Dáil Éireann - Volume 354 - 06 December, 1984

Reports on Developments in the European Communities: Motions (Resumed).

[1970] Debate resumed on the following motion

That Dáil Éireann takes note of the Reports:

Developments in the European Communities — Twenty-Second and Twenty-Third Reports.

—(Minister for Foreign Affairs).

Mr. Allen: Deputy Collins in his speech tried to create the impression that the recent summit did not look at the major problem in Europe, the problem of unemployment The Deputy said that there was a growing scepticism and cynicism in relation to the Community that had manifested itself in the percentage of people who voted in the most recent European election. A lot of the cynicism may be coming about because of statements like those made by Deputy Collins that the Council of Ministers did not attempt to look at the unemployment problem. The communique that was issued after the summit dealt specifically with unemployment and made five main recommendations in relation to unemployment. It agreed to initiate a review of manpower policy in the Community; it decided that the Council should pursue and accelerate its consideration of measures to achieve a greater role for the ECU and develop and strengthen the EMS; it also agreed that they should implement without delay the firm political commitments in the field of transport policy, and it decided to adopt further measures to strengthen the technological base of the Community and restore competitiveness. These were major decisions which should get at least some attention. To say that the meeting did not attend at all to the problems of unemployment is inaccurate.

I am glad that the Minister in his speech referred to the difficult situation in Nicaragua. I am participating in this debate today because I feel I should give my impressions of the democratic system in [1971] Nicaragua. We have seen too many inaccurate and misinformed statements emanating from international press agencies giving a totally wrong perception of the situation in Central America. When I had the honour to represent my party as a member of the delegation that went to Nicaragua in October I set about collecting information about all aspects of the election campaign there. Before going out to assess whether or not the elections were free elections I briefed myself well and had come to the conclusion that I could not use the European form of parliamentary democracy as the only criterion for assessing the position in Nicaragua. The political tradition there is different and for many decades political culture there has been influenced by the dictatorship that existed there and also by the fact that a state of emergency existed during the election because of the guerrilla war. The situation is also complicated because of the devastation brought about by the 1972 earthquake which still leaves most of central Managua devastated. This devastation has been allowed to continue because of the misappropriation of funds made available through international agencies. I travelled to Nicaragua without preconceived ideas and attempted to tackle our job there with regard to the elections in an open-minded way. I went out to talk to all concerned in the election process.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy seems to be getting away from the subject matter.

Mr. Allen: The Minister has detailed the problems of Nicaragua in his speech and they are also referred to in the reports of the Communities. During my stay I had discussions with as many groups and individuals as possible. I would point out that even though we had a personal guide we were allowed to communicate freely with all those groups and were allowed to travel throughout the countryside unattended. Free and democratic elections were one of the main objectives of the Sandinista revolution which was [1972] supported by all groupings including the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. The elections, along with a policy of non-alignment and a mixed economy, were the chief aims of the new Government. However, the five year rule of the Government had been marked by a counterrevolution which, admittedly, resulted in the erosion of civil liberties. But in February last elections were called to take place in November 1984 to elect a President, Vice-President and Constituent Assembly. All political parties in the state were asked to participate. The establishment of electoral laws was discussed by a Council of State earlier this year.

There is a wide range of political parties existing in Nicaragua but they can be broken down into two main sectors, the Patriotic Front of the Revolution and the Co-ordinadora group. I shall not go into the details of those political groupings. All parties who decided to register fully for the elections received political rights and those that did not register were not recognised as legal political parties for electoral purposes. All parties who registered for election were given access to radio, television and the press there. The group opted out, deciding not to register because a number of their policy decisions regarding nomination of their candidates was not met. As a result the only parties that participated in the election and who nominated candidates were those from the main bloc, the Sandinista group, the Patriotic Front. Seven parties decided to participate and the decision by the opposition group not to register meant that they lost their legal rights. Therefore, they must face some criticism for their self-elimination, abstentionist decision. Their attitude was that by abstaining they denied the election the tag of legitimacy.

