Tuesday, 15 June 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: I attended the European Council in Cologne on 3 and 4 June, together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy McCreevy. This was the fourth time that EU Leaders had met during the German Presidency. Following the conclusion of the Agenda 2000 negotiations in Berlin in March, this meeting afforded leaders the opportunity to concentrate on issues of future concern to the Union. In that respect we reached agreement on a number of matters which I am confident will have far-reaching benefits for the Union. Clearly, however, in addition to these issues the Summit concentrated on the resolution of the situation in Kosovo.
I would like to begin by outlining the format of the Council. It began on 3 June, with a meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Gils Robles, where there was a useful exchange of views on the important role which the European Parliament will now be playing given its extended powers under the Amsterdam Treaty. A detailed discussion on European Security and Defence Policy formed the bulk of the first working session which followed. The Common Strategy for Russia, Reform of the Commission, East Timor and relations with Turkey and Ukraine were also discussed.
Issues such as the European Employment Pact, Institutional Reform and the next Intergovernmental Conference and the proposed Charter of Fundamental Rights were examined on Thursday afternoon. The Council was joined that evening by the Finnish President Athisaari following his peace talks, along with Mr. Chernomyrdin, with President Milosevic in Belgrade. Discussion then focused on Kosovo and the Balkan region. On Friday morning, as is usual, leaders focused on the draft Council conclusions.
As expected, a major part of discussion at the European Council focused on the situation in Kosovo, in particular, the progress which was taking place while the summit was in session towards agreement by the Yugoslav authorities of the latest peace plan. Throughout this continuing crisis,  the EU has played a very important and crucial role in the search for peace. This is reflected in the Declaration on Kosovo agreed by the leaders at Cologne. The Declaration endorsed the details of the peace plan and reinforced the need for a verifiable withdrawal of all Yugoslav forces from Kosovo as the first stage to achieving a political settlement. In addition, the Declaration highlighted the urgent need for the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on this matter. This is the approach which had been advocated by Ireland and which has now successfully been put into place with the adoption by the Security Council of its resolution last Thursday. This could not have been achieved without the co-operation of Russia and China. Of course, continued co-operation from all concerned on the ground will be essential for the achievement of long-term peace. It is particularly heartening to reflect however that a small country, such as Finland, which is not a member of an alliance, made such a valuablev contribution to this process; and it is a pointer to the continuing role that such countries can play in the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. It underlines the very positive contribution to European peace and stability which neutral and non-allied states can make.
In addition, while the search for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Kosovo was and remains of paramount importance, the Council also considered the equally important issues of the position of the Kosovar refugees and the reconstruction of Kosovo and the wider Balkans region. In this respect, the meeting reaffirmed the willingness of the European Union to continue to do its utmost to support the countries of the Western Balkan region and humanitarian aid organisations in fulfilling their important humanitarian mission. As far as Ireland is concerned, we will make a full contribution, both to the longer-term peace-keeping that may be required and to reconstruction.
As regards the reconstruction of Kosovo, I view as a very positive step, the Council's indication of the European Union's willingness to head any transitional administration that will need to be established in the framework of the political solution. In particular, on the issue of reconstruction assistance, the Council invited the European Commission to bring forward proposals before the end of this month aimed at creating an agency to be charged with implementation of community reconstruction programmes. It is hoped that the agency can become operational before the end of the summer. I believe this is the very latest date that the agency should be operational and we will push for its earliest possible establishment.
On the issue of the reconstruction of the wider region, the European Council endorsed the progress made towards the Stability Pact for south-eastern Europe. The text of the pact was agreed by all participants at the special ministerial conference last Thursday. The aim of the Stability  Pact will be to enhance peace, stability and prosperity in the countries of the region, and perhaps more importantly, co-operation between those countries and peoples. The first step in this process will be the organisation of a donors conference for south-eastern Europe.
The participation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the pact will be possible following the political settlement of the conflict in Kosovo and taking into account the need for respect by all participants for the principles and objectives of the pact. The European Council also made a very significant gesture towards the countries of the region by indicating that they would be offered the prospect of full integration into the structures of the European Union perhaps through some new form of association, provided they meet the accession criteria.
I was disappointed that UEFA refused to withdraw sanction for the match and ultimately placed the Government in a position whereby the withdrawal of visas for players was the only option available to us. I was very encouraged that the German Chancellor, Herr Schröder, telephoned UEFA to confirm the EU position in connection with sports events with Yugoslavia on the evening prior to the summit. The approach adopted by Ireland towards this match was further endorsed by the European Council. The Council confirmed the position of the European Union in connection with sports events with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and undertook to re-examine this matter after a UN security resolution was adopted.
The conflict in Kosovo has once again demonstrated the political imperative for the development of closer ties between the European Union and its neighbours. In this respect, an important development at the Council was the adoption of the Common Strategy for Russia, the first such common strategy to be adopted under the Amsterdam Treaty. A shared concern amongst many partners was the need for the common strategy to represent real added value to existing Union instruments with regard to Russia. Accordingly, the areas of action of the common strategy will include measures to consolidate democracy and strengthen the rule of law and public institutions in Russia; the integration of Russia into the European and world economy; co-operation to strengthen stability and security in Europe; and, importantly, co-operation concerning energy, nuclear safety, environment, health and the fight against crime and drugs.
The adoption of the common strategy is timely, as it enables the EU to play its part in supporting the forces of democracy and economic reform at this politically fragile time in Russia. I also make the point that, in spite of the recent political upheaval in Russia, it is most significant that the changes were achieved entirely within the constitutional process. This reflects a developing politi cal maturity and a consolidation of democracy, although clearly significant problems remain. As regards Ukraine, I support very strongly the need to do everything possible to effect the decommissioning of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant next year.
