Thursday, 23 February 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
22. Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if his preparatory work for the Intergovernmental Conference will be geared towards the implementation of the Maastricht Agreement in full and without reservations. [4092/95]
27. Miss Quill asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the arrangements, if any, that are being made for the holding of the Intergovernmental Conference in Ireland in 1996; and the likely agenda for that Conference. [4153/95]
The Treaty on European Union provides for the convening of an Intergovernmental Conference of the member states in 1996 to examine those Treaty provisions for which explicit provision is made for a review.
The agenda for the Intergovernmental Conference will therefore include the Maastricht Treaty provisions on the common foreign and security policy, the decision-making powers of the European Parliament, the Union's legislative procedures and the structure of the Treaty.
The Brussels European Council in December 1993 and the informal Foreign Ministers meeting in April 1994  added to the agenda of the Intergovernmental Conference the weighting of the votes of the member states in the Council, the number of members of the Commission and any measures deemed necessary to facilitate the work of the institutions of the Union and guarantee their effective operation in the perspective of future enlargement.
The European Council meeting in Corfu in June 1994 agreed to establish a reflection group of personal representatives of Foreign Ministers and of the President of the Commission to prepare the agenda of the Intergovernmental Conference. The reflection group which will also include two representatives of the European Parliament will begin meeting in June under a Spanish chairperson.It is expected to report to the Madrid European Council in December.
The preparatory work for the Intergovernmental Conference, at this stage, is very much focused on the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty. The European Council requested the Council the Commission and the European Parliament to establish separate reports on the functioning of the treaty. These reports will serve as inputs to the work of the reflection group.
The preparation of the Council's report on the functioning of the treaty has begun under the current French Presidency of the EU and will be completed before June 1995. The Council has agreed that its report should be factual and consensual in nature.
The Intergovernmental Conference is expected to open in the first half of 1996 under the Italian Presidency of the EU.  It will continue in the second half of 1996 when Ireland will hold the Presidency.The chairing of the Intergovernmental Conference will be one of our key Presidency priorities. No deadline has been set for the completion of the work of the Intergovernmental Conference.
Preparatory work on the Irish negotiating position at the Intergovernmental Conference is under way. The Government will ensure that Ireland makes a constructive and imaginative contribution to the work of the Intergovernmental Conference. In this context it is important that we have a detailed understanding of our partners' positions on the key issues and that they are aware of our concerns. In recent weeks, for example, I have had discussions with the Spanish and French Foreign Ministers while Minister of State, Deputy Mitchell, has met his Belgian and German counterparts. There are also continuing contacts on the Intergovernmental Conference with our partners at official level. Over the coming months these ministerial and official level contacts will be intensified with a view to developing our negotiating position on the wide range of issues likely to arise at the Intergovernmental Conference.
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