In travelling to Nicaragua I decided that the following major decisions had to be posed: First, taking into account the situation in Nicaragua, the guerrilla warfare, the social consequences of the earthquake and so on, would the voting process express voters' wills or would their citizens be forced to behave in a [1973] specific manner because of the threat of unpleasant consequences which would result if they did not take part in the election process? Second, had the ruling body guaranteed that the result of the election would be respected and would power be handed over in the event of an opposition victory?

In attempting to assess whether the election held was a free one we were somewhat hindered by the proximity of the election and the difficulty of arranging meetings with all the parties involved. It was not that we were unable to get the co-operation of the authorities but, as with elections in any other country, the people concerned were totally involved in the campaign itself. We were also somewhat hindered by the absence of a number of Ministers who were attending the funeral of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, former chairperson of the Non-Aligned Group.

The Sandinista movement, who had been ruling the Government since the revolution, had ruled for five years. In that time the party and the state had come very close. This gave the main grouping, the Sandinista grouping, a very definite advantage in the election campaign. However, I believe that did not prevent fair elections being held especially when one remembers the economic crisis confronting the country. Our discussions in Nicaragua have shown that press censorship was eliminated almost entirely over the last two months of the election campaign. Registration of voters took place in August and 1,500,000 people registered to vote. That figure has been accepted by all commentators as realistic, bearing in mind a population of three million people and a minimum voting age of 16. The voting process was up to European standards in that voting secrecy was ensured by the same process as is allowed here. Therefore, my conclusion was that the voting operation itself was technically maintained.

In attempting to come to a conclusion we discussed the election process with one of the non-participating parties, the [1974] Socialist Christian Party. We had discussions with their candidate for the Vice-Presidency — had their party participated — Mr. Aidan Fletes, and with their vice-president, Miss Anucena Ferrey. They refused to register because of the alleged lack of free speech prior to the date of registration. They have now come to regret their decision as they stated that the situation in that regard improved considerably since the date of registration and that conditions over the last few months were proper for a free and open election.

On election day our group split up. I shall not go into details on this except to say that in all of the polling booths we visited, even those visited at random, the election was seen as a simple, efficient, honest one, totally secret, with no coercion being visible. All of the observers present were highly impressed by the arrangements at those polling booths.

Having made as many inquiries as possible in the days we were there before election day, and having witnessed the proceedings on election day itself, we came to the conclusion that the election was a fair one in the circumstances, that voters were in a position to express a preference freely and in secret. On the evening of election day a meeting was arranged of all European parliamentarians who had observed the election. Even though minor reservations were expressed about certain aspects, everybody agreed that the election itself and the campaign had been democratic.

Dealing briefly with the second major question of whether the ruling party would relinquish power in the event of defeat, that question cannot be answered because of the non-participation of the major Opposition parties.

Dealing now specifically with what this and other European countries can do in the way of development aid to Central America, I should say that a meeting was held in September 1984 in San José between European Community Ministers and Central American representatives when Ireland, among others, rejected the United States' suggestion of excluding Nicaragua from any regional [1975] aid package. Many Nicaraguan leaders, including their now President, Daniel Ortega, expressed to our delegation their appreciation of the Irish Government's stance at that meeting. However, having visited Nicaragua and recognised the urgency of the situation obtaining, I consider that Ireland should examine seriously our overall policy with regard to that country, taking positive action to support its defence of its national sovereignty. I was glad to hear Deputy G. Collins support that view in the House earlier today.

Most democratic observers of the Central American situation are in agreement that the solution to the problems of the region are best achieved through political rather than military means and that the build-up of military infrastructure in the countries surrounding Nicaragua constitutes a threat to the fragile stability of the entire region.

Ireland, in our historical tradition of upholding principles of non-intervention and respect for the sovereign right of countries to determine their internal affairs, should use our unique relationship with the United States to influence the current United States Administration in the direction of a political solution to the problems of the region. There are definite, concrete ways in which Ireland can take such action.