I know from my contacts with them that some of the enlargement countries are concerned that the Union's concentration on their accession efforts has been lessened due to the Agenda 2000 negotiations in the earlier part of the year and the subsequent situation in Kosovo. In this respect, it was important that the European Council took the opportunity to reflect on the accession negotiations with the candidate countries. What was required by these countries was a reiteration by the Council that the European Union remains positively committed to the enlargement process. In the event, a positive message was sent to these countries. While the Council noted that negotiations were continuing to progress well with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus, it was significant that a commitment was given to open negotiations in all remaining areas covered by the aquis as early as possible next year.
The Helsinki European Council in December will examine the progress made by the accession candidates. It is crucial that the momentum towards enlargement be maintained for stability in Europe. In this respect, it is important not to discourage the other applicants: Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Malta with whom formal negotiations are not yet under way but who are engaged in the screening process. I was encouraged that the Council asked that the next progress report from the Commission outline the prospects for opening negotiations with these countries. I hope that developments in the interim will make it possible to adopt a more positive approach towards Turkey at that time.
An issue of key interest to Ireland at the Council was the Declaration on Strengthening the Common European Policy on Security and Defence. This is a matter to which the Minister Deputy Andrews will return in more detail in his concluding remarks.
I take this opportunity to compliment the Minister on his very active involvement in this issue at the General Affairs Council – ensuring that the outcome was acceptable to Ireland and our fellow neutral partners.
The declaration agreed at Cologne reflects a common analysis among EU member states of the objectives we seek on the basis of the Amsterdam Treaty and how best to achieve these. The Finnish Presidency was invited by the European Council to take the matter forward and submit a progress report to the Helsinki European Council.
The Irish position on this matter has been and will continue to be that the European Union must be able to work for peace, stability and security in Europe. The key to this is peacekeeping and  crisis management within the context of the Petersberg Tasks. All 15 member states can play an active role which is in keeping with their own traditions and capabilities. The declaration on this issue takes account of the views and positions of all four non-NATO EU member states. Indeed, we maintained very close contact with the other non-NATO member states during the drafting of the declaration to ensure that our views would be reflected.
It is agreed within the EU that individual countries have the right to participate or not participate in a particular mission. There is not a commitment to mutual defence in the Cologne conclusions, and this is consistent with Ireland's traditional approach.
In view of these developments, which were anticipated, it is important that we should now proceed with participation in Partnership for Peace, which has been debated in the run-up to the European elections, so we are on an equal footing with the other non-NATO countries within the Union. Participation in Partnership for Peace will ensure that we can be fully involved in European peacekeeping tasks, including their preparation and planning, where NATO has been given the leading role.
The summit discussed the scope, preparations and timetable for the next Intergovernmental Conference – Intergovernmental Conference. In this context, the Council agreed to convene an Intergovernmental Conference early in 2000 to resolve the institutional issues left over from Amsterdam that need to be settled before enlargement begins. The process is scheduled to conclude by the end of next year. It was agreed that it would cover the following issues: the size and composition of the Commission; the weighting of votes in the Council; the possible extension of qualified majority voting – QMV – in the Council; and other closely related issues could also be discussed.
To take this matter forward, the Finnish Presidency will now draw up a report for the Helsinki Summit setting out options in regard to the issues that might be addressed in the next Intergovernmental Conference. Our preference has been and still is that the Intergovernmental Conference should not be too ambitious. We do not support any broad examination of extending QMV. However, the overall agreement reached on the approach to the Intergovernmental Conference is broadly acceptable to us.
I pointed out during our discussion of this item, that while QMV might aid efficiency, it did not guarantee equity as demonstrated by the proposals before the Fisheries Council last week which, as things stood, could have commanded a qualified majority for approval.
I am pleased to note, however, that, due to  tough negotiating by the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Woods, the proposals finally adopted allow Ireland a catch of 24,000 tonnes per annum. I record my thanks to the Minister.
A particular issue on which the German Presidency has placed a strong emphasis is the proposed EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The aim of the charter is to highlight the importance of protecting the fundamental rights of the Union's citizens. The European Council agreed to take this issue forward by establishing a body of representatives of the Heads of State and Governments, the President of the Commission, and also members of the European Parliament and national parliaments to examine this matter. The proposed approach to progress will be outlined at the extraordinary meeting of the European Council in Tampere on 15 and 16 October this year. The overall aim is to present a charter for adoption at the European Council in December 2000 during the French Presidency of the Union. As regards the status of the charter, once it is finalised, I believe that in the medium term it should be a political declaration enabling the Union to re-affirm its human rights obligations to its citizens. The charter should not, for the foreseeable future, be integrated into the Treaties of the Union, given the very many other institutional issues which need to be addressed before enlargement and the many protections which the Treaties and UN and other conventions bestow on the Union's citizens.
I will attend a special meeting of the European Council on 15 and 16 October in Tampere, Finland. The Council will evaluate progress achieved and give further direction to the actions of the EU in the areas of justice and home affairs. The special meeting will provide an opportunity to show citizens that EU co-operation can addresses issues of real day to day concern to them, such as the fight against crime and drugs. I hope to see progress at the special European Council on EU co-operation in combating organised crime. The Council will also provide an important opportunity to take stock of the situation following the significant institutional changes introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam in the areas of justice and home affairs.
The summit was also attended by Commission President-Designate Prodi, who discussed with the HOSG the future work and required reforms of the Commission. Mr. Prodi outlined his views on Commissioners and portfolios; on an increased role for the President's spokesperson; and on reform of the Commission services. As regards the composition of the Commission portfolios, he indicated that each portfolio in the new Commission will carry with it a significant area of work. As the House will generally be aware, Mr. Prodi hopes to finalise his list of future Commissioners by mid-July. He plans to finalise portfolios first and then to offer each Commissioner a specific portfolio. Mr. Prodi has proposed that each member of the future Commission will be  asked to accept that they will resign should the President feel obliged to ask them to do so. Through this undertaking, the individual accountability of each Commissioner will be guaranteed, while at the same time maintaining the collective responsibility of the Commission college.
