in tourism and its development and the least he should afford them is some sort of recognition over the unregistered operators?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy should be aware that, in terms of complaints to Bord Fáilte about unapproved as opposed to approved operators, there is no clear pattern. Certainly there is not a preponderance of complaints about the unapproved operators. It is not right to suggest that the complaints are about the unapproved operators. Being unapproved does not mean being in the black market. Some of these people choose not to register. It is for the other agencies like the Revenue Commissioners, the fire authorities and the local authorities in regard to sign-posting to make sure that everybody meets their obligations. There are as many complaints about approved operators as there are about unapproved operators. Bord Fáilte investigate all the complaints made to them.
14. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he or his Department, have issued any instructions to CIE regarding the manner in which they should present their accounts especially the manner in which the Exchequer subsidy should be accounted for; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: Prior to 1984 the Exchequer subvention represented a contribution towards losses incurred by CIE and was shown in the board's accounts as below the line receipts. In 1984 it was decided to treat the subvention as a payment from the Exchequer to CIE in respect of essential public transport services of a social nature, which could be included above the line in the board's accounts. I recently decided that above-the-line accounting of this kind tends to  give a misleading picture of CIE's financial performance and, in the interests of improved transparency, I have requested CIE to ensure that their accounts reflect this.
Mr. Byrne: Surely the Minister would have to agree that this is precisely what the workforce and CIE management do not want. Above-the-line accounting was fought for by the unions down through the years and they are happy with it. The morale of the workforce will be severely undermined by the presenation of their companies as loss-making companies. Would the Minister agree, in the interests of morale of the workforce and the development of the company, that he should not revert to the old transparency argument of below-the-line accountancy but rather that he retain as has been requested by the trade union movement, the above-the-line formula which, I am told, is standard accountancy practice.
Mr. S. Brennan: I will certainly give some thought to the Deputy's points. That is probably as far as I can go — if that relects the view of the workforce as he portrays them. I should also like to say that the taxpayer has a say in this matter also. When one reads in the newspapers that there has been a profit from CIE that can give a wrong impression — not deliberately I hasten to add — and a misleading picture when in fact, because there is a social element the companies are not able to meet all their outgoings. I am anxious that the public would not be misled either. That is an important matter to which the Deputy should give some consideration.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Is the Minister aware that a former Secretary of the Ministry of Finance in Northern Ireland described the arrangements by which her Majesty's Government paid Northern Ireland administration moneys as a system of fudges, wangles and dodges? Would he agree that a similar term might be applied to the accounts of CIE, not only in terms of what they receive from the State through the money they receive for  school buses etc.? Would he agree that it would be worth while ensuring that the amount they receive is immediately obvious to anyone reading their accounts and that what should be removed from their accounts is the cost of maintaining and extending the permanent way. In other words CIE have to meet a cost which road transport carriers do not have to meet. The accounts, therefore, of CIE both in what they receive and what they do not receive are distorted.
Mr. S. Brennan: I would agree with that description of the CIE accounts. A maintenance charge in regard to the permanent way is a legitimate one in any set of accounts. Maintenance is sufficiently legitimate to have it included.
Mr. Byrne: Is it not the Minister's policy to get CIE to prepare this set of accounts so that CIE, a public company, would be seen in the worst possible light. The Minister, in effect, is softening up the public and undermining the morale of the 12,800 workers in the CIE group of companies, notwithstanding the fact that today we have elicited that the rate of subvention to CIE is relatively small by European standards——
An Ceann Comhairle: Ceisteanna le do thoil.
Mr. Byrne: ——with this headline shock result.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us proceed by way of questions.
Mr. S. Brennan: That is not what I am doing. I think all Deputies and all parties in the House would want us to reflect the situation as it is. Mature people can make up their own minds. If a company is showing a loss, then we should show a loss; if it is showing a profit, we can show a profit. We can explain why there are profits and losses. What has been suggested to me is that in order to make people feel better we put up with and encourage headlines which say: “Another record profit” when in fact that is not the case.
Mr. G. Mitchell: May I ask the Minister——
Mr. Byrne: The Minister prefers a poor image of the company.
Mr. S. Brennan: I am not prepared to doctor it, which is what the Deputy is suggesting.
Mr. Byrne: The Minister does not have to doctor it, just leave the figures——
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us have an orderly Question Time; it has been very orderly up to now, let us leave it so.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Would the Minister bear in mind the point I made earlier in relation to taking into account all the finances received by CIE so that they are immediately transparent? Would he also look again at the question of including the cost of the permanent way? For example, Dublin Bus Company might just as well be asked to include some cost for the maintenance and development of the roads, yet the rail company is asked to do so and the road company is not asked to do so. That is a distortion in the accounts. I understand it is not the case in some European rail companies. Would the Minister agree to look at that case again so that a fair accurate account of the affairs of CIE can be presented and can be easily witnessed by a cursory glance at the issued accounts?
Mr. S. Brennan: I will give careful thought to the Deputy's suggestions and I thank him for them. I want to join with Deputy Byrne in saying that I want the morale in CIE to continue to improve. The workforce there do a very good job. I hope that over time that I could chart out for them, working with me an even more exciting future.
Mr. Byrne: Why change the accountancy practice at this stage?
Mr. S. Brennan: The Deputy would change nothing if he had his way.
16. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the progress, if any, which has been made to guarantee that all aircraft, including private aircraft, carry adequate insurance cover for any liability relating to the death or injury of passengers or the loss of or damage to goods carried therein; and that section 17 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1988, will be enforced by ministerial order guaranteeing this cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. S. Brennan: Section 17 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1988 enables me to impose an obligation on owners or operators of aircraft to provide for their liabilities in relation to loss or damage arising from the operation of their aircraft.
In addition to the section of the Act referred to, there are already extensive arrangements in place to ensure adequate cover for the type of liability concerned. As regards commercial services, all States whose carriers operate scheduled air services to or from Ireland are signatories to the Warsaw Convention as amended by the Hague protocol. The Convention lays down a standardised international code governing the liability of carriers.
In the case of non-scheduled services, most services are operated to or from states which are also signatories to the Warsaw Convention. Nevertheless, every applicant for an authorisation to operate non-scheduled services is required to provide a copy of a valid certificate of insurance showing that the operator carries adequate insurance, which in most cases exceeds the limits prescribed by the Warsaw Convention.
All Aer Lingus services are automatically authorised under section 7 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1965, and the company maintain a passenger liability of 100,000 SDRs — special drawing rights — equivalent to IR£81,680 at current exchange rates. The special drawing right is an international  unit of account established by the International Monetary Fund. All other Irish carriers are required to hold an authorisation under the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1965. It is a condition of such authorisation that the holder has a special contract with each passenger limiting the liability of the carrier to the Irish pound equivalent of 100,000 SDRs.
In relation to private aircraft, the present position is that, as it the case in most other European states, there is no statutory requirement on the owners or operators of private aircraft to insure against liability for loss or damage arising from the operation of the aircraft. Section 17 of the Air Navigation Act was inserted in order to enable me to make an order requiring owners/operators of private aircraft to provide insurance cover against such liability, and the preparation of the necessary order is being actively pursued in my Department.
An Ceann Comhairle: That disposes of questions for today.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Michael Higgins was in possession when the debate adjourned and he has 18 minutes left.
Mr. M. Higgins: Before the adjournment I had complimented the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs in relation to the logistics involved in the recent Council meeting to which the Taoiseach's statement refers. That having been said and listening this morning to the statements of the Taoiseach and of the Minister for Foreign Affairs I cannot but confess to having been somewhat alarmed by the looseness and, indeed, the dangerous nature of the language on occasion. What I mean by the looseness of the language, is that the summit having dealt with the twin developments of German unification and of European political union, the statements did not, in any sense, attempt to define political union or the procedures by which political union might be discussed either in this House or among the public.
It appears that we are to have a rerun of the unaccountable, the undemocratic, the uninformed mass of nonsense that surrounded the Single European Act debate in this country. Neither did it define such key concepts as security, yet it made some tendentious reference to a future role in relation to participation by Ireland in different fora which might discuss a changed role for Ireland. It slid over the issue of neutrality, in fact it avoided it altogether. I want to set the record straight in this regard in view of the fact that one of the Opposition spokespersons, Deputy Barry, in his reported statement on RTÉ, which diverges slightly from the speech I heard in this House this morning, spoke about the time being ripe now to question Irish neutrality. We heard the suggestion that people had not debated Irish neutrality in the past and that our definition of it was somehow incomplete. I am weary of the intellectual dishonesty of the suggestion that neutrality has not been debated by political parties in this country. The Labour Party have consistently published their position in relation to neutrality, and I will say a little more about that in a few moments.
For the record — and let members of Fine Gael please read it — James  Connolly argued for neutrality during World War I. The Labour Party participated in the anti-conscription strike which was the first such action within the Labour movement in Europe. At the 1919 Berne International Labour Conference a Labour delegation led by Tom Johnson submitted a memorandum which committed the Irish workers to “maintain these principles of peace, anti-militarism and opposition to war which are the crowning glories of the labour and socialist movement”. In 1928 at the Second Commonwealth Labour and Trade Union Conference in London the Labour Party again made a submission and I quote:
... it is not unreasonable to fear that Great Britain may again become involved in wars....in the case of such an event it would seem unquestionable that some, at least, of the other states .... would desire to be acknowledge as free from responsibility and immune from attack .... so long as they maintained neutrality.
My precedessor as Chairman of the Labour Party, Michael Keyes, in 1941 in a major statement said:
As a neutral country we have no war aims to declare. But neutrality in itself is an important aim. It has been the aim of the Labour Party from its inception, we have proclaimed it in Dáil Éireann .... when others who applauded it today were discussing the conditions under which we might participate in a European war. And besides the very fact that we may still engage in the productive arts of peace ought to have inspired our Government to state in definite terms the goal at which our efforts are to be directed .... a new order is to be established. Justice is promised where injustice formerly prevailed.
In 1969 we had a major document published in that regard.
Lest people think I am speaking historically in the atmosphere of European political co-operation, let me say we published documents on positive neutrality  expressing that neutrality did not mean you had no opinions or you did not participate in building the alternatives to war and oppression. In our document issued in 1985 Ireland and World Peace the topic of positive neutrality was expanded. I could go on, but let me say I do not want to hear expressions of the arrogance of those parties whose support for neutrality has been conditional. In the case of Fianna Fáil if there was a hint of Irish unity around the corner their position on neutrlaity could always be suspended. That was the view of Mr. de Valera all his days in Cabinet. From the Fine Gael benches we were told so often that we were militarily neutral but not ideologically neutral; we were part of the moral commitment of the West, which was not, in a sense, the wild west; it was some unstated claim for the hedemony of Christian values and Christian democracy not only in Ireland or Europe but the world.
Mr. J. Higgins: That is right.
Mr. M. Higgins: If these parties want an inner dialogue on neutrality, let them have it and I will welcome it, but let them at least respect what is in print from the other parties. I want to set the record straight just this once on this issue.
In the Taoiseach's speech today there is every evidence that if we ran things well as a small country faced with the elaborate tasks of the Presidency we might feel proud in many senses. I suppose it is right that we have some flushes of self-congratulation. There is equally every evidence of a rush of blood to the head and we might be in grave danger of losing the run of ourselves, to put it colloquially, as we proceed to sort out the world. The Taoiseach said something which reflects an extraordinary hubris. I quote:
Europe now stands on the threshold of an age in which it can achieve new levels of economic growth and resume its world role of intellectual and cultural leadership, as it leaves behind the  dreary barren years of the post-war period.
There are those with a mild acquantance with history who would suggest that the years of the war itself, when facism was tearing Europe apart and threatening not only Europe but the world itself and democracy all over the world, was a dreary and barren period. Equally there are historians who might think, in response to the appalling happenings of Auschwitz, Dachau and so on, that the birth of a human rights movement was neither dreary nor barren, but there is this notion that the ringmaster of the new dialogue of Franco-Germanic reconstruction of their role in Europe is somehow included and it would not be beyond the grounds of pretention, given the present Fianna Fáil view, to imagine we were somehow or other involved in some new axis of power in the world that included Bonn, Paris and, God help us, Dublin Castle. It is time we earthed ourselves a little. The conference was taking place in the country that contributes the highest unemployment rate to Europe, has one of the highest emigration rates, one of the worst distributions of income, wealth and participation, the least developed institutions for participation and decision making in the Community, neither a foreign affairs committee nor a social affairs committee in its Parliament and no dialogue whatever going on in relation to European affairs with institutions that are separate from Parliament itself. Before we get carried away entirely let us remind ourselves of what we are and what this new Coalition are willing to preside over. They have to their credit that they have blocked the formation of a foreign affairs committee in this Parliament. I would like to be generous on this occasion and say to this President du jour of the Council when he likes to listen that if he wants a dialogue on what is meant by European political union he can find it from the spokespersons on Foreign Affairs on this side of the House. We would be willing to participate in it. He does not include that.
Later in the speech, apart from moving  from world leadership, he decides that the people of Europe deserve him and his counterparts as leaders. Early in the speech there is an interesting piece of nonsense:
We are living through a major formative period in European history; a time during which the future of the Continent and its people will be settled for a long time to come. The leaders of the Community have the major responsibility of providing the people of Europe with enlightened leadership at this time of decision.
No Pope has ever put it better, but where are the people in Europe? What is meant by this European common home? Where is the Europe of all the citizens? Where is there any reference to participation? The notion is that the people of Europe are so fortunate to have enlightened leadership at this stage so that they can be led into discussion of things which only their betters can discuss.
It is in that atmosphere of claiming it wants to be in charge of massive and historic changes in Europe that we have words used occasionally such as “democratic deficit”. This point has been developed by my colleague Deputy Ruairí Quinn and I do not feel inspired to say very much more about it. There is democratic deficit in this society, in these institutions, in Europe and among the public of Europe, and there has been little intent during the Irish Presidency to redress this.
The second interesting point about this speech this morning from our Taoiseach is the fact that there is one reference to social cohesion and no reference to the Social Charter. The reference to social cohesion is in respect of a meeting that took place, appropriately, in Ashford Castle, and it does not develop what the findings were from that dialogue. The Social Charter slipped away so you might say the meeting was not really dealing with these issues. By the simple construction of ordinary logic, from the speech of the Taoiseach one could say  that he was dealing with a European political union that would serve economic and monetary union or perhaps at best some form of economic union within the Community. The Irish public are entitled to ask questions about this. What has happened to the guarantees given about the co-existence of social changes, the Social Charter and the progress towards the completion of the Internal Market? Was this drafted by an official in Iveagh House and thrown out late in the day in the face of the public so that they might swallow the pill of the Single European Act?
I should like to warn the House that a debate will open up here that will get to the root of this problem. To speak of European political union, divorced from the commitments of cohesion as they were in the Single European Act and also from the notion of the Social Charter and a Europe of citizens' rights, particularly of workers' rights, is one kind of debate but, equally, the debate can be about a form of union between the citizens of Europe in which there is a social base, a rights perspective and a Social Charter. That is an entirely different debate. One would get no hint in the Taoiseach's speech of there being any serious thinking in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency or whatever Departments are running the Presidency. What there is is this Louis XIV thinking, that somehow or other one of us has been chosen by history to be the ringmaster at this crucial stage in the history of Europe. I listened to the Taoiseach's reference to the new Europe's relationship with the greater world, in so far as it is allowed to exist at all. The following quotation is indelibly imprinted on my mind:
Europe ... can ... resume its world role of intellectual and cultural leadership, as it leaves behind the dreary barren years of the post-war period.
It is worth reminding the President of all the Europeans, who is our Taoiseach, of the world to which the European Community relates. It is a world in which the  poorest 20 per cent of the population have 1.8 per cent of the world's GNP; in which the richest 20 per cent have 77.9 per cent; in which the developing world with its 75 per cent of population has 17 per cent of the world's GNP. I could go on. There is a very strange imbalance here.
What is to be the relationship of the new and enlarged Europe to that kind of world? It is not an unfair construction to hear, when conservative speakers make a speech, that they regard the rest of the world as being in some sense backward, as not having “growed up” like Topsy to European levels of consumption. That is why on the periphery of the Council last weekend the German spokespersons on the economy offered as an opinion, to anybody who wanted to listen, that even if they were paying for German unification themselves they might have to go back to 1982 consumption levels but they would, of course, be superior to French consumption levels. As for the British and Irish standard of living, let us just be polite and not speak about them. What lies behind the speech of the Taoiseach is the unstated assertion that the strongest will pay for its own unification in its own backyard and what is more, in so far as it is the paymaster of the Community, it will give an odd wink through the window of European consultation to the European partners.
However, there is no indication in the speech by the Taoiseach, or the speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, that there will be any involvement at the level of partnership among European Community members to discuss any serious aspect, consequence or evolution of German unification. There is in the language used a very interesting point. I was in Brussels on Thursday and Friday at a meeting of people who were chairpersons of social affairs committees in relation to secondary legislation. After a few quiet explanations to the effect that we had a sub-committee dealing with social and environmental affairs we pointed out that we did not have a social affairs committee at all. I outlined the conclusions of the  recently published report of the committee of which I am chairman. That committee, for example, reported — this was agreed by all sides of the House — that there had to be a conterminous development of the completion of the Internal Market and the social action programme. It also agreed, for example, that it could not accept the submission of the Federation of Irish Employers that all the rights of the social type would have to be subsidiary to the completion of the market. There was general agreement among all parties on the committee about that. They went on to speak about the cohesive and the integrated nature of economic and social developments. People were thrilled by this thinking in the Community, by the thinking of this obscure committee on this strange little island that I was from but which does not have a social affairs committee. They were very polite and asked me privately how that relates to the views of the Irish Presidency or of the Ministers who speak at Council meetings on our behalf. It is widely perceived that our position in relation to the Social Charter, workers' rights and the right to freedom, is very thinly behind that great anti-European herself, Mrs. Thatcher.