Ireland should recognise the considerable advances made for democracy in Central America as a result of the free and fair elections held in Nicaragua. We should support the Contadora process. At the meeting of EC Ministers with representatives of the Central American countries and the members of the Contadora group, Ireland, together with its fellow European countries, stated its diplomatic and political backing for the Contadora initiative. Ireland should seek to reaffirm this position in all international fora, promoting the support of all democratic countries for the Contadora process. Ireland should seek observer status of the Contadora group and encourage its EC partners to do likewise. Ireland should also seek to establish some [1976] form of formal diplomatic links with Nicaragua and other Central American countries, at least at consular level.

More contacts and exchanges with Nicaragua should be encouraged to enable the Irish people to have access to information about the progress of the Nicaraguan situation. This is very difficult because of the very slanted reports about that area coming from the international press agencies. I attempted to assess the situation before I went there by reading reports in international magazines but I found the reality to be totally different. We should encourage politicians, journalists and representatives of other social groupings to avail of the opportunity to visit that area and gain understanding of its complexities.

The Nicaraguan Government recently asked for adequate food supplies for the population during 1985. In order to fulfil their needs they have appealed directly for emergency aid, including wheat and powdered milk. More importantly, they have sought long term development aid in the form of financial and technical assistance for their agricultural development programme. This is an area in which this country can become involved in a major way. I laud the efforts of the Irish people in relation to Ethiopia but it is an attempt to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. What we should be attempting to do is to set up the necessary structures to prevent such appalling situations developing. We have the opportunity in areas like Central America where serious problems will arise if we do not make available the necessary technical and financial investment in their agricultural sector.

In addition to aid on a Government to Government basis, the Irish Government should use their voice in international aid agencies, particularly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to ensure that countries like Nicaragua are not jeopardised through lack of finance in their attempts to bring stability to their country. The success or failure of the democratic process in that area depends to a large degree on the extent to which European Governments can convince the [1977] United States Administration to adopt a new and different policy to the Central American region, especially towards Nicaragua. A vigorous attempt should be made to ensure that all military assistance is brought to a conclusion. I am not talking only about US aid to the counter-revolutionaries but also about aid from Eastern bloc countries to some administrations in the region. There should be urgent dialogue with the United States and Eastern bloc countries in order to exclude external interference.

Since our visit there, talks have taken place between the newly elected Government and the Opposition parties in order to work out a political pact involving issues such as a pluralist society and a mixed economy. This pact would ensure a realistic part in the democratic process for the Opposition. Unfortunately the negotiations are not being helped by the tensions created by threats of external intervention. If these threats were eliminated I am satisifed that the democratic process could be worked out. I welcome the statement by the Minister this morning and also the statement contained in the communiqué from the summit on Tuesday.

The report also deals specifically with a matter of particular interest to me, namely, environmental protection. One of the major problems facing the EC is trans-border pollution, especially the problem of acid rain. The Community must address itself to the control of acid rain as a matter of urgency. We have seen examples in Germany and elsewhere on the Continent of the damage caused to forests by high levels of sulphur dioxide being emitted from industrial complexes. The problem is also raising its ugly head in this country. The first signs of damage to our environment are being seen. The greatest amount of acidity in rain is in Dublin. Much of it is self-produced but under certain weather conditions much of it comes from mainland Europe and Britain. I am anxious that attempts to control environmental pollution be brought under one agency. Responsibility is too fragemented to be effective at present. I would ask for the setting up [1978] of an environmental protection agency to tackle the serious problem of acid rain pollution before it reaches crisis proportions. I would also ask the Government to ensure that a definite policy evolves in Europe. There is no such policy now and we must not reach the stage of formulating policies when the damage has already been done. The evidence already exists on mainland Europe and is becoming apparent here and the problem deserves urgent attention.

I compliment the Minister and the Deputy Collins on their positive statements. I am grateful for the opportunity of putting on record my views on these issues.