On the specific issue of reform of the Commission Services, Mr. Prodi intends to clarify the roles of Cabinets and Commission Services. In this way he hopes to facilitate a better balance between the Cabinets and the services. In order to achieve an enhanced interface, Commissioners and their Cabinets will in future be housed in the same building as the relevant Commission Services. In addition, Mr. Prodi intends to allow for greater internal mobility of senior officials in the Commission in the future.
Ireland strongly supports the reforms necessary for the modernisation and improvement of the Commission's organisation, management and financial control. However, the Commission is and must remain the engine of the Union. It must be properly resourced for those tasks it has already been assigned and for any new tasks it is asked to undertake. The Commission's central role in balancing the interests of member states, especially large and small member states, should not be diminished.
The promotion of economic growth and the creation of jobs at EU level remains a particular priority for all member states. In this context, the summit agreed on the European Employment Pact. The pact is concerned with developing a new macro-economic dialogue between the social partners, fiscal and employment policy makers, and monetary policy makers. In order to achieve this goal, the pact provides for twice yearly meetings between the relevant Ministers – Finance and Social Affairs – the social partners, and the European Central Bank.
The pact takes account of three objectives in order to promote a strong non-inflationary and job creating growth: greater co-ordination between wage developments, fiscal policy and monetary policy; enhanced implementation of the employment strategy agreed at Luxembourg; and improvements in the competitiveness and functioning of the markets for goods, services and capital in accordance with the Cardiff process.
While the European Council Conclusions do not of themselves create jobs, the pact is to be welcomed from an Irish point of view. Indeed, most of the goals which it sets are already underpinning the ongoing economic and social policy objectives pursued in this country, especially in the context of social partnership. I am very supportive of the more important role outlined for social partners at EU level. This should ensure maximum consensus about what needs to be done and how we should go about doing it.
In terms of job creation at an EU level, there is a continuing need to examine the approaches adopted by those countries with which the Union competes. In this respect, the EU needs to ensure  a job creation structure that is flexible and avoids excessive regulation.
I was pleased the meeting took the opportunity to recognise that the jobs of the future will be created by innovation and active involvement in the information society. In particular, leaders called for all schools to be given access to the lnternet as soon as possible and for improved policy co-ordination to ensure the creation of a favourable environment to develop Europe's leading position in e-commerce. This approach is to be welcomed and I am confident that we in Ireland will continue to make progress towards achieving these aims. I took the opportunity at the summit to highlight the gap between Europe and the United States, especially in terms of preparedness for the information society.
I look forward to participating in the Special European Council on Employment, Economic Reform, and Social Cohesion which is taking place in Lisbon next March. The European Council also considered the broad guidelines for economic policies in the member states and recommended their adoption to ECOFIN. The guidelines identify a co-ordinated mix of macroeconomic policies in the context of the stability and growth pact, and wide-ranging liberalisation of product, capital and labour markets as key elements to boost competitiveness so as to increase economic and employment growth.
The Council also noted the second report from ECOFIN on tax policy co-operation, which sets out progress on tax issues such as the code of conduct on business tax and invited a third report bringing the discussions on these tax issues to a conclusion for Helsinki. Energy tax is one of the issues covered in the ECOFIN report. Ireland has not been supporting Commission proposals for higher taxes on energy because of the possible effects on competitiveness and price stability. We will, however, need to consider what measures are required in order to achieve the commitments on emissions which we undertook at Kyoto.
The issue of the continuation of the current duty free regime beyond the end of June was again discussed by leaders at the summit. Unfortunately, the outcome was very disappointing, despite the support of the larger EU countries. Once again I took the opportunity to strongly support the extension of the duty free regime and drew attention to the difficulties which would be caused by the decision to bring it to an end. I joined with France, Germany and the UK in this regard. However, our efforts to secure an extension of the current regime met with resistance from other member states, especially Denmark. As the House will be aware, a decision to reverse abolition would have required unanimity.
I met with Prime Minister Blair on the evening of Wednesday, 2 June in Cologne. In addition to matters related to Northern Ireland, we discussed many of the issues on the agenda for the Council, including aspects of the Kosovo situation and duty free.
 In preparation for the Cologne Council and to co-ordinate EU business more generally, I established a Cabinet committee which I also chair. Its core members are the Tánaiste, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In addition, the Attorney General and other Ministers attend, as appropriate, on particular issues. This forum will allow for the required focus to be given to the important issues which are arising on the EU agenda. Its first meeting took place in preparation for the summit. A preparatory meeting of officials, chaired by my Department, was also held in advance of the Cabinet committee's meeting. My Department maintains close contact with all relevant Departments on key EU related matters. I also met with officials to pursue particular issues on the Cologne agenda in detail.
I would like to once again commend the German Presidency for hosting a very successful summit and more generally on the success of its Presidency. The past six months have seen advances on many key items on the EU's agenda such as agreement on the Agenda 2000 package and also on the next Intergovernmental Conference.
In advance of the German Presidency some commentators had questioned the ability of what was at the time a relatively new administration, and in addition one which had no direct experience of handling a Presidency, to advance and reach agreement on the issues on the EU agenda. The progress which we have seen across the range of issues has certainly refuted those suggestions. In particular, the Kosovo crisis called for an immediate response from the Union and the German Presidency successfully guided the Union's contribution while maintaining a consensus on the approach among all partners, a not inconsiderable task. The role of Finnish President Ahtisaari and the incoming Presidency were also highly commendable.
Mr. J. Bruton: The state of public opinion in Ireland has moved from one of euro enthusiasm, while the money was coming in, to euro doubt, now that we are on the way to becoming net contributors. We should be very worried about this because euro doubt is an attitude that will weaken our influence in Europe and prevent us from being as effective as we ought to be. That there was a low turn-out in the European elections is a cause for concern, and it would have been much lower if the local elections were not taking place on the same day.
It is important to understand why euro doubt is growing. I believe it is growing because people see no connection between the way they vote in a European election and what happens in Europe in the subsequent five years. Obviously in a Dáil election or even in a county council election people see a connection between the way they vote and what happens subsequently. If they vote for a party and it is able to form a coalition, that party becomes the Government in place of whatever party was in Government before a Dáil election, but the way people vote in a European elec tion seems to change nothing. The problem is not that we do not have democracy in Europe because all the people who make the key decisions in Europe are elected by somebody, but there is no connection between what people vote for and what happens. Probably the most eloquent demonstration of this will be found in the composition of the new Commission.