There was a certain amount of embarrassment in explaining how we as a Parliament can have a sub-committee which has a consensus in favour of the co-existence and the same time frame for economic integration and social rights. Mid-morning, by flash of inspiration as I listened to the Taoiseach, I realised that we were just a Parliament and we were not the enlightened leader. The enlightened leader sometimes passes on this non-consultative status of looking into his heart, which he has inherited from the great tradition of the Government side, occasionally to his Ministers, who take positions that others in the Parliament do not have. The assumption is that at this historic moment this Parliament does not have anything to say at all, that what is best for us historically is known in a special way to one person. Indeed, as a reflection of that, significant decision-making these days has been moved out  of Government Buildings and out of the Parliament to the edge of the city in Kinsealy.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair regrets that he cannot continue to enjoy the Deputy's contribution. Tá an t-am istigh.
Mr. M. Higgins: I should like to make a number of points of my own.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy will appreciate that that there is a time factor involved. The Deputy is now on borrowed time.
Mr. M. Higgins: In the dialogue that has surrounded the Conference, and previous Conferences, there has developed the concept of subsidiarity. That is a word that has an inglorious record from the thirties. It was associated with Quadregesimo Anno but it was reappeared in the language of Europe and it is used by those who speak in our name at the European Council and, on occasions, at more elevated councils. It is used as a screen to mask the fact that there is no agreement of a European kind on anything significant that affects the citizens of Europe. It is a mask for Mrs. Thatcher to say, “I will be able to do whatever I like in Britain”. It is a mask for Irish employers to say, “I will not give information on rights to workers; I will not do anything for part-time workers, for atypical work or in relation to issues like that”.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs in the course of his speech made a reference to Vaclav Havel. What was not quoted from Vaclav Havel in the Minister's erudite script was his most famous essay dealing with words, words that can kill, words that can aid and words that can evade. What we are witnessing in Europe, and in all the statements from the Government side today, is an abuse of language which would appal Havel, if one was to take his essay seriously. There is no reference to the question of the social dimension of Europe. Deputy Roche and others were  talking about how everybody in Eastern Europe was rushing to achieve our standard of living.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy would not want to be accused of abusing my words of warning to him that he is now almost five minutes into some other Member's time.
Mr. M. Higgins: I will conclude by contrasting what I heard in the last speech before Question Time with the words of Eduard Schevardnadze to the political committee of the European Parliament:
... let me just say that the socialist idea, which accumulates people's universal yearning for equality and justice, is a constant component of civilisation. As such it incorporates man's age old dreams of a dignified life in a society that is from the start and forever free of violence, arbitrary force and enrichment of some through plunder and the impoverishment of others ... the administrative and command system has distorted the socialist idea.
I pay a great deal more attention to the motivation behind that than I did to the statements about European leadership that I heard from the Taoiseach this morning.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am glad that Deputy Higgins is enjoying himself as he comes to grips with the new term called Eurospeak.
The main items with which I am dealing as President of the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers during the Irish Presidency of the Council are Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), common German economic and monetary area, abolition of fiscal frontiers and various aspects of the Community budget and financial procedures and the financial services sector.
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is a priority item on our Presidency agenda. In the context of the rapidly evolving developments in Eastern Europe, it is especially important that the momentum in this area be sustained.  Indeed the special European Council meeting in Dublin last Saturday called for the preparations for the Intergovernmental Conference on EMU, scheduled to open in December 1990, to be further intensified. The objective set at that meeting is for the IGC to work rapidly with a view to ratification of its results by the member states before the end of 1992.
Ireland's approach to EMU is positive and favours the pragmatic and structural framework which is outlined in the Delors report on EMU. That report recognises the need to maintain certain balances which we would regard as essential if EMU is to be sustainable. Firstly, there must be a balance between advances in the economic and monetary areas and, secondly, there must be a balance between moves to EMU and the strengthening of the economic and social cohesion of the Community. Provided these balances are maintained, we believe that EMU can bestow significant economic, social and geo-political benefits on the Community as a whole.
The Government are aware that closer integration may pose risks for the more peripheral regions of the Community. In this context, we take the view that market forces and proper domestic management, while vital to economic dynamism, cannot, by themselves, be relied upon to correct regional imbalances. Something additional is required if we are to avoid the spectre of population flight from regions deficient in capital and technology. Within federations and, indeed, even within individual nation states, there is recognition of the fact that supporting mesures are required in order to equalise regional disparities. The precise form which these measures should take will be a matter for debate as the final shape of EMU begins to emerge.
The initial concentration of the Irish Presidency was on Stage I of EMU, which is to start on 1 July next. We had to establish the procedures to be followed at ECOFIN during this stage. Agreement was reached at ECOFIN in March on two decisions designed to strengthen the co-ordination of economic policies in Stage  I of EMU, particularly through more intensive multilateral surveillance. On the basis of these decisions, the Irish Presidency put forward procedural proposals for the implementation by Council of multilateral surveillance of member states' economies and agreement has been reached on these procedures. They will include regular, at least twice yearly, surveillance exercises by Ministers in very restricted session. Country examinations will be carried out by the appropriate Community bodies and the outcome of these examinations will be made available to Ministers for discussion. The results of the surveillance exercises will be reported to the European Council and the European Parliament.
Overall, it is expected that the multilateral surveillance exercises under Stage I will provide a significant intensification of the existing co-ordination of economic policies in the Community. A first trial run of this Stage I multilateral surveillance will take place under the Irish Presidency at the June ECOFIN.
The IGC which is to begin in December will be concerned with Stages II and III of EMU. The task of the Irish Presidency is to ensure that the necessary preparatory work is carried forward. The Commission had undertaken to prepare a paper setting out the costs and benefits of EMU and their proposals for the final shape of EMU. This paper was made available in March and was discussed at the informal ECOFIN held in Ashford Castle on 31 March. This meeting also had before it reports from the monetary committee on monetary union and the proposed European Central Bank system and on budgetary policy in an economic and monetary union.
It was in fact the first occasion on which Ministers, along with Central Bank Governors, had the opportunity to consider issues relating to Stages II and III of EMU in detail. The discussion revealed a considerable degree of agreement on the design of a future economic and monetary union. All delegations indicated a large measure of agreement on the ultimate objective of EMU, though one delegation, while indicating a readiness to  continue to participate fully in the discussions, was unable to join in the totality of the consensus.
It was agreed that there are substantial net benefits to be obtained by the Community as a whole from EMU but that individual regions might be affected differently. Ministers and Governors confirmed that they viewed EMU in the perspective of the completion of the Internal Market and in the context of economic and social cohesion; that it should be based on the principles of parallelism, subsidiarity and diversity; and that there is a need for a single monetary policy geared towards price stability in support of the general economic policy set at Community level.
A broad agreement emerged on the overall design of a system — on the monetary side, there was support for an independent and federally structured central banking institution, which is democratically accountable; on the economic side, while the system should be more decentralised than on the monetary side, it should provide for close co-operation between member states on macro-economic and budgetary policies. To the latter end, it should contain rules and procedures designed to ensure budgetary discipline including rules proscribing the monetary or compulsory financing of budget deficits and the automatic bailing out by the Community of a single member state in difficulty. At the level of the member states and the Community, the system should also embrace policies to promote cohesion, efficiency, competitiveness and integration across the Community.
It was recognised that much work remains to be done and Ministers will continue their discussions on the design of the system and the problems of transition. The appropriate committees have been asked to provide reports on three particular aspects: the phasing of Stages II and III and the operational and institutional conditions which must be fulfilled before advancing beyond Stage I; a general stocktaking of progress made in the preparations for an IGC; and the  likely regional distribution of the costs and benefits of EMU. ECOFIN will discuss these issues further in June with a view to reporting to the European Council meeting in Dublin at the end of June.
The developments in the relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic have been very rapid over the past few months. Monetary union is now set to take place at the beginning of July. Though there is no specific role for the Community to play in the discussions between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, I have ensured that the Finance Ministers are kept fully informed of developments. At each ECOFIN meeting, the German Minister has provided a full and frank outline of what is happening and a very useful discussion has taken place.
The German Minister has made it clear at all time that the events within Germany will not lessen in any way his country's commitment to the process of achieving a full economic and monetary union within the Community. He has also made it clear that the process of creating a common German economic and monetary area will be carried out in a way which does not have inflationary or other adverse consequences for the Community. I welcome these assurances and I am confident that they will be fulfilled. In fact, I expect that these developments will have positive consequences in terms of additional growth in Germany and in Europe generally, through the spill-over of increased German demand into other countries. As regards interest rates, I am glad to see that domestic analysts are increasingly tending to discount the possibility of Irish interest rates being pushed up by events in Germany, a possibility which I felt was exaggerated from the start.
The Commission proposals on indirect taxation are an integral part of the process of completing the Internal Market of the Community. To date, progress in the discussions on these proposals has been slow, but this is perfectly understandable given the extremely sensitive  nature of the issues involved. Nevertheless, a number of significant advances were made in Council in the latter months of 1989.
While agreement on individual VAT rates has not been reached, some progress has been made in agreeing an outline framework for subsequent specific decisions on rate levels.
The concept of convergence has also been adopted. It has been agreed that member states whose standard rate already falls within the range 14 to 20 per cent should not move out of that range between now and 1 January 1993. Members states whose standard rate is outside the range should not diverge further. Deadlines were set for the further decisions necessary on the format and level of the proposed standard rate, on the scope and levels of the reduced rates and on the products which will continue to be zero-rated from 1 January 1993.
In line with this process of convergence, I reduced the standard rate of VAT in Ireland from 25 to 23 per cent with effect from 1 March. The Irish Presidency has concentrated the VAT discussion so far on the issue of the coverage of the reduced rates and zero rates. These issues are being examined at working group level and the discussions are proving fruitful. I presented a progress report on these discussions to the April ECOFIN meeting and there was agreement that this work should continue. Apart from the VAT rates, much work has to be done on the operational framework for the VAT system. This covers essentially the question of arrangements for the payment and receipt of VAT in intra-Community trade after 1992.
An outline agreement has been reached, which is based on continuation of the destination principle, under which VAT on exports is charged at the point of receipt rather than at the point of export. We must now build on this outline. In this regard the Council is waiting for the Commission to present the necessary proposals which will enable these arrangements to be formally incorporated into Community legislation. The first of these proposals will deal with the  definition of the common VAT system and the modalities of the differential treatment of certain classes of transaction, such as new car purchases, purchases by exempt bodies and mail order purchases.
I have been stressing to the Commission the importance of receiving these proposals from the Commission as soon as possible. At this stage, it seems unlikely that there will be sufficient time after their receipt for any substantial progress to be made on them during Irish Presidency.
As regards excise duty rates, the Commission submitted revised proposals to Council last December. The preliminary examination of these new proposals has already started at working party level under our Presidency and this work is continuing. While we are committed to making progress on these proposals, we are confronted with a serious difficulty due to the absence of revised or new Commission proposals on structures and control arrangements. It is already clear that, unless such proposals emerge soon from the Commission, there is not much hope of early progress in the excise rates area at Council level.
Proposals from the Commission for a progressive increase in travellers' allowances were discussed at the April ECOFIN. There was no agreement on these proposals since a number of countries, including Ireland, consider that such increases must be linked to progress on the approximation of VAT and excise rates. To move ahead with substantial increases in travellers' allowances in advance of progress on approximation of tax rates could cause significant disruption and distortion of trade.
Ireland is strongly in favour of the completion of the Internal Market, including the tax harmonisation dimension. We wish to avoid long-term derogations, but our budgetary difficulties with the Commission proposals need to be recognised and addressed. The Commission has undertaken to study and bring forward measures to deal with our difficulties, and this work is under way. I hope it will provide the basis for Ireland's effective  participation in the process of completing the Internal Market.
A major item which is being addressed by the Irish Presidency is the revision of the Financial Perspective of the Interinstitutional Agreement of June 1988. This was an agreement between the Council, Parliament and Commission on the budgetary ceilings which would apply in each year up to and including 1992.
The Commission has brought forward proposals for a revision of the financial perspective, as provided for in the agreement, to take account of new developments. A central focus of the proposed revision is developments in Central and Eastern Europe, where the Community is already showing the necessary concern and support to assist these countries to adjust to the new situation. There is agreement at ECOFIN that there should be a significant provision for assistance to Central and Eastern Europe in the Community budget over the next few years. Already, 300 million ECU have been provided in the 1990 Community budget for this purpose and it is proposed that a further 200 million ECU should now be added, bringing the 1990 total 500 million ECU.
The Commission's proposed revision also focuses on increased co-operation with Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian countries, as well as bolstering certain internal Community policies, such as environmental policy, in the context of the Single Market.
The revision of the financial perspective has to be a joint agreement between Council and the European Parliament. As might be expected, the opening positions of Council and Parliament on the issue were far apart. I have been conducting negotiations with the European Parliament over the past two months, culminating in a meeting in Dublin earlier this week with Mr. John Tomlinson, MEP, the rapporteur for the Parliament's Budget Committee. I am hopeful that this issue will be resolved in the near future.
Earlier in the Irish Presidency, I got  agreement between Council and Parliament on a revised financial regulation. This regulation governs the financial procedures of the Community and the revision has been in the pipeline for a number of years. I also completed discussions at ECOFIN on the Court of Auditors report for 1988 and a Commission report on fraud against the Community budget.
In the financial services area, the Irish Presidency has been pushing forward discussion at working group level on the proposed Investment Services Directive. This is an important directive from the viewpoint of developing Ireland as a financial services centre. It is unlikely that we will be able to bring it to the point of a Council common position before the end of our Presidency but we are moving it forward as fast as possible. The Commission have just now put forward an associated proposal on the capital adequacy for investment firms, so these two proposals will now move in tandem.
The Irish Presidency has also been active in the negotiations on the establishment of a European Bank for reconstruction and development. This bank is designed to assist Eastern European countries to develop their economies and will have participation not only from European countries but also from the main non-European countries, including the US. The Presidency has co-ordinated the views of the Community members on the issues arising in the negotiations. I am glad to say that the negotiations are nearing a successful conclusion, and I expect them to be completed by the end of June.
Looking at the overall situation, I think that the Irish Presidency has made significant progress in the economic and monetary area. This applies not only to completing the normal Community business, but also to the progress being made in areas such as the preparations for the IGC on EMU and on the revision of the financial perspective. I look forward to continuing the work over the remaining two months of our Presidency.
Mr. Dukes: I have mixed feelings about  this debate — I am glad it is taking place but this is the kind of work this House would do very much better if it had a foreign affairs committee which could devote itself on an ongoing basis to these issues so that on occasions when we have a debate in this House on an event like last weekend's meeting, the House would be far better prepared. I intend to come back to this point later.
The Taoiseach's remarks this morning consisted of nothing more than a fairly dull rehash of the Presidency conclusions issued at the end of last weekend's meeting. His remarks did not contain one single Presidency proposal. They gave no indication of any Irish view as to where the Community should be heading. They gave no indication that this Presidency has any plans as to what the Community should achieve or what preparations should be made between now and the end of June.
It was reported last Monday — perhaps the Minister will enlighten us on this — that it is by no means clear whether the Government will table their own specific blueprint setting out in greater detail what they mean by the term “political union”, at the Dublin Summit next June. Yet it seems that five other member states are expected to prepare their discussion papers which detail their vision of what political union should mean in advance of the June meeting. It seems the Presidency is content to sit idly by.
The role of the Presidency is to lead discussions of this kind, to know what the other member states have in mind and to see to what extent the views and ambitions of the other member states can be put together in the framework of a coherent plan for the whole Community. This is not being done. It seems there is a clear onus on the Taoiseach, as President of the Council, to prepare a set of guidelines before the June meeting so that some guidance and direction can be given to the member states, their Governments and the Heads of State and Government as to where they should be aiming. This House could assist in that process by having a foreign affairs committee which could have a detailed  debate on the many issues that arise in this context.
It is fair to say that today has been the first occasion — I see the Minister for Finance is leaving; I was about to pay him a compliment — we were given any systematic information on what is going on in the context of the preparations for economic and monetary union. There was not a lot in the Minister's speech but I suppose within the space of 20 minutes he is not in a position to give us detailed information. He should not have to do so in that time in a debate like this. He should be in a position to come before a foreign affairs committee of the House, so that we can all know what is in his mind, what he is doing and can give him our advice, as elected representatives of the people, as to what the Government should be doing. We could do much more than that but essentially that is what should be happening. It is anti-democratic; we have a democratic deficit in here because the only information we have got officially about what is going on in the preparations for economic and monetary union are the brief series of remarks the Minister for Finance was able to deliver himself in the context of a fairly limited debate like this. That is no way to run a railroad. It is certainly not the way this House should go about preparing its participation in planning a major enterprise for the European Communtiy, one that will have the most far-reaching and, I hope, positive and beneficial effects on the lives of the people who elect us to this House.
The Council meeting last weekend was far from being the unqualified success it has been claimed to be. Major questions about political, economic and monetary union and other issues remain unanswered. In many instances cracks have been papered over rather than filled in. I suppose I would be reflecting the views of a great many people in this House if I said that there is a certain amount of wry amusement to be derived from watching the antics of the Heads of Government of various member states as they go on  with their ritual series of press conferences at the end of the Council meeting. Our press, as always, served us extremely well in this. One gets the impression, from reading what was said at those press conferences, that people were talking about three or four different meetings, that they were not all talking about the same one. Certainly, from what I have read the meeting described by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mrs. Thatcher, was not the same meeting described by the Federal German Chancellor, Dr. Kohl; neither of them was the same meeting as described by the Taoiseach. That lends substance to my belief that instead of being filled in cracks were papered over.
Major questions still remain to be settled. In my view that places a further onus on our Government, the Presidency of the Council, to adopt substantive positions of their own, to have substantive proposals to put forward. If they do not do that, we will have a rerun of the same kinds of difficulties in June and, God knows, but we might have a rerun again of the same kinds of difficulties at the Intergovernmental Conference in December and at the parallel conference on political union. This Presidency is simply not doing the job it is supposed to do.
This Government, it seems, have now departed from a long-established Irish position which favours increasing the democratic input into Community decision-making. It is reported the Irish Government are opposed to any plans to give greater powers to the European Parliament. It is reported the Irish Government take the view that 15 MEPs have a marginal influence only, that the Government favour increased powers for the Council of Ministers rather than for the European Parliament. If that is the case it constitutes a major departure from what has been for many years a firmly established position of successive Irish Governments, not just of the Coalition Government from 1982 to 1987, but of successive Irish Governments. I should like to know why. Perhaps this present  Government take the view that they do not like extra powers for the European Parliament because they are involved themselves, as a party, in one of the most insignificant groups of all in the European Parliament. That might colour this Government's view of what can be achieved in Parliament. However, for those of us who take a wider view, the position appears very different.