Mr. Daly: These reports give us an opportunity to discuss developments in the Community. Because of the elections this year many of the developments in the Community were discussed publicly. There was an opportunity during the election campaign to highlight many of the areas of development in the Community which have been referred to in the report. A lot of what is in the report has been decided on. It would be useful for us to look ahead rather than looking back over reports of recent years. It would be more useful if we discussed future prospects for the Community bearing in mind what has transpired in recent years. It was interesting to note that in spite of the public debate on development in the Community in the course of the campaign the turn out at the polls was very poor. It makes one wonder if our people have become disillusioned with the Community and feel that developments in Europe are not relevant to them. It is important that we take note of the fact that the turn out in that election was a lot lower than we anticipated. Part of the reason was that even at this early stage of our membership the Community is becoming more remote from the people.

It appears that our people are not as familiar or involved in Community discussions as they should be. We have an opportunity this afternoon to keep up the momentum of interest in the Community. Some recent events will no doubt [1979] make people more aware of the importance and significance of the Community. They will bring home to the people the relevance of the Community to our economic and social position. With the help of the newly elected members of the European Parliament I expect that our people will become more involved in Community developments and I do not think we will see a repeat of the disappointment in the election turn out. It was unfortunate that many people considered their vote in that election to be irrelevant.

I should like to deal with the question of fisheries, the developments that have taken place in regard to that industry and the importance of them to the Common Fisheries Policy. Those involved in the negotiations are aware that it was difficult to conclude an agreement on a Common Fisheries Policy. Discussions took place over five or six years involving not only member states but other countries who had arrangements with member states. That resulted in complicated arrangements being hammered out. It is unfortunate that a short time after that policy has been agreed, and as it is working successfully in the Community, an application for enlargement will disrupt it. That disruption will have serious consequences for the Irish fishing industry.

Since negotiations commenced to establish a Common Fisheries Policy the hopes and expectations of those involved in the industry here rose. As a result many invested heavily in boats, fishing gear, modernisation and training. Those people find now that because of the proposed enlargement there is the possibility of a threat to their livelihood because 17,000 Spanish boats are waiting to take advantage of some suitable accession arrangement. All the investment and training that has gone into the building up of our fishing industry is seriously threatened by the negotiations. Indeed, the Common Fisheries Policy is threatened. The enormous Spanish fleet will seek certain rights and quotas within the Community. That was not a problem up to now. It appears that the Common Fisheries [1980] Policy will be thrown into disarray unless the negotiations are handled carefully. Those negotiations will have a significant impact on our industry. Our national interest must be protected. The rights of the Irish industry must be safeguarded in any arrangements made to enlarge the Community.

The question of limits on quotas, the introduction of new structures and the provision of funds for modernisation of our industry, which were firmly established in the Common Fisheries Policy ratified in 1983, must be dealt with. There is a danger that that agreement will be undermined and rendered irrelevant. Those involved in the industry here, and many of the interests in the Community, are not satisfied that proper procedures will be adopted to protect their position and ensure their viability and expansion in the future. All the investment that has been put into building up our industry and the efforts to have an effective policy in the Community to ensure maximum development of fishing is under threat because of the pressure to enlarge the Community. Many people question the need for such an enlargement.

I do not have a big objection to the enlargement of the Community provided such a move is in the best interests of the Community and that the various interests are not adversely affected. From the point of view of fisheries I cannot see any advantage resulting from an enlargement. In fact it is apparent that in the negotiations that have taken place to date Ireland will be at a disadvantage following the enlargement. That has not been helped by the secrecy surrounding the negotiations that have taken place so far. Many fears are being expressed because of the lack of information on a clear cut policy statement from the Government or the Taoiseach in regard to enlargement proceedings.