We will have a Commission composed predominantly of socialists, even though the people of Europe, in the European elections last weekend, voted in a majority for non-socialist parties. There is nothing wrong with that in one sense because it is democratic. The reason we will have a Commission composed of socialists is that when people voted in national elections they voted for socialists but when they voted in European elections they did not vote for socialists. The election that should have influenced the composition of the European Executive, that is, the European election, does not influence it whereas the elections that were designed for some entirely different purpose, forming a national Government, do influence it. I do not make that point because I am vice-president of the European People's Party, which is now the largest party in the Parliament – the boot could easily be on the other foot. I make the point because there is a lack of synergy in the way the Commission is selected.
I have long believed that the Commission should be elected by the Parliament from among the majority in the Parliament in the same way as the Government of Ireland is elected from among the majority in the Dáil after a general election. In that way there would be a direct connection between what happens in Europe, what initiatives are put forward in Europe and what way people vote. That would get rid of euro doubt because people would feel they are participants in European decision making directly in the same way as they are participants in national decision making through Dáil elections. There will be a problem as long as there exists dissonance between the way people vote in European elections and who forms the government of Europe. This problem probably will be brought to a head quickly because I do not foresee an easy passage for the Prodi Commission in the parliament given the background of the dismissal of the Santer Commission. The time is rapidly approaching when the institutional changes will be made in Europe to allow the parliament to select the European Commission, but to give the President of the Commission the same right to dissolve the parliament and call an election as the Taoiseach enjoys in Ireland to ensure that the parliament does not go beyond its remit.
Regarding defence, the Taoiseach complimented the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his success in ensuring that the outcome was acceptable to Ireland and our fellow neutral partners. What is the Taoiseach's definition of neutral? How does he establish Ireland's neutrality, bear ing in mind that he agreed to the following statement in the European Council declaration?
We are convinced that to fully assume its tasks in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management, the European Union must have at its disposal the appropriate capabilities and instruments. We, therefore, commit ourselves to further develop more effective European military capabilities.
We welcome the results of the NATO Washington summit as regards NATO support for the process launched by the EU and its confirmation that a more effective role for the European Union in conflict prevention and crisis management will contribute to the vitality of a renewed alliance.
I do not believe that agreeing to those statements means that Ireland continues to be politically neutral. It is dishonest to state that Ireland is politically neutral when we agreed to those statements. The Government has a problem because it is pretending to pursue one policy when it is pursuing another. Common European defence is necessary and morally right. However, I do not believe it is morally right that issues concerning the defence of Europe should be made by NATO generals. The problem with NATO is that it is a military rather than a political organisation.
The selection of targets during the recent war against Yugoslavia was not made by politicians but by air force commanders who did not even consult the generals. For example, the air force commanders decided to knock out the entire central heating system of Belgrade. This means that perhaps thousands of people will freeze to death in Belgrade next winter. This was a decision with political ramifications but no politician in Europe was consulted about the decision to destroy the heating system in Belgrade, an objective which had no military value whatsoever unless it was expected that the war would continue until next  winter and NATO would freeze the Yugoslavs into submission.
The central heating system is of no relevance until next November so why did NATO make that decision? I do not know the answer, and I do not believe that generals or air force commanders are the right people to make that type of decision. European politicians should make decisions of that nature. The only way that can happen is if European politicians are willing to have a common defence policy. As long as there is no common defence policy, NATO generals and air force commanders will make those decisions and that is morally wrong.
We have been able to pursue the notion – it is a notion rather than an actuality – of neutrality because Ireland is an island and Britain defends the two islands for its own strategic reasons. It would not want Ireland to be taken over by a hostile power. Another factor is that Ireland is more difficult to attack because it is an island. However, modern weaponry does not respect short spaces of sea. NATO showed what it could do in Yugoslavia although there was no NATO country anywhere near it. The nearest NATO country was Italy and yet it almost destroyed Yugoslavia. The idea that a country can do without defence just because it is an island is not realistic in terms of modern warfare.
The Taoiseach's argument for neutrality hinges on the following phrase contained in the declaration: “The policy of the Union shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states.” I already asked the Taoiseach to outline his definition of neutral, given the statements to which he agreed. The other issue is his interpretation of the word “prejudice”. In my view, prejudice means “prejudge”. It does not mean that we will keep the same character forever or that our security and defence policy will not change. It means that no decision prejudges the decision we might make. If that is what it means, it should be stated.
The Taoiseach should say that there is the possibility that our security and defence policy could change, but it is not prejudiced. However, sometimes that sentence is presented as if it meant that there never will be any change in our policy and Ireland will always be neutral. If that is the meaning which is attempted to be attached to it, it is dishonest because it is not sustainable. We are dealing with a very intelligent electorate and it is much better to be honest and upfront about what we are doing. Before the general election the Fianna Fáil Party said it would hold a referendum on the Partnership for Peace but, after it took office, it said that there would not be a referendum and the European election would in some way act as a surrogate referendum. However, the European election had nothing to do with the Partnership for Peace. This is the type of dishonesty and evasion which brings politics into disrepute.
I agree with what the Taoiseach was trying to  achieve. I agree Ireland should join the Partnership for Peace. However, we should be upfront about it. I do not believe the Partnership for Peace involves military commitment of any kind and, therefore, that a referendum is necessary or justified. However, we should participate in European defence and when we decide to do so, a referendum should then be held. The type of prevarication and fudge we have had on this issue is not helpful. If we are honest with people about this matter, they will come on board and accept it is unrealistic to cut ourselves off and for Ireland to be the only neutral country in a union where all the other members are committed to a common defence policy.