Of course, my party are involved with the Christian Democrats group, the second largest group in the European Parliament. The Labour Party are a member of the Socialist group, the largest group in the European parliament. Between them, the Christian Democrats and the Socialist groups in the European Parliament, have conducted the affairs of that parliament extremely well. They have acted in a responsible way using the extra powers the Parliament has got, in a way that has always been — I say this without any fear of contradiction — beneficial to the interests of the peripheral regions of the Community and of the smaller member states of the Community. As long as that position obtains we can be perfectly confident that extra powers for the European Parliament will be properly and responsibly used for the people of our community.
There is more to say than that because individual members of the European Parliament, individual Irish members, have indeed made their mark. The Leader of my own group in that Parliament, Joe McCartin, a former Deputy of this House, has established quite a reputation for himself in the Parliament's discussion of economic affairs. Mary Banotti, another one of my MEPs, has been named one of the top ten environmentalists in Europe during the course of the year. Pat Cooney, again one of my MEPs, has been a powerful voice in the Parliament in the examination of the proper relationship between the Parliament itself and national Parliaments. John Cushnahan has gained a substantive reputation in the Parliament by his attention to the needs of peripheral regions and of smaller member states. I could go on with this  recital. I do not intend to lavish encomium on our former colleague, Barry Desmond. I am sure there is a keen appreciation in this House of the role he can play. I stress it is wrong to feel that because we have 15 MEPs only our influence is marginal; it is not; it is far from that. Christian Democrat MEPs and Socialist MEPs have a very powerful lever of influence at their disposal. They have used it wisely and sensibly. We have used that lever wisely and sensibly with our colleagues in those groups from the other member states.
I find it rather unusual to hear the Minister for Finance state, as a virtue of his plans about a European Central Bank that it will be democratically accountable and yet find that the Government are objecting to giving extra powers to the European Parliament. I recall the Minister for Finance himself has dealt with some of the functions of the European Parliament in the budgetary sphere. I had the honour of starting that whole process during our Presidency in 1984 when we made new provisions for the budgetary competence and powers of the Parliament. I am glad to say that exercise has turned out extremely well and, in my view, is a very good argument for continuing the process of giving extra powers to the European Parliament.
The reports available on last week's European Council meeting show, as I have said, that there is no evidence that the current Presidency is, in any sense, leading the debate on the future of the Community or is guiding the Community's activities. Clearly, there has been a failure of the process of close consultation on foreign policy set up under the Single European Act. That failure was most clearly marked by the recent Franco-German statement on Lithuania which was substantially at variance with the earlier, much more careful, statement made by the Twelve.
The Taoiseach takes credit for any advances made by the Community, even for the most cosmetic. On the other hand, when asked to give a lead to the Community — as he was in this House in relation to the issue of sanctions in South  Africa — he says it would be wrong for him, as President, to pre-empt discussions in the European Council. Those two positions do not sit very well together. If the Taoiseach is now saying to us he cannot offer any opinion about these matters because it is wrong to pre-empt what the Council will decide, when he must accept the consequences and not try to claim any of the credit for any Council decisions. Of course, what he should do is totally different. As President of the Council, the Taoiseach should be setting out guidelines, a framework for discussion of what is happening in the Council, not taking this passive, back seat he seems to take. He is not in any sense an active President who tries to mould the work of the Council; he is a passive chairman. It was clear that was his role last week end when Chancellor Kohl and President Mitterrand made all the running but a real President of the European Council has a duty to lead, not simply be blown about by the storm created by strong-minded presidents and prime ministers of other states.
The Minister for Finance made a most extraordinary statement about the discussions between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. He said and I quote:
Though there is no specific role for the Community to play in the discussions between the FRG and the GDR, I have ensured that the Finance Ministers are kept fully informed of developments.
That is an outrageous statement. First, it bears no relation to what is said in the Presidency conclusions which refer to the plans to keep the Commission fully informed and for the Commission to come forward with proposals for the transition period and other measures to the Council. The truth of the matter is that the Community has allowed itself to be sidelined on this issue. This is very wrong and very damaging for the Community. I have discussed this with Chancellor Kohl and it is a discussion which he does not like entering into. I understand his views perfectly; Germany, after all, is his  country but I do not believe the Community is following the right path in allowing itself to be sidelined by a strong-minded Chancellor.
The integration of East Germany into a new German state is very much a matter of concern for the European Community as a whole. Indeed, the integration of any new member state would be a matter for the Community as a whole and it is not acceptable or accurate to say that there is a difference in this case because we are reintegrating one part of a country with another. It is my view that the Presidency of the Community must insist that the Community get properly involved in all of the decisions required if German unification, which we all support and wish to see succeed, is to work properly.
It is important that we in this House look at what the objective of political union is in the Community. Why do we want political union? There are many reasons and I will deal only with some of them. Some of us want to see the Community in a position where it can play the real role in the world that a Community of soon to be 340 million people should, a role in the world economy to the benefit of everybody and a role in the development of the Third World in relation to which we need to totally modernise our thinking. We also want a Community like the European Community which is politically united to play a proper role in that, as we want it to do in safeguarding and, if possible, improving the world's environment. The countries of the European Community cannot do that on their own: the efforts of a politically united European Community can be far more effective than the sum total of the efforts of individual member states. Those are some of the reasons why we need political union but I do not see any indication that the European Council has been looking at the matter in that way. It is time it did and it is time the Presidency gave that focus and dimension to debates about European union.
It is reported that the Government are firmly opposed to the kind of common  security policy favoured by France, West Germany and Belgium and in the period since last Saturday there has been an abundance of fairly naive and, probably, misleading comment about what all of this is going to mean for that other sacred cow which still populates our fields, neutrality. It is about time the Presidency and this House began to look at what faces us there. Let us consider for a moment what has been happening and what is going to happen. Some time ago Mikhail Gorbachev took the world's breath away by making totally unexpected proposals for conventional arms reductions. We have, gladly, a very limited — it is there nevertheless — IMF treaty. Discussions are going on on the preparation of a treaty on longer range nuclear weapons and discussions will take place later this year on conventional force reductions. The Soviet Union will also be withdrawing some or all of its troops from Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. I do not think their intentions on Bulgaria and Romania have been stated.
The European partners in NATO consider it important that there should continue to be a substantial American presence in Europe and on that they are not quite ad idem with the thinking in Washington. Therefore on all those areas substantial change seems to be possible. Substantial changes in the balance of forces of capabilities in Europe appear to be facing us not so many years down the road. This will radically alter the security position, the political position and the kind of response the countries of Western Europe or indeed the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have to make to questions of their security.
I would like to feel that this House is going to look at the realities and will not hide behind this facile repetition of an empty formula which we have inherited from a gentleman who, as Deputy Michael D. Higgins said, was wont to look into his heart for guidance on these things rather than anywhere else. The European Community, if it is to develop in the way we want, is itself going to change the balance between East and  West and bring about a major change in the way the world has to look at its security. This House should be examining those issues and to do this we have to put aside these old shibboleths and perhaps if we do not shoot the sacred cow we might bring it into a different pasture where it might be fed on something more than the hot air which has been devoted to this subject for years and years.
There is one final point I want to make and this one is important. I have referred to my belief that the European Parliament should be strengthened. I would like to say in passing to my friend, Deputy Michael D. Higgins, that the principle of subsidiarity does not reside only in Quadragesimo Anno, it has been a major and serious part of the political doctrine of Christian democracy down the years and, I hope will long remain so. I am glad to see that it is now being imported into Community terminology. I also hope we will have a dose of it and that we in the reform of our Government and local government systems will apply this principle.
In conclusion, there is one gap in the preparations being made for the debates which are to take place at the end of the year and it is in relation to the involvement of the European Parliament. I approve of the Intergovernmental Conference which has already been set up on EMU. I also welcome the fact that there is to be a parallel conference on political union, and I urge the Presidency to have real consultations with the European Parliament before those two Intergovernmental conferences get down to work.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. Calleary): First, I think that when Deputy Dukes reaches the status of the man he talked about he might be able to make silly remarks like that.
We are now two-thirds of the way through the Irish Presidency and I am glad, a Cheann Comhairle, to have this opportunity to review the work of the Irish Presidency during what has proved to be a particularly active four months.
 We were very conscious when we were preparing the Presidency that the issues of relations with Eastern and Central Europe and the unification of Germany would be dominant themes during the first six months of 1990. This has proved to be the case and 1990 has proved to be a crucial year in the development of the Community, as important in many ways as, for example, the accession in 1973 of three new member states or the approval of the Single Act in 1986.
The Taoiseach has referred to the meeting between the Commission and the Government which was the first major event of the Presidency. In the course of that meeting we agreed with the Commission that a special meeting of Foreign Ministers should be held to consider developments in Eastern and Central Europe and to review the Community response. This meeting took place on 20 January. Among the important conclusions to emerge was a reaffirmation of Community support for the liberalisation process in the countries concerned, an agreement to intensify the negotiation of trade and co-operation agreements with those countries, a reinforcement of Community assistance and a request to the Commission to report on the possibility of establishing closer relations through the eventual negotiation of association agreements.
Thus, at a very early stage of the Presidency we were able to give renewed direction to the Community's relations with Eastern Europe. This approach has had very positive consequences. For example, next week the Minister for Foreign Affairs will sign, on behalf of the Community, agreements with Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and the GDR. Thus, the network of agreements with the countries of Eastern Europe will be almost complete and the Community will give a concrete expression of its commitment to liberalisation and to the re-establishment of democracy in the region.
Additional concrete support has been evident in the establishment of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and various other schemes  put in place by the Community itself or in co-operation with other democratic countries. The response has been substantial and shows the importance which countries like Ireland attach to strengthening the new democracies.
The European Council on 28 April gave a major and substantial impetus to the Community's relations with Eastern and Central Europe. The Taoiseach has already outlined the reasons he decided to call his colleagues together. I would say that the meeting has given the Community a new sense of direction in its approach to the Central and Eastern Europe. It has provided a new basis on which we can build our relationship with those countries.
Developments in East Germany have been mentioned already in the debate. Here, too, the Presidency was very conscious of the importance of German unification to the Community and the need for a clear and considered response to developments. We have been able to establish a good basis for the Community's approach to unification as is evident from the conclusions of the meeting of the Dublin European Council.
A very important aspect of the conclusions is the clear and unequivocal welcome which the European Council has given on behalf of the Community to unification and to the restoration of democracy in Eastern Europe. It is worth remembering that the democratic ideal which finds its most direct expression in the work of Parliaments such as this House was a major inspiration in bringing about change.
The Community is grounded in the democratic ideal. Its member states are united in their commitment to democracy — some have seen democracy restored from previously repressive regimes or have resisted pressure in the immediate post-war period towards the establishment of systems akin to those which have now been rejected in Eastern Europe. There can be no doubt that the success of the Community owes much to the freedoms which its citizens exercise. There can also be no doubt that the  example of the Community encouraged those seeking change in Eastern Europe.
As has already been pointed out today, the developments elsewhere in Europe have encouraged the Community to consider the questions of closer economic, monetary and political integration. The Irish Presidency is carrying on the preparations for an intergovernmental conference on economic and monetary union. We have responded very swiftly to the growing demands for progress towards political union — the outcome of last week's European Council establishes the basis for work in this area. The Irish Presidency has been able to show a flexible and effective response to the rapid pace of developments in these areas and we will continue to do so between now and the end of June.
The Presidency has also concentrated on the ongoing agenda of the Community in the wide range of subjects where the Community now has a responsibility. This has involved a very high level of co-operation with the Commission and with the European Parliament.
The Commission plays a vital role in the operation of the Community. Co-operation with the Commission has been a major feature of our Presidency and this was underlined by the meeting between the Government and the full Commission in Dublin Castle on 6-7 January. This meeting which continues a recent and, we hope, a now permanent tradition enabled the Presidency and the Commission to co-ordinate their programmes. It also had the advantage of developing close personal contacts between Ministers and Commissioners from the very outset of the Presidency. It has proved its worth in the subsequent very high level of co-operation.
The European Parliament has grown in influence since it was first directly elected in 1979. The Single European Act has given the Parliament an important role in framing Community legislation. As Presidency, we have been conscious of this. Ministers have made early contact with the committees in their areas of responsibility to indicate to them the priorities of the Presidency. Ministers  have taken part in plenary sessions, in debates on many major issues as well as in the traditional Council question time. The Presidency has shown its willingness to co-operate fully with the Parliament in the joint task of carrying through Community legislation and in discharging our joint responsibilities.
The role of Parliament, mentioned by Deputy Quinn, will be an important issue on the Community's agenda in the months to come. I am glad, a Cheann Comhairle, that Members of this House will participate with colleagues from throughout the Community and from the European Parliament in Strasbourg in a meeting in Cork next week to consider items of common concern. The national parliaments, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament all share a common role of responsibility to the Community's electorate and as such we all play our own particular functions in ensuring that the Community responds to the democratic will.
Earlier today, Deputy Quinn, in the course of his speech, which in the main was to the point and helpful — I ignore the political sniping and take it for what it was, party rhetoric — acknowledged the difficulties and the heavy workload the Presidency causes for a small country, and indeed paid tribute to the Taoiseach and the Government on the planning and the foresight evident in their preparations. He also mentioned EFTA and suggested that Ireland was hiding under the coat-tails of the French with whom, according to him, we share a common antiquated agricultural policy and that we should not be nice to the Germans because they have a fat cheque book and asked for a mandate for a European economic area to come from the June Summit. He should know that this Government do not need to hide under anyone's coat-tails. For his information, let me tell him that the Taoiseach stated this morning that the negotiations with EFTA countries would not and should not be overlooked and that while the establishment of the new European economic zone would undoubtedly enlarge the market and increase competition for the member  states the draft mandate is practically finalised by the Commission on the basis of which negotiations will proceed. However, many difficult issues still remain to be resolved.
A Cheann Comhairle, I would now like to turn briefly to a few of the areas where progress has been made by the Irish Presidency apart from those which I have mentioned. I will in the course of my remarks give a particular prominence to development co-operation which falls within my own particular area of responsibility.
The completion of the Internal Market is the most important ongoing agenda item of the Community. The establishment of the 1992 deadline and the commitment which has been shown to that deadline provided the motor which has pulled the Community out of the stagnation of the mid 1980s. In our Presidency we have maintained the momentum established over the past three years since the Single European Act came into force and this is recognised in the conclusions of Saturday's European Council.
The agriculture sector remains of vital importance to the Irish economy and it is one to which we have devoted considerable attention. The Minister for Agriculture and Food last week negotiated a prices package for the 1990-91 marketing year which responds well to the needs of the Community's agriculture as well as to the interests of Irish farmers. In the agriculture sector the Presidency has concentrated also on measures designed to complete the internal market in that sector.
The environment is, of course, a major preoccupation for us. We have made progress in this area with the agreement on the establishment of the European Environment Agency and the Directive on Freedom of Information on Environmental Issues. We would expect to make good progress on a number of other areas before the end of June.
Other important sectors where we have been able to bring about progress include research with the adoption of the framework programme for 1990-94 and in the transport sector where we have  established road freight quotas for the current year.
As is usual in every Presidency, dossiers prepared in the early months are brought to completion at the many Councils which meet in the last weeks. At this stage half of the Councils which we scheduled at the outset of our Presidency have still to meet. Preparatory work for those meetings is in full swing and the outcome of the remaining Councils will be at least as significant as that of those which have taken place so far.
Before I turn to development issues, I think it is important that I should mention briefly the Community's relations with the other developed countries. Obviously relations with the US are of major importance. The Taoiseach has outlned their significance and the important steps he has taken to put the relationship on a new and firm basis. Our relations with countries such as Japan are focused at present on the GATT round. It is very important for all of us that the GATT negotiations are successful and that the free trading system which has made such a major contribution to international prosperity in the last four decades is strengthened. In the context of the negotiations this is a major Irish objective — as is the defence of the position of our farming sector.
The Community has always attached particular importance to its relations with the developing world. In the Lomé Convention we have established a unique instrument for co-operation with developing countries. Through the aid and trade mechanisms of the Convention and through other schemes such as GSP, the Community has made a particular contribution.
This contribution will continue and will not be inhibited by the Community's new commitments in Central and Eastern Europe — it is important to emphasise that. The Dublin European Council underlined this fact when it referred specifically to the Community's special relationship with the ACP countries and to its intention to intensify its relations  with the countries of Asia and Latin America.
In April, Dublin Castle was the venue for a ministerial conference on political dialogue and economic co-operation between, on the one hand, the European Community and its member states and, on the other, the states of Central America and neighbouring countries.
The conference was held at a time of positive developments in the peace process in Central America. It was therefore an important opportunity for both sides to emphasise the need to pursue to a successful conclusion the peace process begun at Esquipulas. The Community, for its part, reaffirmed its resolve to support the efforts of the Central American countries in the search for peace, the consolidation of democracy and sustained economic development in the region.
The conference succeeded in achieving a remarkable level of consensus among the participants on both political and economic aspects of the dialogue. This consensus was set out in the Joint Political Declaration and in the Joint Economic Communique which were issued after the conference.
On the margins of this conference, an agreement was signed providing Community funding for a major project to revive trade in the region. It is envisaged that funding of over IR£92 million will be provided over 30 months. The conference welcomed this project as a positive step in response to the appeal by the Central American states for support for their efforts to strengthen economic integration in the region. If its objectives are fulfilled, major economic and political benefits will accrue to Central America from the implementation of this project.
Following closely on the success of the San José Conference, our relations with the countries of Central America as well as the other developing countries of Asia and Latin America will engage our attention again on 29 of this month when the Development Council will begin what promises to be an extremely important debate on the Community's future relations with these countries.
 The Irish Presidency has strongly encouraged the Commission since the Government's meeting with them on 6 January last to bring forward their work and their reflections on the future of the Community's relations with these countries. The Irish Presidency will initiate this debate in the Council and expects to make an important contribution to it.