It is disgraceful to think that the Taoiseach in the course of his statement on the summit did not mention anything about a fisheries policy to be adopted by the Community on the enlargement of the [1981] Community. We can only rely on newspaper reports and we understand that they are fairly reliable. Is it true that the position is that there will be a ten year transition period with the possibility of a further five year transition period being negotiated during that time? Is it true that after that time there well be an abolition of the Irish box which protected our industry from the threat of Spanish boats?

We have only to look over the last year to see the number of breaches of existing regulations and the difficulties experienced by our protection services to control the activities of the Spanish boats within our 50 mile limit, and to recognise how enormous the problem will be for them in an enlarged Community. When negotiations are taking place on the transitional period the applicant countries may claim that they will be able to systematically fish in our waters. That would be disastrous for our fishing industry.

There has been no indication from either the summit or in the statements by the Minister in this House that there is any recognition at Government level of the seriousness of the situation, the damage that is likely to be done to the Irish industry and the way development in the industry will be halted and reversed in the enlarged Community if negotiations continue along the present lines. As the Minister said, these discussions did not start yesterday or even during the summit. They have been going on since last summer. In the original discussions it was anticipated that a transitional period of 20 years would be sought before the entry of Spain or Portugal. In that 20 year transitional period efforts would be made by the Community to help the Spanish Government to restructure and rationalise their fleet because everybody agrees there are not the stocks to justify such a big fishing fleet. If Spain did not reduce her fishing fleet it would pose a major threat to our fishing industry.

As the discussions develop it has become obvious that there has been a weakening in our position. Already the 20 year transitional period is being reduced to ten years, with a possible [1982] extension of a further five years, but there is a demand from the Spanish Government that there be no transitional period except for a phasing from year one, coming into the 12 mile limit, the six mile limit and, if necessary, the three mile limit. This would spell ruin for the Irish fishing industry. This move must be resisted. There is no evidence so far that the Government are taking this seriously. At the summit issues, such as wine, which have no relevance to this country seem to have been given prominence rather than issues of vital national interest to Ireland which we, as President of the Council, should have been putting forward.

The fishing industry is left in a hopeless situation. The framework agreement agreed by the Community in Spain, ratified and signed in 1980-81, sets out the systematic reduction of Spanish fishing off the Irish coast. Now two years later Spanish fishing off our south west coast has been reduced by over 50 per cent. In the discussions taking place now there is a complete reversal of that position, with concentrated efforts being made by the Spanish boats to come into our six mile limit and establish rights they claim they had under the London Conventions before the Community was established. We are not satisfied, and neither are the fishing interests, that our fishing interests are being protected in the present negotiations. We fear that the Irish fishing industry will not be able to expand in the future if negotiations continue along the present lines.

Since we joined the Community our fish catches have increased enormously and this has helped to stabilise our industry and offered hope for the future. There is a genuine fear that the enlargement of the Community will put the Irish industry back ten to 15 years if negotiations continue along present lines. We have seen strenuous objections to the Norwegian application for access to blue whiting in our north west waters. I acknowledge that the present Minister for Fisheries fought against this application. We see a fairly valuable potential for supplies of blue whiting in the future. [1983] We must continue to strenuously oppose any efforts by the Norwegians or others to gain access to blue whiting and other stocks which might not have been traditionally fished here in the past.

Everybody in the fishing industry knows that expansion in traditional areas of fish is limited. Everyone admits that if our industry is to develop and expand we must get involved with the non-traditional quota species. We had discussions about dogfish at Question Time today. The Norwegians are prepared to fight strenuously, even though they are outside the Community, to gain access to our blue whiting stocks because they can see the benefit of these stocks to their industry. I acknowledge that the Minister fought the Norwegian attempt to gain access to our blue whiting stocks and he must continue to do that. He must also continue to fight the pressures to reduce our mackerel quotas. Mackerel is very important for the Irish industry and the mackerel export refund was abolished in January 1983. We expected to see some positive results since then, but they have not materialised. Our fishing industry lost up to £25 million or £30 million because of the abolition of that refund. The Minister did all in his power to re-establish that export refund which was very important to our industry but he did not succeed. I should like to bring home to the Minister the urgency of pressing ahead with the campaign which he undertook to have that export refund restored for the mackerel fishing industry and that he will continue to do that within the Community, especially now when that industry is so important for the development of our fishing industry here.