The EU did not state that humanitarian aid would only be given to Yugoslavia if its people got rid of President Milosevic; that was said by Mr. Blair and Mr. Clinton. If NATO, Britain and the US are going to decide who should be the President of another country, as a condition for repairing damage they have done, that effectively abolishes the sovereignty of Yugoslavia. If it is to be decided in Washington who should or should not be the Yugoslav President, it means the end of the sovereignty of individual states.
It is said that the war in Yugoslavia was the first humanitarian war. That is a fine phrase but it means the sovereignty of states is being set aside for a humanitarian purpose. The problem is that we are entering into an area of great uncertainty. Once we move away from the certainty of the sovereignty of states, and the acceptance that one does not interfere in another state without a UN resolution to that effect, we enter uncharted territory. There are no norms or precedents as to what justifies a humanitarian war in one circumstance and not in another.
One of the most important elements in avoiding war is certainty about the likely behaviour of one's opponents; most wars are caused by miscalculation of the intentions of others. At least in the past, where war was concerned, there was respect for the sovereignty of nations and where that was breached, there was a declaration of war. In the case of Yugoslavia, the sovereignty of nations was set aside without a UN resolution and there was no declaration of war. We are now in an extremely grey area as to the circumstances in which war will and will not be waged. War was not waged over East Timor but it was waged over Kosovo. It is important that clear rules are established quickly to govern humanitarian wars, which appear to be the pattern for the future.
It is also important to be honest about what happened. This war was launched to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe yet it is fair to say that  it led to one. It is not easy to say that because “Slobbo”, to use The Sun's sophisticated political description, is a deplorable person. The result of the humanitarian war was 1.2 million refugees and will be people freezing to death in Belgrade, a huge reconstruction task in Yugoslavia and NATO troops in Kosovo probably for as long as UN troops have been in Cyprus – I do not expect to see troops out of Kosovo this side of 2030. That is a huge commitment.
It is also clear that the KLA will not disarm. The war started as NATO versus the Serbs and the alliance will probably have to confront the KLA next. The next conflict will involve NATO troops being used to bring Serbs back into Kosovo to preserve the idea that Yugoslav sovereignty is not being abolished. NATO, which will be making these decisions, has no political leadership. We need European defence arrangements soon so that we can have political direction, rather than have Americans and generals deciding peace and war in Europe. I have great admiration for Americans but they are too far away to make these decisions. I hope the House will come around to accepting European defence.
Mr. J. Bruton: I understand that. I welcome the declaration on Third World debt. Multinational companies should contribute to reducing the debt of the poorest countries. The biggest multinational companies are bigger than medium-sized states and it is wrong that Governments alone should have to contribute.
There is too much British induced criticism of the euro. The currency is working quite well. The conjunction of the euro and the Internet – that is, a single currency across Europe and the possibility of electronic commerce – could not have been more felicitous for developing competition in Europe. However, I regret that the declaration on employment makes no reference to competitiveness. One cannot create jobs unless they are competitive and this declaration was one-sided, with emphasis on targets for job creation and nothing about competitiveness. Finally, we should have a European criminal assets bureau.
Mr. Quinn: The Cologne summit, although not touted as such in advance, will probably be remembered as one of the most significant in recent history. The backdrop of the ongoing war in Kosovo proved a stimulant to the EU to significantly advance co-operation between member  states in the development of a common EU foreign policy and defence position. I have stated elsewhere the Labour Party's view that we need to engage fully in this debate. It does not mean a change in our traditional values but it could have considerable implications for how we choose to pursue them.
The European Union's political clout has always fallen short of the economic burden it bears. This scenario is likely to repeated again in the case of Kosovo where, despite being party to the military campaign that has left Kosovo and Yugoslavia in ruins, the United States is refusing to invest in the regeneration of the region. The EU has an unparalleled record in defusing national tensions between countries by fostering political and economic co-operation, a record others could learn from and which the EU should promulgate.
The ending of the armed conflict over Kosovo has been a matter of great relief to people all over Europe. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the German Presidency and the EU envoy, Finnish President, Maarti Ahtisaari, for the enormous skill and diplomacy he showed in helping to broker an agreement. There is also a political lesson to be drawn from the active role played by the Finns, namely, that being outside military blocs does not mean one has no role to play. Like Ireland, Finland is a militarily neutral country and is not a member of NATO but, unlike Ireland, Finland declined to be simply a spectator at the biggest military conflict Europe has seen since the end of World War II and was determined to play an active role in bringing the war to an end. There is no reason Ireland could not have played a similarly active role in trying to find a solution.
The agreement brokered by President Ahtisaari was a remarkable achievement but the situation remains fraught. The presence within Kosovo of troops from both NATO and Russia presents its own problems, which could deteriorate into conflict unless restraint and good judgment is shown by all sides. The reports this morning that the Russian military establishment is acting independently of the Foreign Ministry are a particular cause for concern.
The withdrawal of Serbian forces is well under way and must be completed as early as possible but there are likely to be other problems. Returning Kosovar Albanians will be understandably angry and bitter at the treatment they received, particularly in light of the emerging evidence of mass graves, but Serbs who remained in Kosovo must be protected from revenge attacks. This is a crucial point. Ethnic cleansing replaced by ethnic cleansing is a further defeat for civilisation and decent values. KFOR must play an active role in protecting these people from indiscriminate attacks. Priority must now be given to creating the conditions which will allow those driven from Kosovo to return to their homes at the earliest possible date. This will require not just the early withdrawal of Serbian forces but a  massive programme of reconstruction to restore housing and infrastructure after more than two months of bombing and fighting. The EU will have to play a major role in the process of reconstruction in Kosovo and Serbia, and Ireland should be willing to make a major contribution to the reconstruction effort. As I said, Europe should, however, seek influence commensurate with its financial support and in this case seek to maximise both. The Government appears to have adopted the position that Ireland's involvement in the developing common foreign and security policy should go no further than it laid out in the Amsterdam Treaty, a position with which I agree. It is critically important that Irish Governments adhere absolutely to the nature of the explicit mandates given to them by the Irish people when they accept EU treaty reform in referenda. Governments, however, have an obligation to lead debates as well. What has happened in Kosovo and the Balkans in the past decade should shake the complacency that 50 years of peace in Europe has generated. Europeans – I mean Europeans – remain capable of the same acts of barbarity committed 50 years ago. Security and peace enforcement remain crucial issues out of which Ireland should not opt.