In the meantime we have, under the Irish Presidency, negotiated, concluded and signed an entirely new and more comprehensive form of Co-operation Agreement between the Community and Argentina, which I had the honour to present to the European Parliament. This agreement, for the first time, provides safeguards for human rights and democracy in Argentina. We are now embarking on a similar exercise with the new democratic government in Chile.
Together with the ACP countries, which I will come back to in a moment, those in Asia and Latin America comprise virtually the entire developing world. In development matters, therefore, the focus of the Irish Presidency has been wide ranging. The Development Council under our Presidency will have a considerable agenda.
There will be major Council conclusions on environment and development, on the role of women in development, on the Community's future food aid policy and its management. We will point also to the importance of evaluation of development projects so that the recipients receive the maximum benefit from funds allocated.
Turning to the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions, the Presidency has pressed forward with the necessary measures for implementation of the Fourth Lomé Convention. The transitional measures were agreed and implemented well ahead of schedule and I am confident that we will succeed in reaching agreement among our Community partners on the internal financing agreement and the financial regulation before we hand over the chair to the Italian Presidency.
As I mentioned, the Presidency has been particularly concerned to promote  relations between developed and developing countries at the global level. To this end, the Community participated actively in the special session of the United Nations General Assembly which has just concluded. This session was devoted to international economic co-operation, in particular to the revitalisation of economic growth and development of the developing countries. Three broad issues were identified for consideration at the session.
(i) The main developments in the 1980s, and the challenges of the 1990s and an assessment of obstacles and ingredients to growth and development;
(ii) The reactivation of economic growth and development in developing countries;
(iii) Strengthening and enhancing international economic co-operation and multilateralism in international economic relations.
Among the specific issues discussed were the debt burden of developing countries, the flow of resources to developing countries, commodity prices, trade arrangements and the protection of the environment.
Guidelines for the Community's position at the session were prepared by the Council in Brussels and a major role was played by the Presidency, as spokesman for the Community, in negotiations in New York on the text of the final declaration of the session which was agreed by consensus.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs addressed the special session on behalf of the Community. In the course of his address he noted that the experience of the eighties for the developing countries varied widely. While for some of these countries the decade saw unprecedented growth; for the least developed countries the experience of the decade was largely negative. The Minister recalled that it was primarily the responsibility of developing countries to put in place appropriate policies to energise and steer the development effort. Developed  countries, for their part, had to bring about an international economic environment which facilitated sustained and non-inflationary growth. Developed countries would also be required to continue to provide substantial concessional support to the developing countries, up to one billion of which live in absolute poverty. In view of the large development tasks ahead, the European Community and its member states reaffirmed their commitment to the accepted UN target for the level of ODA, that is 0.7 per cent of GNP including 0.15 per cent for the least developed countries. The Minister for Foreign Affairs also emphasised that effective commitment to development required the access of every member of society to adequate health, education and living facilities which are the prerequisites for the creation of the human skills necessary for sustainable development.
All in all, a Cheann Comhairle, the record of our Presidency in the development area as in other areas speaks for itself in terms of achievement.
Mr. J. Higgins: A Cheann Comhairle, I wish to share my time with Deputy Garland.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. J. Higgins: It is most appropriate that we should debate the rapidly changing situation in Europe, and in Eastern Europe in particular. Our Presidency of the Community has sharply accentuated our outward awareness of events on the European mainland. Apart altogether from the fact that our membership of the EC makes it an economic and political imperative that we regularly examine developments within the Community, there is the obligation on us to look at the broader stage of world affairs even when they do not immediately impinge on us as, for instance, the affairs of Eastern Europe at present.
One of the very distinctive and happy features of Irish political existence has  been the general all party agreement on areas of foreign policy. Thankfully, we have managed, with rare exception, to achieve consensus. Indeed all the democratically elected parties in this House have been ad idem in relation to the fundamental areas of foreign policy. However, unfortunately we had the full-blooded opposition of the then leader of the Opposition, the present Taoiseach, when he full bloodedly and opportunistically opposed the Single European Act, but we are heartened that he now embraces it, that he pursues the Euro ideal and the concept of a united Europe with the zeal of Saul after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Of course it is a very noteworthy achievement that, as President of the European Community, he rightly basks in Euro-glory with a mere two months to go.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that there has been a relatively important and successful Presidency, listening to and wading through the scripts that have been issued from the various spokespersons today, there is not the meat and substance one would expect. One would hope that, by the time the Presidency ends in the last week in June, we will have seen more meat in terms of tangible Irish input into the developments of the Community. I do not want that to sound like begrudgery but there is a lot more protocol and PR than there is real substance.
Our participation in peace-keeping has been an area of singular success of which we can be justifiably proud. It has been an indication of Ireland's preparedness to play a role, at considerable cost to ourselves, on the broader world stage. The principle of military neutrality seems to achieve broad support in this country and it is one from which we should not deviate. It is in the light of such political unanimity and consensus that one finds it increasingly difficult to fathom the stubbornness and total resistance on the part of the Taoiseach and the Government, and reiterated in this House today by successive Ministers, to the establishment of a foreign affairs committee.
We now hold the Presidency of  Europe. We are flaunting our badge as good Europeans throughout the length and breadth of the globe. We are at one in relation to a foreign affairs strategy. We have committees at party level and within the House, we even have a committee which looks after the organisation of the bar and the restaurant yet for some reason we cannot break down the psychological barrier to establishing a foreign affairs committee. It does not look good, it does not sound good, it does not make sense and there is no logic to it. It cannot even be described as an Irish solution to an Irish problem. It can best be described as nothing other than leprechaun logic and that, unfortunately, is how it is seen abroad.
I was in Russia recently as part of the first Inter-parliamentary Union and the people there were aghast that this country, which at present holds the Presidency of the EC, cannot see its way to breaking down the mythical barrier to the establishment of a foreign affairs committee.
Last year I had the pleasure of being present at the Humbert School in Ballina. One of the themes which was most vigorously debated was de Gaulle's dream of a united Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. There was a marked flavour of optimism there, and that was last August. We were optimistic about the movement towards greater EC cohesion, European monetary union and establishing a more concerted, cohesive, united front within the Community, the development again of greater political union. This was tempered to no small degree by developments in the USSR where the leadership, in terms of preparedness of inward reform and outward diplomacy, gave to this western world two new words in the vernacular: perestroika and glasnost. Nobody at that conference or indeed in the world could possibly have foreseen the rapid pace of change.
The free elections in Poland, which ended the dominant role of the Communist Party and gave the previously outlawed Solidarity the paramount role in Government, were revolutionary by their very occurrence, apart altogether  from their speed. The rapid democratisation of Czechoslovakia and Hungary has been acknowledged as amazing in terms of speed and sheer occurrence. The overthrow of the corrupt régime in Romania will hopefully, in time, find full expression in a true Government based on people power. The unification of Germany, apart from its national and historical origins, is an event the rapidity of which was largely unforeseen this time last year. It is obvious, as has been acknowledged, that German unity will have consequences for the European Community. I disagree fundamentally with the statement of the Minister for Finance that it is largely a question for Germany themselves to resolve and that the Community would merely adopt the role or posture of observers. Apart from Ireland's role as President of the Community, we have a fundamental role in relation to supervising, being party to or being involved in the whole process of German unification.
The more we embrace a greater section of Europe into the Community, the more we consolidate the ideal of the United States of Europe. Of course there is a very natural apprehension, anxiety and an undercurrent of fear that peripheral regions of the community like Ireland will suffer in relation to the disbursement of funds, but collectively we take a considerable amount of solace from the very judicious remarks of German Premier Kohl that they are committed Europeans first and that German unity, while very desirable and understandable, is a secondary consideration in relation to the developments within the community as a whole. Inevitably other countries will apply for EC membership in due course and we must evaluate each application on its merits. If the accelerated pace of change in Europe continues in the next decade at anything like the pace in the past year, at the turn of the century we will have a greatly expanded, enhanced and hopefully more vigorous Europe than we have at present.
The key figure in all of this must  undoubtedly be the USSR. The bold political direction taken by President Gorbachev three years ago is something that has to be acknowledged by all fair-minded people and by discerning powers in the western world. Undoubtedly, the success of this role in perestroika and glasnost, liberalisation, the breaking down of demarcations and the whole liberalisation of a process that has been hidebound and hamstrung for so long, and that has worked within particular strictures is a very difficult and dangerous task. You are talking about introducing to the Soviet Union a convertible currency because the rouble is not now convertible, and that brings all its attendant applied and implied dangers in terms of inflation and competitiveness on the open market. There is a nationality problem. While we, as Irish people, sympathetically concur with the aspirations of the different States to have autonomy, at the same time one wonders if the pace of change should not be tempered to allow the whole process of liberalisation to take place rather than reverting to a more restrictive form of central government.
Again, we are talking about removing, State by State, from the union a particular segment with the grave danger that you remove the interlocking forces that bind an economy together. We are talking about the possibility of giving independence to various States, a number of which possess nuclear weapons. We know that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is something that not alone we disavow but that, hopefully, will become part and parcel of the general scale of degeneration of nuclear weapons over a period of time.
We have the quite understandable fear of the Soviets facing the whole new world of free market economy. Of course, there is the very understandable fear that when restrictions and barriers are removed there will be a massive exodus or brain drain in terms of scientists, engineers, doctors, artists and so on, but all those things have to be understood. We should try to reduce the perceived threat from  the outside in relation to the welfare of the Soviet Union.
Here, I believe, our neutrality is of vital importance. If ever any country was bequeathed the possible role of being the honest broker it is Ireland as a non-aligned military force. Over the years we have cherished our neutrality. We have managed to protect it despite various assaults and subtle inferences from the outside but, it has stood us to good stead and never more so than at present in relation to putting Ireland up front as a possible honest and trusted broker in relation to the welding together of a trust, a confidence and a friendship between the EC and the forces in Eastern Europe. As has been said, we should look at our neutrality and evaluate it, but I would not in any way favour tempering it.
Mr. T. Kitt: Hear, hear.
Mr. J. Higgins: Within the next decade we will see a breakdown of the military alliances. The old military blocks of NATO and the Warsaw Pact will become a historical past rather than a pertinent and relevant present. The NATO forces on one side and the Warsaw forces on the other will be political rather than military alliances.
I welcome the opportunity of participating in this debate. I urge the other side of the House and the Progressive Democrat component in that Government, which was so vocal in relation to espousing the cause of a foreign affairs committee, to make as much noise as possible because to be without such a committee does not make sense and is without rhyme or reason.
Mr. Garland: It is presumably safe to say that every Member of this House welcomes increased international co-operation. No one here would support an isolationist attitude to the rest of Europe or the world. Everyone recognises the need to safeguard human rights around the world. We all reject claims by oppressive Governments that how they  treat their own citizens is an internal matter.
The Green movement throughout Europe has been at the forefront in advocating international legislation to tackle transglobal environmental problems. This is now widely accepted as being crucial to the survival of planet earth and its inhabitants.
Existing European organisations such as the EC, the Council of Europe and the CSCE have done much to safeguard human rights in their member states. They have, as yet, done relatively little in the environmental sphere. Indeed, a common declaration appended to the Single European Act stated that the EC's environmental policy could not override member states' energy policies.
The Council of Europe and the CSCE have largely been overshadowed by the EC which has made strident moves towards integration. However, developments in the EC, particularly in recent years, have been led mainly by economic interests rather than any principled desire for international co-operation.
What the EC has introduced is not economic co-operation, which would be welcomed by all, but economic centralisation which the Greens reject. This might be excused if it could be shown that everyone would be better off for it. Quite the contrary, all the indicators are that the gap between richer and poorer regions is widening all the time. The Single Market is certain to widen it still further.
The bitter pill of economic centralisation has been sweetened by claims that the EC is pursuing a united Europe of all nations, that it is setting an example of how different peoples can work together, that it is getting rid of borders: these claims have been repeated by previous speakers today.
People outside of the EC do not see it so favourably. There has been much concern about a fortress Europe. It may be eliminating its borders within but it is reinforcing its borders with the rest of the world. Recent developments, I believe, expose the fact that this latter view, which  has also been the view of the Green parties in Europe, is the more accurate one.
It has been a source of great sorrow to everyone in Europe that the Continent has been partitioned for four decades. Now that the Iron Curtain is being torn down, any organisation which truly wants to embrace all of the countries of Europe should surely now be trying to find ways to facilitate the re-emerging democracies.
Instead, the EC holds an emergency Summit to accelerate integration within its borders which will undoubtedly make it far more difficult for other countries to join should they wish to do so. While the Iron Curtain comes down, the EC is pulling a new one across. So, the EC's cover is finally blown. What it is trying to achieve is an elite club of 12 which will dominate Europe and, they hope, the world. By dominating Europe they will be able to exert strong economic pressure on the countries that have so far refused to join, picking them off one by one, effectively blackmailing them into joining the Community on the EC's terms.
What we are seeing is Orwell's 1984 in the making. Granted, it is happening a few years later but then nothing moves very fast in the EC — which is something for which we should probably be grateful. Across the world trading blocks are developing, in South-East Asia, North and South America, The Gulf and North Africa. These will undoubtedly be eager to follow in the footsteps of the EC.
We will then have a world divided into continental blocks each trying to throw their economic weight around. History has shown that this is usually followed by throwing their military weight around.
What do the ordinary people of the EC countries think of all this? Well, the fact is that the Governments do not care what they think. The Single European Act was only put to a referendum in two of the Twelve member states. We need not pat ourselves on the back for being one of them as both the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition and the following Fianna Fáil Government did everything in their power to avoid it, and Deputy Barry had the nerve today to call for more public debate.
 Who will get to decide the next moves? Will the Irish people be allowed to vote on it? Given that the Government are reluctant enough even to allow Members of this House to have an input, in that they still refuse us a committee on foreign policy, I very much doubt that our citizens will get much of a chance. I would fully agree with Deputy De Rossa's call for an Oireachtas committee on developments in Europe.
I have criticised the EC's reaction to current events. Now I will outline what the Green Party-An Comhaontas Glas believe should happen. Firstly, rather than accelerating integration the EC should suspend all further moves in this area until the situation in Eastern Europe stabilises. We believe that future developments must involve all countries in Europe and should be led by a genuine desire for peace, the maintenance of human rights, freedom of movement and the tackling of environmental problems. Developments in other areas, such as economics and culture, should be primarily of a co-operative rather than centralist nature.
The organisations best equipped to deal with these aims are the Council of Europe and/or the CSCE. Both have a much wider membership than the EC. The Council of Europe is very likely to welcome the eastern countries to its ranks in the near future. I was pleased to hear the Taoiseach call today for a widening of the scope of the CSCE. I welcome the Taoiseach's recent proposal that security issues should not be taken on by the EC but should be dealt with instead by the CSCE. However, the difference may well be only theoretical as long as Ireland participates in the EC group at the talks instead of with the group of neutrals and non-aligned nations. If Ireland is to make a genuine contribution to peace in Europe this can be better achieved by co-operating with the neutrals rather than NATO members.
As regards German unification, this should primarily be a question for the German people to decide for themselves. We would of course very much prefer  to see a neutral, radically demilitarised Germany. But then what is good enough for the Germans should be good enough for France, the UK, the Soviet Union, the US and everyone else. Whatever happens it is entirely unacceptable for policies on German unification to be motivated by the racist idea that the Germans have some sort of natural inclination towards starting wars. This comes from an extremely selective view of recent history. It is a matter of great concern, though, that the Taoiseach made no reference today to the issue of the alignment of a united Germany.
It is decision time in Europe, but before the people of the Continent can properly determine their destiny together we must wait for the situation in individual countries to stabilise. Then we must choose if we want to take the EC's path of a centralised European union, remote from its several hundred million citizens, or a decentralised Europe of small autonomous regions which co-operate on a continental and global level and which guarantee human rights and proper representation for all their citizens. The choice is not for the people of Ireland nor the people of the EC. It is for all the people of Europe.
Mr. T. Kitt: I listened with interest to the Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Alan Dukes, who dealt with the issue of neutrality in rather colourful terms. He painted the new map of Europe as he saw it. He talked about the American presence and the Soviet military withdrawal from Eastern Europe and he said it was time to shoot this political cow, neutrality or, if not, at least bring it into different pastures. I, for one, strongly object to putting down this political cow. Perhaps a slight change of diet will be required for this animal in the next decade, but I see no reason for a shift in our principal policy of neutrality. Indeed, I welcome the fact that Deputy Higgins, who is here in the Chamber, expressed a different view and I agree with him that our traditional position will be very significant in the years ahead. I have always felt we have had a very  strong pivotal role to play, which we should continue, between East and West. I welcome the fact that there are different views in the Fine Gael Party and, no doubt, in other parties.
I congratulate the Taoiseach on initiating and arranging a special meeting of the European Council last week to discuss German unity and developments in Central and Eastern Europe. We have all been surprised at the pace of developments and I share with many previous speakers appreciation of the role played by President Gorbachev in bringing about these developments. We are faced with challenging times ahead.
The Taoiseach prepared for this European Council meeting very well. He toured all the EC capitals seeking the views of the leaders to establish priorities concerning the Dublin meeting and to find where there was agreement. It was to very important to establish where the consensus was and there was no point in bringing leaders together unless he was aware of their views. He did all that with extreme caution and put a great deal of time and energy into that course of action. The result was broad agreement on German unity and on rapid and steady progress towards political unity. President Mitterrand of France and Chancellor Kohl of the FDR in particular wished to accelerate the political construction of the Twelve. Now we will have an Intergovernmental Conference on political union to be held parallel with a conference on economic and monetary union. We were discussing these issues last year as if they were going to happen years down the line. Unlike some Deputies here today, I think we should look positively towards these developments as our Taoiseach has been doing, and we should become centrally involved in the formation of these new structures. It is important to get the economic and financial basis right and understand the consequences of German unity for the Community.