All these areas are very important for the future development of the Community. We do not feel that the interests of the Irish industry are being protected. Fish which could be processed and developed here is being dumped. It is intolerable that we go abroad seeking outlets for fish and fish products and at the same time we are importing huge amounts of fish which could be processed here. There [1984] is a crying need for investment in processing industries. There is also a need for investment, through European funds, of more money into the development of the processing industry so that we can not only catch the fish here under the policies laid down by the Community but that we can also develop them into primary and secondary processing plants in order to provide jobs as well as having the value of the catch.

The cheapest varieties of fish are being imported at enormous prices while our fish is being dumped. The market here in relation to fish is totally unexploited in so far as job creation and revenue for the State are concerned. When are we going to do something through the institutions of the Community for the development of processing in this vital area, because the fishing industry has a very big impact in regional areas and in smaller coastal regions? This has been recognised not only by the Community but by the Canadians and others. There must be investment in coastal areas and the way to do that is by basing it on the materials which are available. It makes common sense to do this by basing it on our own resources, by processing our fish and feeding ourselves with that fish rather than exporting it and reimporting it when it has been processed abroad. In that case the benefits and jobs accrue abroad and we are the losers. It is a crazy system which must be tackled with the help of the Community.

People here are losing interest in the Community because it does not have relevance to their needs. We should be able to turn this around if we take the initiatives which are needed and if we can build into the Common Fisheries Policy agreement policies in relation to the creation and exploitation of our own industrial projects. This would provide jobs and revenue for the State and it makes sense.

To get away from fisheries, I noticed recently in some press cuttings that huge amounts of funds were available from the Regional Fund for the development of industry in the United Kingdom. I drew this to the attention of the Minister for [1985] Finance because we seem to have lost out in relation to the funds which are available. The British Government have also given large sums to the textile industry. This was done through the EC, although I understood that there would be no assistance for that measure. Nevertheless, the British Government secured large sums from the Regional Fund to aid the textile industry. Our textile industry is in chaos. A few days ago in my constituency we had the closure of one of the major textile firms, the Burlington industry in Clonlara, with a loss of 250 jobs. The textile industry could be saved if there was investment in new plants, new machinery and new equipment. They could then make a profit and jobs could be saved.

I thought that the Community would not fund industries in the textile area because of the Community policy which laid down that funds were not available for investment in that area. The British Government and the British Minister for Industry can announce substantial funding in that area which will protect jobs in the textile business in the United Kingdom. We should be entitled to the same facility for our textile industry to ensure that there are no more closures. I am aware that some work has already been done in relation to changes in the way in which funds can be got from the European Regional Fund, especially in the non-quota section, but we must get substantial aid for our textile industry to stave off job losses.

We have also seen the closure of the ship and boatbuilding industries here. At the same time the British Government under the same Regional Fund recently announced substantial funding from that fund for the British shipbuilding business. Hardly a day goes by here without a closure of a boatbuilding yard but we were told it is Community policy not to grant-aid or assist projects in the shipbuilding area. How then can the British Government benefit in this area? Millions of pounds have been given from the Regional Fund to build up industries in the Six Counties. These are very welcome but we should also benefit. It is time that [1986] the Regional Fund was looked at very closely by the Government and by the Dáil to see if any changes can be brought about to make it more relevant to our needs and to deal with some of the problems which we are experiencing in some very important areas.

I want to refer very briefly to a point which was made by Deputy Allen. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments he expressed in relation to efforts in the Community to control and eliminate pollution in so far as it is possible to do so. I am particularly concerned about the discharge of sulphur dioxide and the effect of discharges which will be emitted from the Moneypoint station. I was amazed to read recently in one of the newspapers that emissions from Moneypoint were damaging the environment in the south-west. The writer obviously does not know that the station has not yet been completed. Chimneys have not emitted any effluent at this stage but there is a real possibility that when the station is operational, probably in mid-1985, there will be a threat to the environment from the discharges from the chimneys at Moneypoint. This can be rectified now if the equipment for the control of emissions is installed in the station.