This Government's refusal to express its hopes and aspirations about Europe's future development and its view that its only role in Europe is to defend Irish economic interests are absolutely clear by now. This view, adopted by most previous Irish Governments, with the exception of the rainbow coalition, is an anachronism and represents selling Ireland and its people short.
Mr. Quinn: The rainbow Government led the debate for the inclusion in the Amsterdam Treaty of chapters on social inclusion and employment, yet these chapters are of a limited nature and need to be developed. There appears to be little chance, however, that a party like Fianna Fáil, which agrees with a statement that “creating jobs is largely a matter for business; Government and the EU must get off their backs” is likely to lead the debate on this issue either.
Europe is changing. There should be no doubt that the change in direction agreed at Amsterdam is as significant in identifying who will be part of the inner circle in Europe as prospective membership of the single currency was five years ago, and it appears the Government has hardly a view on this issue. In the run-up to the European elections, I called for the debate on the next tranche of treaty reform to be broadened far beyond the issue of enlargement. I argued that unless Europe had the capacity to assist member states on issues which directly affected the people, it would continue to be perceived as remote and to some extent irrelevant. The Integra programme which assists drug addicts in returning to employment is a classic example of Europe leading the way in  an approach to the drugs problem that is long overdue here.
For too long Europe's citizens have been treated as economic agents, mere cogs in the creation of a single market, rather than citizens in the proper sense of the word. I argued too that greater democratic accountability of the European Commission to the Parliament and other democratic changes agreed at Amsterdam must represent only the start and not the end of that process.
On these matters, as on others, the Government is silent. Europe is evolving and our Government effectively acts as a bystander. If the Government is interested in taking part in the debate about Ireland's role in the CFSP or if it is interested at any stage in seeking to influence the evolution of such a policy, it has got off to a bad start. The appointment of Javier Solana, the Secretary General of NATO, as the co-ordinator of the Common Foreign and Security Policy or “Mr. CFSP”, as he is called, is a mistake and even conflicts with the stated intent of the St Malo and Toulouse declarations. The development of an independent foreign policy position and possibly military capacity for the EU means being independent of NATO if it is to mean anything at all. The appointment of the current Secretary General of NATO to the CFSP position is almost defeating the point.
My support for Ireland's greater involvement in developing a European common foreign and security policy is conditional. I want it to reflect the best of the European experience in the past 50 years, not the divisiveness of the Cold War. I remain opposed to the arms trade and dependence on nuclear weapons, but I am also a realist. Ireland works with NATO countries regularly within the EU and our troops serve with theirs as members of SFOR in Bosnia. Unlike others, I am prepared to engage and debate and not to seek splendid isolation. I argued at a meeting of socialist leaders on the eve of the summit against the immediate appointment of Mr. Solana and received some support for my position from other traditionally non-aligned nations. There was an indication too that even NATO member states accepted the point I was making but that urgency was the essence and that Mr. Solana was the only candidate available.
I expected, however, that the Government might raise the same issue at the summit proper, but it appears the Government accepted his appointment without saying a word. Perhaps the Minister for Foreign Affairs can put on the record the Government's position on this matter. Unfortunately, as I have already stated, this acquiescence is typical of a Government that seems to believe Europe's evolution is something at which it is a spectator rather than an active participant.
We can no longer stand disengaged in the face of what has taken place in the Balkans in the past ten years. Neither will we be able to pretend the insecurity in Russia or its former republics have  no implications for us. It is this insecurity, and the fear it generates in eastern Europe in particular, that is driving countries like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania into NATO.
Our responsibility, and that of Europe, is a moral one, and on this I agree with Deputy Bruton. If the truth be told, individual meddling by individual European nations contributed to the early problems in the Balkans. Perhaps the most outrageous decision of all was the premature recognition by Germany of the breakup of the Yugoslavia federation by encouraging Croatia to go for independence. In the early debates on whether Ireland should join the single currency, I expressed the view that given that interest rates were largely being determined internationally, it would be better to have an input at the larger table than accept its results. Unfortunately, this Government failed again to secure high level representation in the Bundesbank, but nonetheless the same point applies here.
On a related but different issue, the strong support from the Presidency for the position taken by the Government in respect of the Ireland versus Yugoslavia football game is welcome. Some more sensitive members of the Government have accused me of being over critical of the Taoiseach. I make no apology for holding to account the Taoiseach and the Government; after all, it is what we are supposed to do in this House. However, I also praise them when it is appropriate and the decision in respect of this issue is a case in point. I publicly praised then, and do so again this evening, the action taken by the Government on this issue.
I raised this issue with Mr. Schröder at the meeting of socialist leaders to which I referred and was assured of his support. I am pleased he rang the international secretary to the President of UEFA – a Swedish national – on the matter. However, I am particularly critical of the position adopted by the French and by elements within Fine Gael which seemed to suggest that support for a concentrated bombing campaign that will kill people was okay, but that three points in a soccer tournament or a basketball game was more important than anything else.
The low turn out in the European elections across Europe is a source of concern for us all. Occasionally, Europe does not help its cause and the decision to abolish duty free is a case in point. For the sake of the absolute integrity of the free market, thousands of European jobs are being put at risk. One of the perks of travel within Europe which ordinary citizens enjoyed was apparently arbitrarily taken away from them. In the overall context of the completion of the Single Market, it was infinitesimal in its economic weight and yet it became the symbol of the relentless drive to have a “one size fits all” approach. I accept the Government's view on this and that it was supported by the Germans and the French. I also accept the internal reality of the Danish Cabinet and that a one member party of that coalition was absolutely rigid on this mat ter. I understand the same person is still a member of ECOFIN and that her party, which she leads, had made it clear that the issue related to the stability of the Danish Government, and the veto was exercised. The Danish decision to use their veto however, stands in stark contrast to Ireland's refusal to do so when the decision was originally taken. The forced absence of the Tánaiste from the recent Council meeting on the working hours of junior doctors was equally unfortunate. I wonder what the Irish position was on this issue. Even if this decision was dictated by member states, it has done Europe no favours among its citizens. Perhaps the Minister for Foreign Affairs will clarify this point in his reply.