The European Council rightly welcomed the developments in Eastern Europe, the historic changes and the emergence of a united Europe. At  present we are witnessing a united Europe that will be committed to democracy, full respect for human rights and the principles of a market economy. The people of Central and Eastern Europe need our assistance. Deputy Higgins quite rightly referred to what he found when he visited there, as did many other Members of this Parliament. The Taoiseach referred to the need for patiently negotiated solutions to the various problems within our states. He welcomed German unity under the umbrella, as he said, of the EC. We have a vested interest in a smooth and harmonious transition period to contribute to faster economic growth in the EC. The FDR will keep the Community fully informed of developments and the Commission will be fully involved in the discussions.
The existing commitments to peripheral regions of the European Structural Funds will be maintained, and Ireland has a vested interest in this. It is important to realise what is involved here, that 16 million extra people will be joining us and that European unity and German union can be addressed at the same time. It is the practical way to proceed. The FDR is strong. Chancellor Kohl is saying he is not looking for aid — that speaks for itself — and that unification will not take place at the expense of others. He merely wants the Community to allow for sensible transitional measures and he and the Community and the Presidency have been talking about the three phases, first economic and monetary union; secondly, political unification; and, thirdly, the process of Community law which will eventually apply to all Germany. That is a very clear, structured approach.
We will have a new market for Ireland. Trade with Germany at the moment is on the increase. The Taoiseach pointed out this morning that exports to the FDR increased by 18 per cent last year and the number of German visitors to this country increased by 37 per cent last year. They are sizeable increases in the economic and social links between our two countries. Work on the completion of the  Single Market has progressed well under the Irish Presidency.
With regard to EMU, because of our economic discipline we are well placed to benefit even further from our membership of the EMS. We have below average inflation and interest rates and, to be successful in Europe, a Community of over 340 million people without barriers and restrictions, we must maintain strict budgetary discipline and proceed on the course we are adopting at present.
The issue of political union has been referred to time and time again and concerns have been expressed about it. The Irish Presidency will seek from the Foreign Ministers a range of proposals rather than one specific model of political union. The role and functions of the Community institutions will be covered. At the Dublin meeting it was confirmed and we ensured that the decisions will soon be taken on the Single Market, economic and monetary union and political union. Therefore, the Community will be strengthened and transformed.
Political union should be clearly defined. The Taoiseach refers to full respect for the principle of subsidiarity. That means those functions best carried out at national level will continue to be dealt with at that level and matters which require common action will be dealt with at Community level. The Foreign Ministers should adhere strictly to that agenda in ensuring that that principle of subsidiarity is clearly established and defined.
With regard to security, the Community partners wish the NATO alliance to continue and the US to continue its involvement in European defence, so within that forum defence and military matters will be discussed.
With regard to relations with other countries, the Community will act as a political entity. Progress towards restoration on democracy and freedom in Eastern Europe with the prospect of arms reduction, makes it necessary that we form a new framework of peace, security and co-operation throughout Europe. The CSCE will provide this framework,  a useful and important forum, and obviously the Community will play a major role in discussions within the CSCE. This framework will play a significant role in the years ahead and, as has been pointed out, every country in Europe, with the exception of Albania, together with the US and Canada, are members of the 35 Nation Conference.
The primary role is to build confidence and co-operation and the reference to security means more than defence and armaments. It also embraces political and economic aspects such as human rights, the environment and cultural co-operation. Those issues need to be agreed and defined. The summit meeting of the CSCE will be held before the end of the year in Paris. Possible new institutional arrangements within the CSCE will be introduced and there is the possibility of the setting up of a small secretariat. I see this as a strong force on human rights within Europe and for dealing with countries outside Europe.
I was impressed with the speed of the Community's response to the needs of developing Eastern European economies. The Council is encouraging private investment and the Commission is studying the implementation of the most appropriate accompanying measures. Already the Council has got down to the business of assisting Eastern Europe. Association agreements will be made with each of the central East European countries. These will open up the establishment of an institutional framework for political dialogue. Basic conditions for this support are that these countries should continue to establish democracies and market orientated economies. We must not alienate or ignore the important EFTA grouping. I should like to encourage our Government to promote close co-operation with Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. We can learn a good deal from those good partners, particularly in regard to human rights. Norway has a strong policy on human rights particularly in relation to Cambodia and South Africa. It is important that we should encourage good  developments with those EFTA groupings.
The Taoiseach has put the emphasis on strong association with the US and has initiated regular meetings with that country. He has developed a positive and fruitful relationship with President Bush whose approach to Europe is more positive and outward-looking than that of his predecessor. He looks on Europe as an area with potential for development and with which he should increase economic contact. The Taoiseach brought an added dimension to the Presidency. Apart from the dramatic internal progress, we have established firm links with the US and have confirmed continued strong relations with Japan, Canada, Australia and other major economies. The healthy functioning of democracy depends on a proper system of checks and balances. We should look closely at the proposed changes in the institutions.
When discussing changes in institutions and political union inevitably we should examine carefully how Ireland's interest might best be served. Allowing a majority vote at Council level might be to our benefit. Our record to date at this level would suggest that. Giving more powers to the Commission may be beneficial, depending on the portfolio given to the Irish nominee. Perhaps the President should be elected. I would be very fearful of giving more power to the European Parliament as that would lead to German domination with Ireland having a mere 15 members involved. At least on the Council we have one member out of 12. The next few months will give us an opportunity to look coldly at what developments might take place in Europe in the years ahead. There is no doubt in my mind that France, with its wealth of history and culture, and Germany with its strong reputation in industry and for hard work, will have a hidden agenda. Let us not fool ourselves, we are forming a united states of Europe. One danger I see, because of large vested interests, is a tight French-German axis that will dominate the new powerful economic and political union into the next century.
Germany will dominate Eastern  Europe and we must be vigilant that Spain, Britain, Italy and Ireland are not marginalised. That is why we need to clarify and define political union, the position with regard to the sovereignty of individual states and project into the future. Ireland has a very respected independent position at UN level because of our neutral policy, as referred to by Deputy Higgins and others. While attending a debate on disarmament at the UN I noted the international interest in the position adopted by the Taoiseach who was addressing a special session of that body. That independent position adopted by us as a neutral country at UN level, and the independence of other countries at UN level, should be encouraged and, indeed, institutionalised in some way when forming political unity.
There is a difference between our UN involvement and our relationship within the European Community. There must be scope for our country to stand apart from the common political approach if the need arises. In particular, that should be the position in relation to human rights. For example, Sweden has from time to time been courageous on human rights issues in Cambodia and South Africa.
Ireland should maintain its independent role in extra-European affairs. We are different from other European nations in many ways. For example, we have a reputation abroad as an independent neutral nation and we have particular links with the United States and Australia because millions of our people live in those countries. We should not weaken that link through political union. There is no doubt that integration and union will not come about without a great deal of effort. I heard little reference to the relationship between European union and our Constitution. It is a complex area as the Crotty case showed when there was a challenge to the Single European Act. We should not forget that the Supreme Court found in Mr. Crotty's favour and we were forced to have a referendum. At last we are having a proper debate on Europe. I can recall the former Taoiseach, Deputy FitzGerald,  saying that if we did not sign the Single European Act we would be bad Europeans. We did not have a proper debate on that issue but now we are having a full debate on Europe.
The debate has, quite rightly, come down to defining our nationality and where it and co-operation with our partners will divide. Monetary union through the EMS has brought us considerable success. Being locked into Germany has brought us stability. The economic success of Europe has been largely due to the economic strength of Germany. Their commitment to monetary stability, low interest rates and low inflation has brought great gains to Europe. We must acknowledge that. The British have been urged time and again in recent years to join the EMS. I should like to issue a word of warning on this issue. If the British joined the EMS now and a second major variable was introduced into the EC economy it might have a destabilising effect. After all, Britain has massive balance of payments problems, higher interest rates than the rest of us and that despite the fact that she had a mature and industrial economy and a huge injection of cash from North Sea oil. That was, in fact, transferred to those already well-off. The poor are suffering and the British education system has not kept pace with developments internationally. The British should get their own house in order before they are brought into the EMS.
We should move towards monetary union in a structured way. We should allow Germany to sort out its own economic affairs under a European roof. We should not underestimate the task involved in bringing about monetary union. Let us take, for example, the question of the harmonisation of European tax. The proposals to harmonise corporation tax rates and capital allowances involve two issues: (1) the rate of tax and (2) the way one calculates taxable profits in so many different ways in different countries. This is an extremely complex issue and the more members there are  the more difficult it becomes. In our discussions and deliberations we should aim for something attainable in trying to harmonise taxes rather than crying for the moon.
The dramatic changing political complexion in Eastern Europe is to be warmly applauded and I encourage and welcome the firm recognition and support for this process given by the European Council. The move from totalitarianism and democratic centralism with such relative ease and speed to genuine democracy and free elections indicates that man's spirit and sense of justice and freedom can in the end win over repression and corruption. These people deserve our continued support, morally and financially. The rapid growth and the formation of a powerful united states of Europe is an exciting and challenging prospect. We must not merely think along the lines of internal monetary and economic development although I have no doubt that will be a major economic force in the next century.
Having provided aid to Poland, Hungary and other East European countries we must also be conscious of our humanitarian obligations to those less privileged in the world outside Europe. I am thinking in particular of countries like Ethiopia and the Sudan — indeed the whole African Continent — where thousands are starving and in great need. In the North-South divide we must not renege on our responsibilities. I am thinking of our obligation to those in urgent need of development aid in Central America and Cambodia. I welcome the Minister, Deputy Calleary's reference to the co-operation agreement under the Irish Presidency between the Community and Argentina providing safeguards for human rights and democracy. I am pleased that a similar agreement is being arranged with the new democratic Government in Chile.
We must never place vested interests before human life. The day the mark, pound or franc take precedence over human life in any part of the globe will be a bad day for the Europe of the future. Let us place our commitment on human  rights firmly on the record before we even contemplate any form of political or economic union.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): This series of statements is on recent European developments. And what tremendous further developments there have been in our Continent and in the European Community since our last wide-ranging discussing in this House on European affairs.
Pride of place must go to the now, I believe, irreversible momentum that has developed towards the unification of Germany. As a nation itself affected by division, we in Ireland can more than most others, understand and identify with the emotions of elation among the German people in both existing states. As someone who, as a Member of this House and as a Minister of State, has been involved in the intensification of German-Irish parliamentary relations, I wish to express my own deep satisfaction that German unification is taking place and that it is taking place, in the words of the Presidency Conclusions of the recent summit, under a European roof.
As the Taoiseach rightly recalled, the Federal Republic has, since our accession, amply proved itself a friend of Ireland in the Community, a partner which has shown solidarity and understanding towards our concerns and interests. I am, therefore, very happy that it is a European Council meeting in Dublin that has expressed a warm welcome for German unification. I know that this is deeply appreciated by our German friends.
The Strasbourg Conclusions set out the views of the European Council on how developments in regard to the German Democractic Republic and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe should be handled. Those Conclusions were wise and fully deserved the support we gave them, but it would be idle to deny that the momentum towards German unification had given rise to varying degrees of anxiety in different countries. I believe that the warmer tone  of the Dublin Conclusions reflects credit on the success of the diplomatic efforts of the Federal German Government and the concrete steps they have taken to ensure that the external aspects of German unification contribute positively to stability in Europe, something that is of vital importance to Ireland, no less than to other countries.
In regard to a more immediate Irish interest, the funding of Community structural policies, it has now been made crystal clear that the costs of integration of the GDR into a united Germany and into the Community will not in any way affect the agreements reached on the funding of the Structural Funds up to 1992. The position thereafter remains to be determined. The Commission's paper on German unification prepared for last Saturday's Summit refers to the absence of a reliable statistical basis for the application of Community structural policies once the current territory of the GDR becomes part of the Community. It says, however, that it can be assumed that it is beset by the same type of problems encountered by other regions of the Community and that it will therefore be eligible under one or more of the structural policy objectives.
It has, of course, always been the position of this Government that the achievement of economic and social cohesion in the Community is a Treaty objective in its own right, by no means applicable only for the period during which the Single Market is being created but rather a continuing imperative over the longer term. It will, therefore, be our position that there is a continuing and, indeed with the prospect of EMU, an increased need for structural policies and support after 1992 and any funding after 1992 for parts of what is now the GDR will require a commensurate increase in the Community resources devoted to structural policies and a consequential increase in the Community budget, a subject on which I shall have more to say later.
In public debate on the implications for Ireland of German unification and of the developments in Central and Eastern  Europe, questions have been raised, going well beyond the implications for the Structural Funds as to whether there would be adverse effects for us. As far as German unification is concerned, the Commission paper already mentioned concluded that it would have a positive effect on growth in the Community as a whole. This is an important point because in discussions on this subject there is an undue tendency to look upon the situation as a zero sum game, where if others gain, we must lose.
It is, of course, far from being this. Looking beyond Germany, to the other countries of Eastern and Central Europe, it will take some years before normal business and trade opportunities on a substantial scale will open up. However, in the medium-term, there should be a tremendously positive effect on the EC economy as the pent-up demand in those countries is, if we assume a benign scenario, made effective, under the influence of economic restructuring, currency convertibility and Western assistance, in a repeat of the experience in Western Europe with Marshall Aid and the European Payments Union. The potential for economic stimulus to the Community economy, including Ireland, must be enormous.
Already, indeed, there is scope for management and other training in many parts of those economies, for language training, for consultancy advice on techniques of promoting development in market economies, all areas in which Ireland has more recent and relevant experience than many Western countries. A small investment now could pay large dividends in the future. The Government have taken a number of specific steps to bring the opportunities concerned to the attention of Irish business. On Wednesday next, we shall be welcoming, for a working visit, the Prime Minister of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, with a range of Departmental Ministers and officials, a number of whom will be having separate bilateral meetings with their counterparts here.
There is, of course, no doubt that  countries in Central and Eastern Europe will now offer stiffer competition in the attraction of mobile international investment. However, recent decisions by major US and Japanese corporations indicate that the earlier enlargement of the Community towards the South has not adversely affected our capacity to attract major investment from those regions of the world and developments East of the Elbe should not change this situation which is based, primarily, on our young and highly educated population.
While I felt it important to bring out these strongly positive elements in the situation, there will undoubtedly be a closer focus in the Community, over the next few years, on Central and Eastern Europe and this is likely to be particularly true of Germany.
Closer relations with the non-Community Scandinavian countries will intensify relations to the North, and Denmark looks to benefit as does, for example, the Schleswig-Holstein region in Germany which is also, of course, well placed in relation to the German Democratic Republic. The Danes are talking about a whole series of new bridges to exploit the potential they see. For other reasons — basically, as one of my Community colleagues put it to me, to avoid boat people in the Mediterranean — the Community has opened a debate on substantially stepping up its support for the development of the countries on the southern littoral of the Mediterranean, the combined population of which is already 115 million, a figure which is projected to double by the year 2025. All of this raises the question: what of the West? And here I mean the West of the Community but with the west of Ireland very much in my mind.
Various studies, including in particular one by the French regional development body DATAR, of the relative prominence of 165 cities in the Community, Austria and Switzerland with populations above 200,000, bring out, once again, the heavy concentration of growth in a central megapole but with a second, increasingly prosperous area dubbed the  North of the South, taking in Catalonia, the French Mediterranean coast, Tuscany and Emilia-Komagna with Romagna, in Italy, and parts of the Italian Adriatic. Both these poles are characterised by density of population and of economic activity forming intensely connected networks. These elements are missing in the regions along the Atlantic coast, where cities are rather spread out, isolated from each other and of moderate weight and development.
I have outlined this perspective of economic geography, first, in order to underline the extent of the challenge confronting us in Ireland in the coming decade and secondly, as a background to what I want to say about the assignment of policy competences in the context of economic and monetary union and, indeed, of the political union now opening as a prospect with which we have to get to grips.
So far as the challenge to ourselves is concerned, we in Ireland start from a much more solid base, thanks to the policies implemented since the change of Government in March 1987. We have been closing the gap with our Community partners. On the latest Commission figures for the index of relative economic performance per head of population, with the EC average as 100, Ireland is shown on 67.3 in 1990, up 7.4 points from 59.9 in 1973, whereas Spain, Greece and Portugal are all shown as having lost ground, relatively, since 1973.
The conclusions of the European Council meetings last Saturday state:
—the preparations for the Intergovernmental Conference on EMU which are already well advanced will be further intensified with a view to permitting that Conference, which will open in December 1990, to conclude its work rapidly with the objective of ratification by Member States before the end of 1992; and
—the European Council confirmed its commitment to Political Union and decided ... that Foreign Ministers  will undertake a detailed examination and analysis on the need for possible treaty changes ... and prepare proposals to be discussed at the European Council in June with a view to a decision on the holding of a second intergovernmental conference to work in parallel with that on EMU with a view to ratification by Member States in the same time-frame.
Ratification of any Treaty changes would very likely call for a referendum in Ireland on necessary amendments to the Constitution.
An issue that is coming very much to the fore in both these contexts, and one that is of vital importance for Ireland, is the application of the principle of subsidiarity, according to which, as defined in the report of the Delors Committee on Economic and Monetary Union, the functions of higher levels of government should be as limited as possible and should be subsidiary to those of lower levels. That report said adherence to this principle would be an essential element in defining the appropriate balance of powers within the Community in an economic and monetary union. As specifically noted in last year's NESC report, the Delors Committee report states:
Thus, the attribution of competences to the Community would have to be confined specifically to those areas in which collective decision-making was necessary. All policy functions which could be carried out at national (and regional and local) levels without adverse repercussions on the cohesion and functioning of the economic and monetary union would remain within the competence of the member countries.
As the NESC report says, Ireland need have no difficulty with this as a principle. We certainly do not support any excessive centralisation of powers or functions in the Community. We espouse a Community in which, as President Delors said in his speech in Bruges last year, diversity and pluralism are upheld. We agree with  him that integration in Europe, a Community of ancient nations, has to be a sui generis process.
The report of the Guigou Group of high-level representatives of member states on EMU drawn up last year under the French Presidency also poses, inter alia, the question, under the heading, economic and social cohesion, and I quote:
In assessing progress in convergence between Member States' economies, what criteria can be used to determine which matters in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, are appropriate for Community action.