The Moneypoint station is a huge generating station by any comparison one cares to make even in Europe. It will generate an enormous supply of electricity but it will also create a serious environmental problem unless care is taken and the necessary equipment installed to control emissions from it. I am aware that grants are available from European funds for this purpose. However, I am not certain that the Department of Energy have recognised the threat that will exist and have not availed of the money from Community funds to install this highly sophisticated equipment. I ask the Minister for Energy to use those Community funds to make sure that the necessary equipment is installed. If the station is allowed to go into production and to have these discharges it will be too late to tackle the problem. The time to deal with the problem that will arise in the future at Moneypoint is now before the station goes into [1987] production. I know that the Minister visited the site recently and he is aware of the urgency that is needed to deal with the matter now. The funds are available to do the job if the will is there at departmental level.

This report is useful in that it gives us an opportunity to debate some of the matters that have caused us concern. In the future development of the Community it is essential that we make our voices heard in relation to our specific demands. While we can look favourably at the development of an enlarged Community there are also threatening signs that that enlarged Community may damage certain sectors here and we have an obligation in the negotiations to ensure that our vital interests are protected. I am not satisfied that has been done up to now. I am not satisfied that the proper negotiating stance has been taken in relation to fisheries. I am not satisfied that there is any advantage for the Irish fishing industry from the kind of enlarged Community we will have, especially if the demands that are being sought by people who are not members of the Community are met or if our position is weakened any further in the negotiations that are taking place at the moment.

I hope this debate is an indication that we will have further debates on this topic of Community involvement in our affairs. I should like this House to be given an early opportunity to debate the question of enlargement of the Community and the effects that will have not only on the fishing industry but on the development of our economy in future years.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Before Deputy McCartin starts his contribution I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Justice has been given permission to make a short statement at 4.45 p.m. The Deputy's contribution may be completed at 5 p.m. but I ask him to be prepared to be interrupted at 4.45 p.m.

Mr. McCartin: Apart from statements by the Taoiseach and the Leader of the Opposition no meaningful debates on the [1988] European Community are held in this House except in relation to reports such as the one we are discussing now. However, these reports deal with matters that are over and done with. We do not have an opportunity to debate future developments in the Community and this was pointed out by the previous speaker. When we discuss the EC we seem to do it at a time when the House has not a full programme, at a time when most people have gone away and when the journalists are bored with the number of subjects that have been discussed during the week. That is when the European Community is discussed in this House and then we take the opportunity to grumble and grouse about what has happened in the Community, especially if it has not been sufficiently charitable from our point of view.

In the debate today one speaker discussed Nicaragua which is relevant in a sense. Other speakers attacked the decisions taken regarding the entry of Spain and Portugal and they grumbled about the risks to our economy. Mention was made of milk and the failure to produce the right figures last year. We should be more constructive in our attitude and we should discuss the developments we want in the Community.

With regard to the summit, the chief Opposition spokesman for this subject lashed the Government regarding unemployment which he said was not discussed at the summit meeting. It was really a complaint that the participants in the summit did not push the employment button and get out the jobs. Everything that was discussed at the summit has a bearing on employment. The whole process of working towards greater cooperation in Europe is geared towards the objective of having a more successful economy is western Europe.

Some speakers have blamed the Taoiseach but I think this has been a good week for him. With respect to the previous speaker, the EC have not the power to keep out Spain and Portugal. The Treaty of Rome does not give any country the right to veto. That Treaty opens the Community to all countries that accept [1989] democracy and the rule of law within the Community as it is laid down. We can negotiate with Spain and Portugal about the terms under which we will pursue various economic policies when they enter but we do not have the power to keep them out. The Treaty of Rome is very explicit on that.