The inability of the Government to decide who will replace Mr. Flynn as Irish Commissioner is also of continuing concern. The public positions being adopted by both the EU President, Mr. Prodi, and the Government bear little resemblance to the reality of what is going on in the background. It is clear, however, that Mr. Prodi will not tolerate the appointment of second rate Commissioners and the Government's inability to come up with a high calibre name at this stage is a source of concern. Again, this is a case of the Government's inability to take the European bull by the horns. The party political concerns of the Taoiseach will have more bearing on the appointment than anything else. I would have thought that after the European elections and today's Government meeting on the report of the Cologne summit, the nomination would have been made. I agree with many of the comments made by the leader of Fine Gael regarding the disconnection of Irish citizens as European voters from the role of the European Parliament and the appointment of the Commission. It is merely a matter of time before the Commission is elected directly by the members of the Parliament and the President of the Commission elected by universal suffrage throughout a European Union whose population may exceed 500 million. We should be leading that debate and articulating a point of view. We know that Fianna Fáil has a point of view but we do not know what it is because it is not being articulated.
The relationship of accountability between the Parliament and the Commission and the way in which it evolved in the forced resignation of the Santer Presidency over a set of comparatively small incidents which became a point of principle, largely because of the hauteur of the Commission and its attitude to the Parliament which is reflected by some Governments in some of the Councils I have attended over the years, fails to recognise that we have moved beyond a Common Market which was the limited objective of some of the founding fathers and participants in the first and second enlargements. We have become a genuine community with democratic values at its foundation. If democratic values are to be properly and fully implemented they must be given a new kind of constitutional architecture. That is what the Government should be initiating  by leading a debate, or even by responding to one. Suggestions have, so far, evoked no response from the Government.
Now that the elections for the European Parliament have been held, Ireland needs to know who its Commissioner will be. It is in our interest that a senior person with political credibility be nominated by the Government so that he or she can choose a portfolio of interest with President Prodi and not have to accept whatever portfolios are left. I am under no illusions about the political realities associated with the process of nominating a Commissioner. To borrow a phrase used by the Taoiseach in answer to a question on Northern Ireland, the situation will be no different in September than it will be on 30 June. Regarding the nomination of the Irish Commissioner, the situation will be no different next week than it is this week.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): The Taoiseach has reported comprehensively on the Cologne European Council. I join him in warmly commending the achievements of the German Presidency at Cologne and in general. My statement concentrates on the main common foreign and security policy aspects of the European Council and refers briefly to the decision about the next intergovernmental conference.
Kosovo was a major preoccupation at Cologne, Many of the issues which we addressed, especially in relation to the common foreign and security policy, had to be viewed, to some extent at least, against the background of tensions in the Balkan region. The Cologne discussions were marked by hope that a return to the path of diplomacy and negotiations would bear fruit. President Ahtisaari of Finland was able to give us an important report on the talks which he and Mr. Chernomyrdin had in Belgrade. I pay tribute to the Finnish President and also to the German Presidency for the determined way in which they worked to maximise the scope for a settlement. The House will be aware of the importance which I have always accorded to the indispensable contribution which Russia could make towards finding a political settlement. The promising scenario outlined at Cologne has culminated in the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1244 last Thursday. Welcome as this resolution is, it is still only the beginning of what will be a long, complex and costly process. At Cologne, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to a leading role in the reconstruction efforts in Kosovo. The European Union could play a leading role in the international transitional administration which will now be such an essential part of the civil implementation process.
The Kosovo crisis has regional roots and effects. The destabilising effects of the crisis were widely felt throughout the region in political and economic terms. These will not disappear until progress to a settlement in Kosovo is under way and additional measures are taken to stabilise the region and firmly set it on its new course. In this  regard, the Stability Pact for south-Eastern Europe will have a central role. Its objectives are to enhance peace, stability and prosperity in, and co-operation between countries in the region. I am pleased to inform the House that the pact was approved by the EU, UN. US. Russia and a wide range of countries' organisations on 10 June. The European Council made it clear that the former republic of Yugoslavia can participate when it has met the conditions of the international community, not only in regard to Kosovo but also on progress on democratic freedoms and respect for the rights of minorities. I encourage the former republic of Yugoslavia to take the necessary steps to bring about their participation.
An immediate priority is to ensure the safe return of refugees and the protection of the civil population in Kosovo. Security Council Resolution 1244 has authorised a large peacekeeping force, KFOR, in this regard. Planning for the full assembly and deployment of this force is under way and it is clear that a number of non-allied nations are interested in participating in KFOR. Ireland has sought access from NATO to planning and logistics briefings for this force and we are giving consideration, subject to Government and Dáil approval, to the question of participation by an Irish contingent in this force, probably in a transport-logistics capacity.
The Belgrade authorities should be under no illusions about the abhorrence and repugnance which their actions in Kosovo have caused throughout the Union and in Ireland. In this regard, I had considered it important to raise again the question of discouraging sporting contacts with the former Republic of Yugoslavia at the General Affairs Council of 31 May, as UEFA had not heeded our earlier advice of 26 April. When that second round of advice was also ignored, as the House will be aware, the Government decided that visas should not be given to the Yugoslav football team. This decision met with the full understanding and support of our partners at Cologne and was supported in the conclusions of the European Council.