The issue has also been raised explicitly in the context of political development and union. In an address in Brussels on 30 November last, on the theme, “Governing Europe”, Commission President Delors expressed the view that subsidiarity will have a new, vital role to play in the organisation of government in the Community, so much so, indeed, that the principle and its mechanisms will need to be defined in any new Treaty. It has also been suggested in the European Parliament that the assignment of policy functions under EMU should be explicitly defined in any new Treaty or Treaty amendments. The recent memorandum of the Belgian Government on political union which was discussed at the Summit last Saturday also proposes that the principle of subisidiarity be formally written into the Treaty and that this broad provision should be supplemented by more precise details of respective powers in sensitive areas in which national traditions frequently differ.
As I have said, we in Ireland have no difficulty with the principle, but the issue is the application of the principle. It would appear from other references in President Delors's Bruges speech and, indeed, from the report of the Delors Committee, that there is a tendency to apply the principle so as unduly to restrict the areas in which the Community and its institutions would have competence and responsibility. It is to be welcomed  that the President now sees a Community budget rising to 5 per cent of Community GDP but other references appear to leave to the exclusive competence and responsibility of the member states a number of policy areas where I believe, as do the NESC, that the Community should have a parallel involvement. Moreover, the paper submitted by the Commission to the informal ECOFIN, which I attended in Ashford Castle on 31 March, was less satisfactory than the Delors Committee report in its treatment of these issues.
The NESC report rightly points out that there are economies of scale, externalities and spillovers attaching to the provision of certain public activities which provide reasons these activities might be assigned to a higher level of government. Examples might be, respectively, air traffic control, environmental regulation and educational provision. They note that an additional criterion is political homogeneity or the feeling of belonging to the same political grouping and sharing the same interests and destiny. It would be foolish to suggest that the commonality of identity and interests between people from different member states is yet anywhere as strong as that which exists among the peoples of the individual member states, but I note that, again in his Bruges speech, President Delors looked to every European having the feeling of belonging to a Community which would, in some sense, be his or her second motherland, and we are now looking towards a situation to be designated a political union.
This has many implications in regard to People's Europe but if it is to happen, it will be necessary that the Community, as I have said, cherish each of its citizens equally. Certainly, the member states have, as also recognised in Article 130 B of the Treaty, their own responsibilities for their development and for the welfare of their citizens but, with increasing integration, it will also be necessary to give fuller practical expression to the Community's obligations under that Article. Here it is relevant to recall that, as NESC point out, the theory of fiscal federalism  strongly suggests that the redistribution and stabilisation functions should be carried out at the highest level. They reminded us in their report, commissioned by President Delors, that the Padoa-Schioppa Group expressed the view that “greater Community involvement in stabilisation and redistribution policies is the indispensable complement of the ambitious project of completing the internal market”. It might be felt that, in current circumstances, it would be unrealistic to envisage that the Community should exercise these functions. The situation should be different in an economic and monetary union, and still more so in a political union but, even there, it is scarcely realistic, or even perhaps desirable, to contemplate the Community exercising exclusive responsibility in such areas as social security or regional policy.
I mentioned fiscal federalism a moment ago. In his Bruges speech President Delors spoke of the merits of the federal approach to the further development of the Community. If we look at models such as the Federal Republic of Germany or the United States, we see that a prominent feature of such federal unions is the concurrent exercise of competences in various fields. The Padoa-Schioppa Group envisaged a greater need for policies to be shared between the Community and the member states. I am not now proposing a federal model or indeed any particular constitutional model but there is nothing against taking from the models we have the elements that are appropriate to the Community's unique circumstances. One can imagine a situation in which major parts of the responsibility for decision-making in regard to such areas as educational provision or unemployment compensation remains with the member state but where this is paralleled by an active Community role in ensuring minimum standards of provision and welfare, including, through financial support in areas such as these, going beyond the boundaries of what is covered by the Structural Funds at present. Again, there is nothing very new  here — some of these were proposed in the 1974 report of the Marjolin Group.
This implies a larger Community budget. Whether 5 per cent of Community GDP is enough is perhaps a question for another day. The important point of principle is that the NESC are right that application of the Delors Committee's own criterion that the assignment of policy functions should be related to the repercussions on the cohesion and functioning of an EMU suggests that the Community will need to exercise a competence, concurrent with the continuing competence of the member states, in a wider and deeper range of policy areas than is, apparently, being contemplated in some quarters. By reference to Articles 130 A and 130 B of the Treaty, the effectiveness of the functioning of the EMU must be judged by, inter alia, the effect on economic and social cohesion; and if real convergence of the different economies is retarded rather than advanced by EMU, the cohesion and stability of the union will, sooner or later, be adversely affected. The Community must have the policy competences and financial resources required in order to effectively promote such convergence.
The report of the Delors Committee states that excessive reliance on financial assistance through regional and structural policies could cause tensions. It continues:
The principal objective of regional policies should not be to subsidize incomes and simply offset inequalities in standards of living, but to help to equalize production conditions through investment programmes in such areas as physical infrastructure, communications, transportation and education so that large-scale movements of labour do not become the major adjustment factor. The success of these policies will hinge not only on the size of the available financial resources, but to a decisive extent also on their efficient use and on the private and social return on the investment programmes.
I would not disagree with this but even  with the most effective use of financial resources, it appears probable that, as in existing nation-states, federal or otherwise, it will also be necessary to have a system of financial flows linked to certain fiscal, economic and social indicators and not determined on a discretionary basis, if the emergence of unacceptably wide gaps between different parts of the union is to be avoided.
The size of the EC Budget at about 1 per cent of Community GDP is far too small to make a really significant impact in achieving economic and social cohesion. In 1992, the budget will still be no more than 1.2 per cent of Community GDP, even after the doubling of the Structural Funds. This falls, as the NESC report brings out, well short of what economic authorities consider necessary as a basis for progress towards a durable and stable EMU. The report of the McDougall Group, cited by the NESC, considered that a budget of 5-7 per cent of GDP, though much smaller than in mature federations, would be adequate if it was high powered. By “high-powered” they meant fulfilling to a high degree the redistributive and macro-economic functions that are to be expected of an economic union but, at the same time, aiming at minimum Community-level public expenditure and minimum centralisation in the supply of goods and services.
Some commentators on the NESC report last year picked up its own comments on the question of the degree of political homogeneity needed before there can be agreement to assign policy functions to the Community level and especially to expand Community budgetary support into fresh fields, extending beyond those concerned with structural development of the component economies. These commentators suggested that this degree of political homogeneity was unlikely to emerge in the Community in the near future and that consequently the NESC analysis and prescriptions on European integration provided little basis for practical policy purposes. But, as the NESC itself pointed out, the  degree of political homogeneity changes and develops over time and, as experience shows, sometimes in discrete leaps. When we look forward towards political union we are surely contemplating such a leap.
One of the aims in view in connection with possible Treaty changes under political union is, according to last Saturday's Conclusions, “enabling the Community and its institutions to respond efficiently and effectively to the demands of the new situation”. Various issues have been raised in this context: further strengthening of the powers of the European Parliament, further extension of qualified majority voting to new areas, progress towards common foreign and security policies. I do not wish to take anything from the importance of these areas when I say that, in my view, the objective I have quoted also requires that the work now to be done must also give a central place to the powers and competences to be exercised by the Community in the economic and social areas, whether exclusively or concurrently. It has been the consistent policy of successive Irish Governments that closer political cohesion must be firmly rooted in closer economic and social cohesion. This must remain a guiding principle as the Community faces into the tasks defined at the Madrid, Strasbourg and Dublin Summits.
Tá mé buíoch gur tugadh deis dúinn díospóireacht fad-réimeach mar seo a bheith againn i gcaitheamh an lae. Tá súil agam go gcuireann sé tús le díospóireachtaí a bheith againn go rialta ar chúrsaí Eorpacha sa Teach seo. Tá áthas agam a fheicéail go bhfuil an Seanad le díospóireacht den chineál céanna a bheith acu an tseachtain seo chugainn.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): Last week-end's Summit in Dublin was one of genuine historic significance, significant because there was unanimous agreement on the desirability of achieving German unification and full membership of the European Community of the German Democratic Republic by 1993. It was historic also because the Twelve leaders agreed in principle to advancing the cause  of political union within the Community. It is now the task of the Foreign Ministers to explore the detailed agenda for this highly ambitious project with a view to reporting back to the next Summit meeting due to be held in Dublin in June.
It is perhaps worth reflecting on why it is that a Summit meeting called to explore the issue of German unification should have expanded itself into the wider domain of political union. In my opinion there are at least two significant threads coming together to suggest why this is so.
In the first instance, since the Berlin Wall tumbled early in November last, the process of German unification became inevitable. The first hints of that prospect were found only weeks earlier when what was described as the “People's Revolution” in Hungary began to pull back the Iron Curtain by dismantling its land border with Germany. However, the inevitablity itself did not determine the path or pace towards unity. What emerged in Germany itself — partly under the pressure of the massive exodus from East Germany, and partly to take advantage of a benevolent climate, especially in Moscow, while the going was good — was that the Federal Republic's leading politicians, expecially Chancellor Kohl and Foreign Minister Genscher, injected enormous pace into the debate. That pace was accompanied by what at the outset appeared to many as an unfortunate ambivalence on the eastern boundaries with Poland about a United Germany. Within the European Community anxieties emerged as so much unfolded without what was seen as due consultation. That was hardly surprising since, for everyone involved, it was a leap into the unknown.
Since those early and heady days, more particularly since March 18 when the elections in East Germany produced an emphatic result, it seems to me that a more mature and reflective response has emerged. This resulted just two weeks ago in the Kohl-Mitterrand initiative which established a dynamic not just for a new Germany but also for a more coherent and, in a political sense, new Europe. That initiative ensured that the  worst fears and anxieties about a possible “born again” Germany were to be replaced by a clear understanding that a united Germany genuinely would be part of a united Europe.
A second thread which converted the Summit on German unification into the wider question of European Community political union relates to the more general context which has emerged in Central and Eastern Europe since last autumn. The emerging democracies in those countries have opted for free and open elections and for democratic pluralism. They have opted to found themselves on a respect for individual liberty, a respect for human rights and for moving progressively towards the perceived benefits of the mixed economy. Their role model in many respects is the European Community.
After the Second World War two Europes emerged. The one in Western Europe, the European Community, with all its faults, found its strength in solidarity, economic substance, and pooled sovereignty which stands in stark contrast to the failed entities of Central and Eastern Europe — the second Europe which has emerged the poorer and more ravaged from its post-war experience. That second Europe looks to the Community not just for aid and technical assistance but also clearly for full participation in the fullness of time. That is what President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia has said. It is also what the new democratically elected leaders in Hungary have said. Herein lies the historic challenge to the European Community, to so develop and order its business as, in the medium term, to sustain the fledgling and emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and, in the longer term, to embrace them fully into the European Community family.
This historic task and challenge facing the European Community cannot be met successfully without undertaking further reform of how that Community itself operates. Without reforming how itself proceeds, the European Community, as we know it, will flounder under the weight of inertia. This is so because the  burden of future enlargements will inevitably add exponentially to the complexity of the European Community itself. Consequently, considering the absolute desirability of ensuring that German unification is placed firmly in a process of European unification and the parallel necessity for the Community to reform itself in a manner befitting its new historic role, it is little wonder that the central issue of last week's summit became the European Community itself.
This leads me against that background analysis to praise the Taoiseach for the tremendous personal commitment and effort he has invested in this task and equally to say, as Leader of the Progressive Democrats, that the time has now come to initiate a major national debate here at home in Ireland not to do with our Presidency but rather with ourselves and our role in this wider European challenge. At the minimum that debate will need to discuss the role, functions and powers of the various European institutions, the Commission, Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. It will need to examine the principles which will govern the determination of which jurisdiction, European or national, is best suited to handle different matters of public policy. It will need to engage in a root and branch examination of the size and functions of the Community budget and it will be obliged to confront, in all its aspects, the implications which follow from the development of common security and foreign policies in Europe. That is the primary national challenge to confront us in this House which follows from last weekend's summit.
Though not dealt with by the Council on Saturday last, it is important to highlight here again that one of the major economic objectives of the Community is to ensure a successful outcome to the Uruguay Round negotiations at the end of this year. The round will set the rules for international trade for the foreseeable future, certainly into the 21st Century. Ministers from the major industrialised and largest developing countries met in  Mexico from 17 to 20 April for negotiations on the progress of the round. The meeting was crucial in preparing the ground for a successful conclusion to the negotiations in December.
Ireland was invited to attend as Presidency of the European Community — the first occasion on which the Presidency was ever involved in these events. As Presidency in office, my job was to ensure the fullest possible co-ordination between those member states present, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands, and the Commission. I suggested and oversaw procedures to ensure that the Commission would articulate the Community's position, with member states intervening in support. Cohesion was thereby maintained in all topics throughout the conference.
The meeting was significant because it was the last opportunity for ministerial discussions between developed and developing countries before the final ministerial meeting in December. Overall, there was general agreement on the importance of giving political impetus to the negotiations, with outlines of solutions in each negotiating topic to be established by the end of July.
It was quite clear, however, that a successful outcome depends effectively on agreement in the agriculture and textiles sectors. Both developed and developing countries attach importance to a substantial result on agriculture. The Community's position was maintained throughout and I took the opportunity to stress the importance of respecting European farming tradition and of maintaining a strong rural society not only in Ireland but in Europe generally in the context of any eventual outcome. As regards textiles and clothing, the Community is already committed to eventual liberalisation of textiles/clothing, but subject to the adoption by exporting countries — mainly developing — of improved GATT rules and disciplines.
Concessions in agriculture and textiles will be very difficult for Ireland because of the importance of these two sectors to  the economy, accounting for approximately 30 per cent of total employment. However, a successful round should bring benefits overall, increasing access to third country markets for our exporters of goods and services.
It is particularly important, however, that negotiations on agriculture between the United States and the European Community should not become over-dramatised. For this reason, I suggested to Mrs. Hills, the United States Special Trade Representative, that regular contacts between the United States and the Community would be useful. It has since been announced that talks will now take place fortnightly at official level between the Commission and the United States to ease the existing stand-off and to see how the gap between both sides can be bridged.
I have arranged an informal meeting of Community Trade Ministers in Dublin on 19 May which will focus exclusively on the Uruguay Round on the basis of a strategic policy document from the Commission. The meeting will afford Ministers a further opportunity to give political direction to the Commission negotiators. Most of all, the Community now requires this kind of direction, as we approach the final stages of the round, so that whatever outcome is achieved, it reflects an acceptable balance of interests, even within the Community itself.
In the build-up to the European Council on Saturday last there was a disquieting and inaccurate statement made by one of the participants that the Irish Presidency had allowed the process of Single Market reform to slip from top gear. This was suggested on the basis that only a limited number of measures appeared to have been approved so far during our term. I want to take this opportunity to lay this serious misrepresentation to rest, unequivocally and finally, by reference to the facts.
To anyone remotely informed about the process, it is obviously misleading to talk nowadays about numbers only as a measure of progress towards the Single Market. At this stage, it is universally  recognised that we are now at the point when all the easy Internal Market decisions have been taken. The time for chalking-up easy numbers has passed. What remains on the agenda, to be addressed by member states are, for the main part, the most difficult items, technically and politically. Increasingly, therefore, informed judgments about Presidencies are, to those who know what they are talking about, based on the quality rather than the quantity of measures successfully put through the system.
Let me, therefore, put the record straight about the work of the Irish Presidency so far, within the parameters of the Internal Market Council, for which I am responsible. At the outset, we have sought, as a matter of policy, to focus on key issues which up to now have not progressed satisfactorily, mainly because of their great sensitivity for member states. That is not to say we ignore the several technical matters still requiring attention. On the contrary, many of these continue to be cleared by us but, right now, I want to isolate matters of policy importance in terms of 1992.
In our February meeting, consequently, we put much effort into the Public Procurement Directive for excluded sectors, a file of considerable economic and symbolic importance, and international interest, in the 1992 context. Despite past difficulties, we achieved an agreed position on the measure and it has widely been reported since as a milestone in the Internal Market process.
In addition, at the same Council the Presidency arranged a full and new presentation by Commissioner Brittan in regard to the opening of insurance services throughout the Community. It then committed itself to an intensive programme of work at working group level to achieve significant results during our Presidency. This commitment will soon be realised in Councils later this month and in June next. Similarly in February, the Council revived discussion on some Company Law Directives — the fourth and seventh — in an attempt to give significant political direction in areas  where serious blockage had occurred in the past.
In the Informal Council in Ireland at the end of March, as well as considering the Fifth Progress Report on the Completion of the Internal Market, Ministers had a political discussion on the most sensitive aspects of the European company statute — which everyone will know has long been a difficult subject. It was unanimously agreed among Ministers that the discussion was helpful and that thinking had advanced significantly. Furthermore, though it was an informal Council, we agreed that the Commission should explore the possibility of introducing a new export credit insurance mechanism to help smaller member states like Ireland take advantage of the new business opportunities in Eastern Europe.
In our forthcoming May and June Councils we have arranged other opportunities to make advances in some significant policy areas and these will be fully grasped. Further to our commitment last February, three insurance directives will be before the May Council. In addition, we will initiate a political discussion, in an attempt to resolve technical blockage on the subject of legal protection of computer software, which is of significant international interest. We will be aiming for a common position on this in June. Again, in May, we will have a further political discussion on the difficult aspects of the European company statute.
The probable agenda for the June Council is very extensive and will provide the basis, we confidently hope, for the adoption of many technical measures and the realisation on common positions on many aspects dealt with earlier during our Presidency. One particularly important political issue in our June Council will be the subject of the right of residence of economically non-active persons, e.g. students, pensioners, etc. Adoption of the directives involved will be widely recognised as an important political achievement.
Generally I should like to add that it is  a well recognised tradition among Presidencies that towards the end of the period of office work volumes tend to balloon. This is because it naturally takes the best part of the duration of the Presidency for the bulk of priority work addressed throughout at working group level to reach Council. I make no apologies that this is the case also with the Irish Presidency, as it was with the French Presidency before it and the Spanish Presidency before that. The important thing is that Ireland continues to be committed fully to the realisation of the Single Market as a matter of policy priority. From the viewpoint of the Internal Market Council itself, for which I am directly responsible, I propose to maintain the rate of work so far undertaken and to translate that work into positive results by our last Council in June.