Mr. Daly: I did not say we should keep them out.

Mr. McCartin: The Taoiseach was extremely successful in working out a solution to the problems. Until the present members agreed on a common approach it was not possible to proceed towards the final phase of the discussions for the entry of Spain and Portugal but we have got the kind of agreement we needed.

Wine may be irrelevant to the west of Ireland. It is irrelevant to the people in my constituency but it is not irrelevant to millions of people in the Mediterranean region, in France, Italy and also in Germany and Luxembourg. We should not dismiss difficulties regarding wine any more than we would like to see people in the Mediterranean region dismiss difficulties regarding milk and dairy products. It is very unfair of us to be dismissive of that problem. The Taoiseach did a great job in bringing together those conflicting interests and at arriving at a point where the present Ten could agree to admit two other nations.

I welcome their comments. The continent of Europe is a comparatively small area and even with the newly enlarged Community it is right to reflect that with the way the world population is increasing, at the end of this decade the European population will be less than 5 per cent of the world population. We have new and fragile democracies looking to their neighbours in the more developed part of Europe for assistance and membership of the Community. They hope that this will consolidate the democracies and give them the opportunity to enjoy more prosperity. It is a victory for us all that the Ten have sat down and agreed on [1990] the terms under which their entry can be negotiated.

There was a bad turnout here for the European elections in June. There is a lot of talk about the cynicism of the Irish, their disappointment and their disillusionment. If they are disillusioned about what has happened in the Community, the people who have failed to inform the Irish public on the work of the Community are more or less to blame. The public were probably led to believe that the new European Parliament would have vast resources and introduce all sorts of legislation, bringing direct benefits steaming home across the Channel to the Irish people. That point of view was put around by some people. It is a great misconception that the new Parliament would have seriously increased powers compared with the old nominated or non-elected Parliament.

Recently, when we discussed the budget at European level it was clear that people do not realise generally how that budget is estimated any more than it is known how we in this House estimate and vote moneys under the various headings to finance all our policies. They do not understand what happens in Europe. It would be difficult for them to do so. A claim was made that one member of the recently elected Parliament had succeeded in proposing and having passed an amendment which brought Irish agriculture 1,000 million ECUs. Anybody who understands anything at all about the process by which the budget is decided in the European Parliament knows there are two distinct areas. One is compulsory spending, which is the whole area of agriculture — everything that we are obliged to finance or subsidise under the treaty. Parliament does not have any say there. As far as the whole agricultural area is concerned, apart from structural aids, when prices are fixed the level of spending is decided upon. That has not yet been done.

The total margin which the Parliament have to work on in this year is estimated by the Commission, and the Parliament are obliged to work within that margin. There was a serious dispute this year [1991] about that margin but the maximum that Parliament could argue that they had to decide on was 400 hundred million ECUs. The Council of Ministers thought it was 280 hundred million ECUs.

I want to make the point that the public have not been well informed. People making dishonest statements of this sort are guilty of spreading the disillusionment which caused some people not to vote in the last European elections. It is hardly worth my while, in the time left, starting to develop a number of points which I wanted to develop. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle has asked me to give the Minister for Justice an opportunity to make a statement and it is almost time. We will return to this subject at another time. I briefly refer to a matter raised by Deputy Daly about the Regional Fund, having read in the papers that money was being provided for a shipyard. It is not very hard to get precise information on this.

Mr. Daly: That information was from the Minister.

Mr. McCartin: It does not cost anybody anything to ring the office of the Commission and ask.

Mr. Daly: That was from the Minister's office, not from the newspapers.

Mr. McCartin: The Deputy did not give us any information on the amount of money he was talking about. He did not make reference to the fact that per head of population we get more benefit from the Regional Fund, or that the Regional Fund——

Mr. Daly: The Deputy can blame the Minister for that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister for Justice has been permitted to make a statement. I would remind the Minister and Deputies that the debate must conclude at 5 p.m.