In continuation of the work which it set in train at the Vienna European Council of December last, the Cologne European Council adopted an important declaration on European policy on security and defence. The Council invited the incoming Finnish Presidency to take this work forward and to submit a progress report to the Helsinki European Council. The outcome of the Cologne summit in this area is entirely acceptable to Ireland. The Cologne declaration reflects that, a month before the Cologne summit, the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force. It is useful to recall that the security and defence clauses of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which provide for the progressive framing of a common defence policy, and for the inclusion in the treaty of the Petersberg tasks of peacekeeping and crisis management, were motivated by the wish to ensure that the EU could play an active role in preventing and  managing crises in Europe before they erupt into full-blown conflicts.
A central challenge facing the European Union is to make a reality of the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Kosovo crisis in particular has given support to the view that the EU should be better able to act at the early stage to prevent and manage such crises, on the assumption that the United States will not always wish to become actively involved. In a development with implications which are likely to enhance the ability of the EU to play an active role in the Petersberg tasks, NATO, at its Washington summit in April, welcomed the EU debate and indicated its readiness to grant the EU direct access to its resources for Petersberg tasks. The Cologne declaration takes due account of this.
None of these developments is in conflict with our policy of military neutrality. The EU's priority, as set out in the Cologne Declaration and the progress report by the Presidency, is the Petersberg tasks as opposed to mutual defence commitments. Our fundamental approach to this debate is shared by our neutral and non-allied partners, and is understood by all. The coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the outcome of the recent NATO summit in Washington, and the lessons to be learned from the situation in Kosovo present both opportunities and challenges as the EU seeks to enhance its role for peacekeeping and crisis management in Europe. The priority facing the European Union is to give further impetus to the development of the EU's capabilities for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and crisis management on the basis of the Treaty of Amsterdam, and drawing on the possibilities for mutually reinforcing co-operation for which the treaty provides.
The strength of the CFSP lies in that all EU member states, on the basis of a shared analysis and on an equal footing, have undertaken to work together on all areas of foreign and security policy. The priority within the EU is a full and shared analysis of the common objectives which all EU partners seek, and of how to achieve these. Any institutional conclusions should flow from this analysis and not the other way around. There may well be a case, on grounds of efficiency and coherence, for bringing some of the Western European Union's peacekeeping and crisis management decision-making functions into the EU. However, it will be important not to discount the continuing value of the Western European Union as an organisation which can provide outreach to a wide group of states, many of whom are not EU members.
I pointed out at Cologne, with considerable support from the other EU members, that the question of integration of the Western European Union as an institution into the EU is problematic and should be dropped. The related issue of the Western European Union's Article V mutual defence commitment should be left to one side. It is not central to the challenges currently facing the European Union, which concern the enhance ment of the Union's capacity for peacekeeping and crisis management within Europe and not the issues of territorial defence which underpin Article V.
At Cologne, I also stressed the importance we attach to the equal opportunity of the four non-allied EU members to participate, if they so wish, in Petersberg tasks and associated planning on an equal footing. The EU acquis set out at Amsterdam should be the basis of our work. I do not see opt-outs from fundamental decisions in the security area as either necessary or desirable. The European Union must be able to work collectively for peace, stability and security in Europe. The key to this is peacekeeping and crisis management. We should ensure that all 15 members can play an active role in keeping with their own traditions and capabilities. The Cologne declaration fully meets our priorities on all of these points and clearly highlights the principles of the UN charter.
Paragraph 2 of the Cologne declaration raises the issue of capabilities. This is a point of concern for Britain, France and Germany, in particular, who take the view that failure by Europeans to reform and develop military capabilities will inevitably hamper the EU's ability to undertake Petersberg tasks.
Similarly, the declaration reflects concerns by many of our partners that there should be a restructuring of European defence industries. Ireland does not have a defence industry and so we are not one of the states involved. Also, the text makes clear that progress will be “as member states consider appropriate”, an optional clause which was inserted in the Amsterdam Treaty with our support. We are not committed to any particular course of action.
The Presidency report is a good basis for further discussion under the Finnish Presidency and restates, at Ireland's initiative, the EU's commitment to preserve peace and strengthen international security in accordance with the principles of the UN charter as well as the OSCE's basic principles. It is also recognised that the policy of the European Union shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states. This is a clause which Ireland had inserted in the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties. The clause takes account of our policy of military neutrality and that of the other states who are not alliance members.
The Presidency report suggests, but does not prescribe, a range of possible measures to improve the EU's ability to make informed and timely decisions on Petersberg tasks, including associating defence ministers with general affairs councils and setting up committees in the EU which have expertise in the politico-military area. These are issues for further reflection under the Finnish Presidency, and subsequently.
Issues of security and defence are intergovernmental matters, subject to the sovereign decision of the member states. I see no place for the Commission's idea of a common European army and  I see virtually no support from EU partners for such an idea. It is accepted that participation in the Petersberg tasks is a voluntary and sovereign decision for member states in each and every case.
The report also makes clear that all EU member states are entitled to participate in the Petersberg tasks and that participants will have equal rights regarding the conduct of operations. These developments point up yet again the importance and urgency of Ireland's participation in the Partnership for Peace, against a background of increased co-operation between the EU and NATO. PfP, as a point of contact and as a means of co-operation with NATO by neutral EU members, is an important element in planning for the Petersberg tasks.
The Treaty of Amsterdam provided for a new post, whereby the secretary general of the Council of Ministers is also to be the high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the CFSP. The post has been dubbed by the media as “Mr/Ms CFSP”. It was agreed to appoint Javier Solana. He is a distinguished and experienced former Spanish Foreign Minister and is at present the Secretary General of NATO. He will have to leave his NATO post before assuming his CFSP functions. The functions of Mr. CFSP are set out clearly in the Amsterdam Treaty: he will assist the Council of Ministers and the Presidency in matters coming within the scope of the CFSP. Mr. Solana was the only candidate for the position.
I welcome the adoption by the European Council of the common strategy on Russia, the first instrument of its kind to be adopted by the European Union. The European Union wants a far-reaching partnership with Russia which will help to consolidate the political and economic transformation now taking place within Russia, and contribute to the development of a lasting European peaceful order. We believe that such a partnership can also make a significant contribution to the resolution of wider international questions, for example, the Balkan crises.
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