There are, of course, other Councils involved, in a vital way, in ensuring that progress towards the Single Market is fully maintained. For example, of the 139 proposals on the Council table 50 are in the veterinary and phytosanitary sector and 18 concern the harmonisation of indirect taxation. In the transport area also, some crucial decisions must be taken. As I say, the Councils involved in these areas are the responsibility of other Ministers but the House may take it that all Ministers are fully aware of the importance of making every effort during our Presidency to advance Internal Market proposals which fall within their area of responsibility.
I would now like to touch on our commercial relationships with those countries which, not so long ago, were known as the Communist Bloc, and in particular with our economic and trade relationships.
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe were traditionally a backwater in terms of Irish trade. However, the upheavals there in the last year changed all this dramatically. It became clear, fairly quickly, that the welcome new democracies needed to be underpinned by substantial and real economic development. This created a major political impetus in the EC to respond to the  economic needs of these countries. The EC response was dramatic. The EC Commission now co-ordinates all the programmes of assistance of the G24 — the group of 24 developed countries — to Poland and Hungary. This aid programme is now being extended to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and Yugoslavia. The massive aid flows to these countries, coupled with internally generated wealth, will have the effect of bringing these countries to the international marketplace both as buyers and sellers.
In January of this year, the Community set itself the task of completing, under the Irish Presidency, a network of agreements on trade liberalisation and commercial and economic co-operation with all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. These agreements represent an important stage in the development of contractual relationships between the Community and these countries. They are a tangible proof of the Community's commitment to enhanced co-operation across what was once a divide. I am pleased to say that such agreements in relation to the USSR, Poland and Hungary are in place and operational, those in respect of East Germany, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia will be signed in Brussels next week and the negotiating mandate in respect of the proposed agreement with Romania is being prepared. Therefore, we are well on the target in terms of the task set last January.
We tend to refer to the rapid pace of developments in Eastern Europe. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the Community is also moving very rapidly in this area. The agreements referred to above are now being called “first generation” agreements and work is in hands, at Community level, on a new form of “association” agreements which will broaden and deepen the commitments between the EC and CEE countries.
In so far as Ireland's bilateral trade with these countries is concerned, the base from which we work is small. However, the prospects for long-term increasing trade are now brighter than at  any time in the past. This is not to say that it will be easy for our exporters to trade there, particularly in the immediate future. I have been particularly concerned to monitor trade possibilities in Eastern Europe. My Department organised a briefing in March for the major semi-State and private sector companies trading in Eastern Europe aimed at pooling our knowledge of developments in that region with a view to identifying areas of opportunity. My Department and CTT are now engaged in developing a strategy aimed at maximising such opportunities.
A major economic conference on the subject of East-West trade was held under the auspices of the 35 nation CSCE in Bonn at the end of March/beginning of April. In addition to the normal CSCE process of developing a framework at governmental level to encourage trade and economic co-operation, this conference brought together for the first time, large numbers of businessmen from Europe, the US, Canada and from the Soviet Union and other Central and Eastern European countries.
I addressed this conference both on behalf of the Community and on behalf of Ireland and while there, I took the opportunity of having a series of bilateral meetings with my opposite numbers from Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania. We discussed various ways of increasing trade flows between our countries. It was clear to me from these discussions that while all of these countries know exactly where they want to go in terms of economic development, the various methods of achieving this ambition were not always clear. I took the opportunity of suggesting that they consider the economic developments which had taken place in Ireland in the last 30 years or so as a blueprint of how an economy can be transformed. We have the expertise to help them achieve their economic aims, an expertise which above all, I stressed, is independent and neutral. Such bilateral trade contacts are continuing. Next week I will again meet the Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Trade. The following week CTT have a  trade mission in Hungary. I am planning to visit Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia before the end of June.
I am suggesting that Irish companies trading with Central and East European countries will have it easy but it is important not to overlook the potential. It is important to gain a foothold in markets which can develop and become very profitable. Nationally, it is important to help develop economic stability in those countries in Central and Eastern Europe when they need it most. Neither am I suggesting that all countries in Eastern Europe, nor all of the USSR, will be profitable markets. Irish companies must be selective in their marketing approach, as they are in the rest of Europe. They might profitably concentrate in regions of Eastern Europe and not necessarily those around the capitals.
Mr. Hogan: I want to thank you for allowing me to raise this matter. Insurance costs are too high. Insurance is a heavy burden for motorists, especially young drivers. It is even more serious for employment as many firms find the cost of employers' and public liability insurance prohibitive. Recent increases in insurance rates were prompted by an increase in the number of road accidents and the resulting claims, an increase in the cost of car repairs and spare parts, higher levels of damages awarded and the readjustment to compensate for excessive rate reductions to the competitive pressures over the past two years.
It cannot be stated often enough that insurance premiums are directly and inextricably linked to claims. In large part it is action by the individual, a firm, or even the community itself which will bring about a reduction in insurance costs ultimately.
The features in the insurance industry that need to be addressed include cost, availability of insurance, competition and safe practices. Contributing to the high  and escalating costs of insurance is the high level of uninsured driving, legal costs, vehicle defects, the claim consciousness of the Irish public and compensation levels. We are told that the frequency of whiplash claims here exceeds that of the UK several times over. In the Republic of Ireland in the past year or so the number of people making whiplash claims as a result of accidents has increased by 15 per cent. We are fast acquiring a reputation as the greatest claim conscious State in Europe.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce recently reacted erratically to the increasing level of insurance costs. First, he singled out the Bar Council of Ireland, then the courts and recently he spoke about changing the system of paying compensation. This haphazard and uncoordinated approach to the problem in my view, is not the solution. The Minister has had time to bring forward his radical plans to reduce insurance costs, but as he undoubtedly realises, it will take a concerted action by many Government Departments to bring about a reduction in motor insurance premiums over a period.
It is disappointing that the abolition of trial by jury in High Court personal injury actions has not brought the anticipated reduction in claim costs. It appears that the new system of trial by judge alone has led to an increase in the level of damages being awarded. I suppose much will depend on the outcome of the cases now before the Supreme Court, and the attitude that court will take to levels of compensation will signal the way compensation claims will go in future. The increase in the cost of claims coupled with the appreciable rise in the number of claims has forced many companies to increase premiums in recent months. There is no doubt that we are generous in the manner in which we compensate accident victims. The public will have to accept that changes in compensation, particularly for minor or less serious claims, will have to be made in order to reduce premiums, otherwise the consumer must be content to pay the high level of insurance premiums required to  fund such generous levels of compensation.
We already know the reasons for the high cost of motor insurance: our high accident rate, the high cost of settling claims under our present legal system, and the high incidence of uninsured driving. I am calling on the Minister to take a major initiative to reduce the level of road accidents. This would contribute enormously to a reduction in motor insurance costs and I ask the Minister to enter into discussions with his colleague, the Minister for the Environment, to do so. In fact, he has only to examine the number of hospital beds occupied by road accident victims to know the huge deployment of State resources to deal with road accidents. The following could contribute to a reduction in road accidents: a special Garda traffic squad to strictly enforce road traffic regulations; the elimination of accident black spots around the country; compulsory testing of vehicles over four years old; and a minimum standard of driving for provisional licence holders. The implementation of these measures would contribute to a reduction in insurance premiums.
There could be a reduction in claims if we had major reforms of court practices and procedures to reduce the level of fees to the legal profession, particularly since the abolition of the three counsel rule. Indeed, it has come to my notice that in spite of the abolition of the three counsel rule, the level of fees continues to remain as high as ever. It is for the Minister to initiate legislation to set the correct amount of fees which should be levied in this case.
The Garda Síochána have insufficient powers and they should have considerably more powers to impound all uninsured vehicles to eliminate uninsured driving. Payments for less serious claims, which are much higher than in the UK, should be agreed outside court, and this would make it less expensive. I am particularly alarmed that there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel in the amelioration of the present financial  problems of the insurance industry. Various insurance companies have made substantial losses in 1989.
I am involved in the insurance business and I have a vested interest which I declare this evening in so far as I have been engaged in the insurance business for many years. The Guardian Royal Exchange Insurance Company had a policy in giving full open driving insurance and this opened the floodgates for provisional licence holders and young drivers who had little or no experience and the company have experienced many difficulties as a result of that policy. They have now restricted the cover they had prior to 1989 and it is now very difficult to get insurance cover for young drivers; indeed, if they can get cover, it is very expensive. Other companies have put restrictions on policy holders, and it is now difficult to get public liability insurance cheaply. The Minister will be aware that some businesses find the cost of appropriate public liability insurance to maintain their existing staff levels let alone increase staff to keep the business going, prohibitive.
Some ill informed commentators anticipate that premiums for policy holders will be reduced after the completion of the Internal Market. However, nothing could be further from the truth, when one considers that 75 per cent of the Irish insurance market is operated by foreign companies. The Government, insurers and policy holders have a role to play in bringing about a reduction in the number and cost of claims, thus reducing premium levels. I am calling on the Minister to urgently launch a concerted initiative so that consumers can expect to get a reduction in insurance premiums in the future.
Mr. O'Malley: It is clear that claims frequency, the cost of claims arising and underwriting losses are increasing. Therefore, one cannot expect insurance rates to stabilise when the costs which these rates must absorb are increasing. However, one must recognise that there are signs that motorists, as Deputy  Hogan has suggested, are becoming frustrated, to say the least, at the level of premiums they are required to pay. This is hardly surprising given that before the recent increases, our premiums were among the highest in the world, and certainly seemed to me to be the highest in Europe. This unsatisfactory state of affairs is not just sheer chance or bad luck. Premiums are so high because our costs, and in particular, our awards are among the highest in the world.
The crunch question, I suggest which society must ask itself is whether we want a continuation of these large awards and other heavy costs and the continuation of abnormally high premiums, or do we want normal costs and awards and normal premiums? Having asked ourselves that question, we and society generally must then endeavour to answer it honestly. Up until now we have been dishonest. We have said, in effect, we want higher awards than anywhere else, we want to bring more claims, both genuine and spurious, than anywhere else, but we do not want to pay more than anybody else. We cannot live this lie any longer. It is time to begin to face up to reality. I am the person who is expected primarily to give some guidance towards resolving these apparently conflicting interests. I believe we need to take a fundamental look at the manner in which and the extent to which compensation is determined and paid to those who sustain personal injuries in this country.
A large insurer recently asserted that the average Irish third party injury claim was six times more expensive than the equivalent figure in the United Kingdom. I ask, why this is so, and thus my recent references to the need to give consideration to the establishment of a tribunal for personal injury claims. Likewise, we need to consider the possibility, as other countries have also done, of no fault liability in such claims. I am not certain that no fault liability would necessarily be more satisfactory or cheaper, but some countries have found it so. If we had a simple system of awarding compensation, would it not be  cheaper and more efficient than our present cumbersome and prolonged court system? We need to start debating and answering these questions.
I am grateful to the Deputy for, at least in a very brief way, allowing us to begin that debate in this House tonight.
It is necessary that the debate be broadly based and not just confined to the predictable responses of vested interests, which unfortunately has been the case since I spoke on this matter a few days ago. Let people who are representing consumer interests and general interests, and not just vested interests, contribute to it. I have put forward some suggestions and although they may not be the wisest or the best in the world at least they are positive suggestions. I believe they will do much to alleviate the appalling problem we have, a problem that we cannot continue to suffer from and one that I will endeavour, notwithstanding the efforts of vested interests, to change and improve for the benefit of the people of this country, both in terms of business users and personal or social users of the various services concerned.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We must be patient because the Minister for Justice has not been alerted to the fact that the debate concluded earlier than anticipated. I would ask Deputy Fennell if she would mind waiting until he is here.
Mr. O'Malley: If you wish, I will endeavour to reply to the debate. It is within my domain of competence.
Mrs. Fennell: I would like to thank you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, for allowing me to raise this important matter on the Adjournment and to thank the Minister opposite for waiting to reply. Although I am disappointed, I understand why the Minister for Justice is not here for the debate.
An unprecedented situation exists at present in our prisons, in that with only one exception — Wheatfield prison — there are no visiting committees meeting. This means that within those prisons there is no independent body to which a prisoner can have recourse with a complaint, a grievance or even a plea for help with a personal problem. No other Minister, as far as I am aware, has ever so long-fingered these appointments. If this is not the Minister for Justice breaking the law, it certainly is a case of treating it with cavalier disregard. In section 2 of the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925, it states: that there shall be constituted, in the manner provided by this section, a visiting committee for every general prison, every convict prison, and every such visiting committee shall consist of such numbers of responsible persons, not being more than 12 nor less than six — as the Minister shall think proper.
This is a statutory requirement and despite numerous requests from several Members of this House in the past four months, no action has been taken. I suggest the Minister's failure in this event goes beyond a likely breach of the law. For the people living in tense conditions, such as is the case in Mountjoy, having the facility to speak freely in private with a member of the visiting committee could make all the difference in preventing an outbreak of violence or indeed a suicide. I feel a dangerous situation prevails now.
Why has the Minister left this matter so long? Does he see the committees as an irritant which he could well do without? Perhaps the delay in question is linked with, but should not be linked with, the controversy over the 1988 Mountjoy Prison report, which has been with the Minister for 14 months and has still not been published. From the leaked version of the 1988 report in The Irish Times of Tuesday last it is a critical account of conditions and events. It calls for action, as has every other prison report before it.
The people who drew up this report, the facts of which are now in dispute, are deeply committed lay people who give a great deal of their time voluntarily. They take the job of being a prison watchdog very seriously. It was, I know, only after  very careful reflection and consideration that they made such a frank report and included it in the allegations of the actions of male prison officers in the women's prison during disturbances there on 31 December 1986. Such an allegation would not have been thoughtlessly made, and I am told that all the members of the former committee, despite the fact that they come from different party political affiliations, are standing as one behind their claim. There are other serious criticisms in the report about prison hygiene, shocking over-crowding, particularly during hot weather, and the awful conditions in the women's prison. All of these deserve answers. As was pointed out in the editorial in this morning's The Irish Times, there is mounting public unease about the conditions in Mountjoy Prison and it makes a call for action.
I think it is hard not to feel that the Minister really does not know what is happening in the prisons. Indeed he misled the Dáil in answer to questions from Deputy Jim O'Keeffe on 13 March last. To the question about the delay in publishing the report, he said — column 2293 of the Official Report:
The publication of the report referred to has been unavoidably delayed due to staff commitments to other areas of pressing urgent work within my Department. The report will be published in the next few weeks.
What does he mean by “staff commitments”? The truth is that there was an unholy row going on and it seems any old reason was good enough for the Dáil as long as he could keep the lid on the row. A further answer, again at column 2293, Question No. 142, on 13 March on the reason visiting committees have not been re-appointed says:
I am finalising arrangements for the appointment of visiting committees to prisons and places of detention and expect to appoint these committees at an early date.
What is “an early date”? Almost two  months later there has been no announcement and no action. If these are the visible signs of ministerial inaction on prison policy I dread to think what the extent of the inaction in areas that we cannot see and examine is.
It is most regrettable that the matter of prison administration and prison reform has to be dragged up so tediously on Adjournment Debates like this and that responses have to be dug out of the Minister and the Department and that they are so inadequate and lead to no real solutions. Will the Minister wait until we have a serious riot like Strangeways before taking effective action?
This debate and our Adjournment Debate of 7 March are only scratching at the surface of the real problem. What is needed is the setting of realistic targets for prison reform, based on the Whitaker report, and the allocation of funds on a phased basis for these reforms.
I accept, as does the editorial in this morning's The Irish Times, that in other areas of his Justice portfolio the Minister has shown enlightenment and taken decisive action but in the prison area his style is to lie low and do nothing. I would like to assure him that those of us who raise this matter do so from a genuine concern to push reform ahead as quickly as possible. I accept that the ideal solution, as envisaged by the Whitaker report recommendations, would be beyond the possibilities of public spending at the present time, but some reform initiatives and a response to the very real problems must be forthcoming. I believe it would be in his interest and certainly in the interests of prisoners if he would see those anxious for penal reform, such as the visiting committees, Members of this House, social workers and others, as allies and not adversaries.
I would make three recommendations to the Minister for serious consideration, all of them in the Whitaker report, and none would cost exorbitant amounts: 1. Appointment of an inspector of prisons with overall responsibility for monitoring their efficient, fair and orderly administration; 2. Alter the  method of appointment of visiting committees. Change delegated responsibilities and improve the procedures under which they operate; and 3. Appoint a full-time, permanent medical director to Mountjoy Prison who would be responsible for all forms of therapy for offenders.
In conclusion, I would ask the Minister to end the considerable bitterness over the 1988 Mountjoy report by publishing it, by thanking the prison visitors for their three-year contribution and either reappoint all of last year's committees or by the end of the week announce the new members. Most importantly, Deputy Burke should come into this House and state what his prison policy is and give other Members an opportunity to contribute objectively and practically to a debate which could deal comprehensively with the needs of our prison population and those who work in prisons.
Mr. O'Malley: On behalf of the Minister who is unavoidably absent due to the collapse of the earlier debate, I would say that the reports of prison visiting committees are published as part of the annual report on prisons and places of detention. The annual report on prisons and places of detention for 1988, which was printed some time ago, is being returned for printing in order to include in it a statement which contains the following:
This Annual Report, in accordance with normal practice, includes reports by the Visiting Committees attached to the various custodial institutions. One of these — the Report of the Mountjoy Visiting Committee — contained material which, in the Minister's judgement, required investigation prior to publication. The Report, which is expressed to be “for the calendar year 1988” states that—
We are appalled that male officers attired in helmets and visors and equipped with riot shields should chase and baton female prisoners in  enclosed areas. The use of such force even to quell such a disturbance is abusive. In the heat of the moment the excitement and fear of such confrontations is increased dramatically. The use of excessive force should be forbidden and new rules introduced to prevent its recurrence.
Neither the prison authorities nor the Department of Justice had any knowledge of any incident of the kind described taking place during 1988 or indeed of any incident prior to that period in which “excessive force” had been used or allegedly used. Because of the gravity of the allegation and its potentially serious implications for offenders and staff alike, it was obviously ncessary to investigate the matter.
The Visiting Committee, when contacted, acknowledged that no incident of the nature inferred had taken place during 1988. As a result of further investigation it emerged that they were referring to an incident which took place on 31 December 1986.
The prison records show that at 6.20 p.m. on that evening offenders in the recreation area began to behave in an aggressive manner towards the staff present — all of whom were female officers. They were complaining that they had no cigarettes and were informed by the staff that cigarettes would be supplied. By 7 p.m. the offenders had become more aggressive and began throwing chairs and other items at the staff. The alarm was sounded and male officers who had earlier been placed on stand-by as a precautionary measure were then called in to restore order. The disturbance was quickly brought under control.
The report of the Medical Orderly states that eight women proceeded to cut their arms and were treated for those injuries at the prison. Two of those concerned were escorted later to hospital and returned within an hour. Three further offenders were also  escorted to hospital and they, too, were returned within an hour.
Disturbances among female prisoners are normally dealt with by female officers. If, however, a situation arises where these officers consider that they require the assistance of male officers, this assistance will be provided. When a disturbance is sufficiently serious — when there is a clear risk of injury to staff or other offenders as there was on this occasion — the officers may, if the prison authorities deem it necessary, be supplied with batons and other protective equipment which is available.
It appears that this equipment was supplied to staff on the night in question. The disturbance at the prison was quickly brought under control but there was nothing to suggest that the degree of force used to bring this about was excessive.
The statement goes on to deal with a number of other points in relation to the visiting committee's allegation, and finally, it includes a letter on the matter which the Minister received from the legal advisers of the Prison Officers' Association.
Incidentally the Minister issued a press statement last week dealing with the visiting committee's allegation. Copies of the statement are available here should any Deputy wish to have one.
In relation to Deputy Fennell's query about the appointment of a medical director for Mountjoy the position is that interviews have been taking place this week for the post. The Minister expects to receive a recommendation from the Civil Service Commission and to be in a position to announce the appointment of a medical director very shortly.
On the question of overcrowding in prisons generally and particularly in Mountjoy, the position is that Wheatfield Prison which has 320 cells is being filled gradually. It is already two-thirds full and it will be fully occupied within the next few months. A new unit is to be constructed in Mountjoy for prisoners suffering from infectious diseases. It is clear  that significant progress is being made in providing additional accommodation.
In regard to the women's prison, where this unfortunate difficulty arose, the Minister has already stated on a number of occasions recently that it is not feasible, unfortunately, to close the women's prison at present. He is satisfied that the best interim solution is to have it fully refurbished which he is proceeding to have done at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mrs. Fennell: When will he be reappointing  the visiting committees? Has the Minister any information on that?
Mr. O'Malley: At the moment a visiting committee is appointed for Wheatfield. The term of office of the other committees expired on 31 December. The arrangements in relation to the appointment of visiting committees to the other prisons and places of detention are now being finalised. The Minister for Justice expects to appoint those committees very shortly.
The Dáil adjourned at 7.10 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 May 1990.
17. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if any studies have been carried out by his Department to examine the consequences of the Channel Tunnel for transport policy for this country; and, if so, if he will give the main recommendations of same.
25. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will investigate the possibility of establishing a boat-train link between Ireland and Britain to allow exporters benefit from the Channel Tunnel in 1995.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 25 together.
My Department are continuing to monitor closely developments in relation to the Channel Tunnel. The extent to  which our passenger and freight movements will benefit from the advent of the Channel Tunnel from June 1993 onwards will depend on the quality of the road and rail link between the Channel Tunnel and the ports on the west coast of Britain serving Ireland. As recently as 27 March 1990 I made my concern known about the necessity and importance of good roads and fact integrated rail links within Britain for Irish passenger and freight traffic to the British authorities.
As regards specific access transport options, Deputies will be aware that a consultancy study was recently commissioned by my Department to examine how access links between Ireland, Britain and the Continent of Europe can be improved. This study will also, of course, take account of developments in relation to the Channel Tunnel and the Single Market. The Commission of the European Communities is represented on the steering committee for the study. The situation regarding the possible impact of the Channel Tunnel on Ireland and possible options for improving access transport services will be reviewed in the light of the consultants' report which I expect to be completed in four to six weeks' time.
18. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the current number of applications on hand for road freight carriers licences; the average length of time from receipt of an application to the issue of the licence; and the basis for the statement made in a letter (details supplied) to the effect that he was confident that there would be an improvement in the situation in regard to the delay in the issuing of such licences in the coming months.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): The Deputy will appreciate that the number of applications on hands changes constantly — it is therefore not possible to give exact figures. However, there are approximately 600 applications on hands at the  present time. Of these, about 200 contain all the necessary information and backup documentation; the balance are incomplete or incorrect in some respect.
The time from receipt of an application to the issue of a licence can vary considerably from case to case depending, for example, on the complexity of the application. In general, carriers' licences being issued now were applied for around the end of 1989.
I accept that this delay is far too long — as the Deputy was informed by letter of 7 February 1990, the present backlog has arisen for various reasons, including the switch of many companies from “own account” operations using their own fleets to owner driver based operations, where such vehicle owner driver will carry for reward and thus requires a licence; the high level of incorrect or incomplete applications submitted by hauliers; and the high level of inquiries from applicants.
Steps have already been taken to improve the situation. The staff in the licensing section have been reorganised into more efficient units. Specific staff have been designed to deal with the public, thus freeing their colleagues to get on with the job of processing licence applications. Telephone inquiries in the section have been restricted to public office hours. Incomplete applications are no longer accepted. Additional staff have been authorised to grant licences. These measures have already signficantly improved the situation. Until very recently the number of applications being received exceeded those being granted. This has not been reversed.
Much more importantly, however, regulations are now being prepared which will provide for a significant change from the present time consuming method of processing a licence to a system involving spot checks whereby applicants will submit an affidavit from an accountant or solicitor to the effect that all of the required documentation is in order. These regulations, which I expect to make within the next few months, should bring about a major reduction in the time taken to process a carrier's licence.
 At a recent meeting which I had with the Irish Road Haulage Association, I outlined these planned changes. I suggested to the association representatives that they should organise a seminar for their members at which a senior official from my Department would explain the proposed new system in detail. I am pleased to say that the Irish Road Hauliers Association have acted on my suggestion and the seminar is planned for later this month.
21. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will consider the appointment of an independent, statutorily backed, accident investigation officer for air traffic accidents.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): As is the case in relation to many aviation matters, the general framework and procedures for the investigation of aircraft and air traffic accidents is set by ICAO — the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Under the provisions of the Air Navigation (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations, 1957, I, as Minister, may appoint an inspector of accidents to carry out an investigation into aircraft accidents and incidents. I am also empowered to appoint experts to act as advisers to the inspectors of accidents. There is also provision, in the regulation, for me to direct a competent person to hold a public inquiry into the accident.
The present Irish regulations need to be updated in the light of current requirements of ICAO and, following consultation with the industry and with IALPA in 1989, my Department are actively processing revisions to improve the procedures in relation to accident investigation legislation.
The question of the need for an independent investigation officer under the legislation will be considered in that context.
22. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will discuss with the European Commission the possibility of treating a free roll-on roll-off ferry between Cork and a French port as infrastructure in order that Irish exporters will not be at a disadvantage after 1 January 1993.
23. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if his attention has been drawn to port cost differential and ferry charge differential to exporters from the Twenty-six Counties using the Larne/Stranraer route as against Dublin port; if his attention has further been drawn to the serious disadvantage which this represents to Irish based exporters; his proposals to deal with this; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 23 together.
As I said in response to a similar parliamentary question in November last, it has been recognised for some time that Irish exporters are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their Northern Ireland counterparts in relation to overall transport costs, including port and shipping charges. These and other factors such as frequency and capacity of shipping services and lower costs of Northern Ireland hauliers, have resulted in a loss of traffic to Northern Ireland ports.
The Government are aware that the quality and competitiveness of our access transport services must be improved if we are to take full advantage of the completion of the Single European Market in 1992. In that regard, the current consultancy study into sea and air freight access transport services, which I commissioned earlier this year and which is being carried out in conjunction with the European Commission, will examine, inter alia, existing and proposed shipping services from all our major ports, including Dublin and Cork, and will contain proposals for improving those services. It  will also examine any factors in the Irish transport sector which impose excessive costs on Irish exporters. I expect to receive the consultants' report within four to six weeks, following which discussions will take place on their findings with the European Commission. Pending receipt of the consultants' report, it would be premature for me to speculate about what action should be taken in any particular area.
24. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will outline the extent of activities between Aer Rianta and the Soviet authorities; the value of same to Aer Rianta; the extra jobs which have been created; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): Aer Rianta have a long standing commercial relationship with the Soviet Airline, Aeroflot, which operates air services from the USSR to South America via Shannon Airport.
In 1979 Aer Rianta entered into an agreement with Aeroflot to construct a special aviation fuel storage facility at Shannon which enabled Aeroflot to import Soviet fuel for their aircraft using Shannon Airport. This led in 1983 to a barter arrangement whereby Aer Rianta receive Soviet aviation fuel as payment for airport charges in respect of the Aeroflot aircraft using Shannon Airport. This aviation fuel, as well as fuel purchased from Aeroflot, is sold by Aer Rianta to other airlines at Shannon Airport. These arrangements are of considerable importance for Shannon. Last year, Aer Rianta's revenue from the sale of Soviet aviation fuel amounted to £5.5 million.
In addition Aer Rianta established at Shannon in 1988 a facility for the painting and refurbishing of Aeroflot aircraft. This project has led to the creation of 50 jobs and had a turnover of almost £5 million in 1989.
Aer Rianta's joint venture activities with Aeroflot in the Soviet Union commenced in 1988 with the opening of duty  free shops at Moscow Airport. Since then Aer Rianta's range of activities in the Soviet Union has expanded considerably and extends to: the operation of duty free shops at Leningrad International Airport which opened in mid 1989 — a bar was opened later in the year; the provision of in-flight duty free sales on all Aeroflot international flights out of Moscow; the management and sale of advertising space at Moscow and Leningrad Airports; and the operation of a downtown shopping centre in Leningrad.
I am informed by Aer Rianta that agreement has been reached on similar joint venture projects at other locations in the Soviet Union and a number of these will commence business in 1990. The joint venture projects in the Soviet Union generated turnover of just over £20 million in 1989 and gave rise to the creation of about 120 new jobs for Irish workers at Shannon and in the Soviet Union.
In addition to the direct employment created by all of these activities, there are other positive spin-off employment effects for Irish suppliers of goods and materials and also in the building and design sectors.
27. Mrs. Taylor-Quinn asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will arrange for more direct flights between Shannon and the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, in light of recent developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): On the basis of the liberal arrangements which have been concluded with the UK and with our other EC partners, there are no regulatory constraints on the establishment of direct air services between Shannon Airport and points in the UK and most points in the rest of the Community.
The development of air passenger traffic at Shannon is being actively pursued by Aer Rianta and SFADCo and last March the two organisations jointly  launched a major new initiative called “Shannon Airport Marketing” with the task of increasing the range of scheduled air services serving Shannon airport over the next decade.
I can assure the Deputy that this initiative is being taken with my full support and encouragement.
28. Mr. L. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance when a tax rebate will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, as the tax-payer's estimated income for the current year, 1990-91, is unlikely to exceed the relevant exemption threshold of £3,750, she is entitled to exemption from income tax. As amended certificate of tax free allowances granting exemption was issued to her on 30 April 1990. Any tax deducted from her county council pension since 6 April 1990 is refundable by the council on operation of this certificate.
The inspector of taxes has written to the taxpayer for the details required to carry out a review of her liability for 1989-90. Any tax found to have been overpaid on completion of the review will be refunded to her.
29. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when payment of a milk cessation scheme grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payment of this year's instalment of the premium under the scheme has recently issued to the person named.
30. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when payment of a special beef premium and a calf premium will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1989 special beef premium, calf premium and suckler cow premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
31. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when land (details supplied) in County Tipperary which was purchased by the Land Commission will be sub-divided; the reason for the delay in this allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This estate will be divided shortly.
32. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when an installation grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The grant in this case cannot be paid until the applicant satisfies certain requirements of the Land Registry.
33. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the Government have discussed and finalised Ireland's submission regarding the extension and reclassification of disadvantaged areas; and if this submission has been sent to Brussels.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The Government have discussed these proposals with a view to an early submission to the EC Commission.
34. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Labour the result of his inquiries under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act, 1973, and Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977, regarding a case (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): The case referred to by the Deputy is currently before the Employment Appeals Tribunal, which is an independent statutory body. A hearing of the case will be held later this month.
35. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when investigations will be completed to enable full entitlements in respect of disability benefit contributions in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): At the request of the person concerned investigations were initiated into the insurability of her employment during the period May 1988 to June 1989.
The investigations currently being carried out by a social welfare officer are near completion. However, the results of this investigation will not affect her entitlement to disability benefit which she claimed for the period from 4 September 1989 to 25 December 1989.
Entitlement to disability benefit for the period claimed is based on the 1987-88 contribution year and the person concerned had no contributions paid or credited in that year.
36. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if he will allocate extra gardaí to the various stations in County Kildare with a view to assisting in the fight against crime having regard to increases in population and demands on the gardaí in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Population is one of a number of factors which have to be considered in the allocation of Garda manpower but I do not accept that the level of manpower assigned to any particular area should be directly proportional to the population of that area.
The Garda authorities inform me that the current Garda strength assigned to stations in County Kildare is adequate to meet present policing needs and that manning levels in the county are being kept under continuing review.
37. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for the Environment when a new house grant inspection will take place for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that such inspections are taking five months to complete; his views on whether this practice is acceptable; and the proposals he has to improve the situation; and if an appointment card will be issued to this person prior to the inspection.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): An inspection of the house has now been carried out. Generally speaking, delays of the duration mentioned by the Deputy do not arise though a longer than normal period may occur in particular circumstances. The position is continuously monitored and, where necessary, steps by way of redeploying inspectors etc. are taken to minimise delays.
38. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Health the reason he has failed to issue the circular letter to all the health boards clarifying the respective functions and duties of environmental health officers and veterinary officers in relation to meat inspections consequent to the Abbatoirs Act, 1987; and if and when he will issue this circular.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Discussions are currently being finalised between my Department and the Department of Agriculture and Food in relation to this matter and I would expect that the circular would issue in the near future.
39. Mr. Farrelly asked the Minister for Health when costs of £409,000 incurred by the North Eastern Health Board as a result of the flu epidemic which ocurred in the first quarter of 1990 will be paid to the board.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Last February I acknowledged in this House that the exceptional activity in our acute hospital service in December and January last involved additional cost to health agencies. I further indicated that the cost of the additional activity would be met by my Department in such a way that there would be no intrusion on planned service levels in 1990 and that the overall level of hospital activity would be maintained at the levels obtaining in the latter part of 1989. Discussions with the health agencies, including the North Eastern Health Board, to agree the relevant costs are ongoing.
40. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education if she will classify a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary as disadvantaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The request of the school in question for disadvantaged status is one of a number of requests received from schools throughout the country in this regard.
My Department is at present carrying  out a review of the existing disadvantaged areas funds scheme and all of these applications are being considered in this context.
Accordingly, I am not in a position to make a statement in regard to this specific application at this time.
41. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education the criteria under which a primary school can be classified disadvantaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The selection of schools to benefit from the special measures to assist national schools serving disadvantaged areas has been made hitherto in consultation with the Department's inspectors who are familiar with the particular circumstances of the schools in question. The inspectors submit recommendations to the Department based on the difficulties affecting the schools in question and taking account of the many educational, social and environmental factors relevant to each case.
However, a special working group was set up some time ago to review the criteria for identifying schools in disadvantaged areas.
This group has now submitted a report which is being examined at present. When this work is completed I will be in a position to make a statement on the matter.
42. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education the extent to which psychological assessments are available in national schools throughout the country; the extent to which such service is required in these schools at present; and if she has any proposals to improve the degree of psychological assessments available to national schools; and if she will make a statment on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Where authorities of individual national schools consider that a pupil  requires psychological assessment the matter is referred to the local director of community care of the appropriate health board. It is then for the director of community care to make arrangements for such an assessment to be carried out.
As the Deputy is aware, I have initiated pilot projects on the establishment of a psychological service for primary schools. These projects will operate in two areas of the country, one of which is located in an urban area and one in a mainly rural area. Experience of these projects should provide improved information on needs in relation to psychological assessment.
43. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if any funds are available in 1990 for an extension of facilities at Meánscoil Iognáid Rís, Naas, County Kildare; the full extent of proposed facilities; if current proposals will meet population requirements; if it is intended to provide these facilities when required; if they will be provided in the current or next terms; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The capital provision for school building is made on a global basis and no specific amounts are allocated for individual projects. As indicated in my reply to a previous question on 6 March 1990 the proposed extension to Meánscoil Iognáid Rís, Naas is being reviewed in the context of demographic trends affecting pupil enrolments in both the short term and long term. This review has yet to be completed and, therefore, I am not in a position to indicate the nature of the provision which will be made or when construction will commence.
44. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the steps which have been taken since the Mayo train derailment of 1989 to improve safety at rail-crossings; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. Brennan): The Board of Inquiry appointed by Iarnród Éireann in connection with the passenger train derailment near Claremorris, County Mayo, on 24 September 1989 has been examining the possibilities of eliminating and reducing hazards in the operation of accommodation level crossings.
I have been informed by CIE that the board's review of this matter is nearing completion and I expect to receive proposals from the company shortly in relation to additional measures or changes in existing procedures that may need to be implemented to improve safety at rail crossings.
In the meantime, Iarnród Éireann have at my request contacted the main farming organisations regarding the safe use of accommodation crossings by farmers. In addition all known users of such crossings have been visited by railway personnel and instructed on the safe and proper use of the crossings. A media campaign has also been launched and advertisements have appeared in the farming press and at marts and there has been a series of spot radio advertisements.
Finally, a national liaison committee consisting of representatives of Iarnród Éireann and the farming organisations has been established to discuss safety-related matters. Arising from this, regional committees representative of the company's local management and local farming interests have been established to ensure improved safety standards and procedures.