Dáil Éireann - Volume 410 - 02 July, 1991

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Membership.

1. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach if he will outline his views on Sweden's application to join the EC.

2. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the Government's attitude to suggestions that membership of the EC could be increased by the admission of countries such as Austria, Sweden and Malta; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.

Any European state may apply to become a member of the Community. Austria, Malta and, as of yesterday, Sweden have applied for membership. However, as I have indicated to the House on previous occasions, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on such applications pending receipt of the Commission's opinions in the normal way as provided for under the treaties.

Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach [162] when he expects the Commission to provide an opinion on these applications?

The Taoiseach: As the Deputy knows, there is a general view throughout the Community that new applications for membership should be held over until the Internal Market has been completed.

Mr. J. Bruton: I appreciate that but does that mean that an opinion will not be provided before the end of 1992?

The Taoiseach: I would think so, but that does not mean that work will not be going on.

Proinsias De Rossa: While, as the Taoiseach has indicated, no opinions have been expressed by member states, it is known that a number of member states are not happy with some of the applications, at least with the Austrian application, because of their neutrality. Will the Taoiseach indicate his view in that regard? Does he foresee any difficulty with the application of any of the countries named in Question No. 2, specifically in relation to Austria?

The Taoiseach: I do not want to pre-empt anything, but I know that both countries feel their neutrality will not constitute an impediment to their membership.

Mr. Quinn: Since the Taoiseach will not be adjudicating on the membership of these three applicant countries, surely it is highly appropriate for him to welcome the application of three neutral countries to join the Community as that would strengthen the position Ireland has always held within the Community. Surely the public voicing of such an observation does not in any way cut across the protocol in relation to the Commission's view on this matter.

The Taoiseach: Like most member states, Ireland would welcome the adherence to the Community of countries of this kind.

[163] Mr. Quinn: Therefore, the Taoiseach welcomes their application?

The Taoiseach: As I have said, I welcome the adherence to the Community of countries of the kind of Austria and Sweden.

Mr. Deasy: May I ask the Taoiseach if there are any other applications in the pipeline for membership of the EC? For instance, Turkey has been mentioned for a number of years as a potential applicant, if it has not actually applied already.

An Ceann Comhairle: That matter is worthy of a separate question.

The Taoiseach: It is a separate question, but there is an application outstanding from Turkey.

Mr. J. Bruton: In view of what the Taoiseach has said about the timing of this application, is it not likely that by the time these countries join the European Community, the Community will be operating under a new treaty which will contain the concept of a common foreign policy for Europe?

The Taoiseach: That is almost certain.

Mr. J. Bruton: Will the Taoiseach define the concept of neutrality in the context of a common foreign policy?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is widening the issue.

Mr. Quinn: It means they do not have to join NATO, as the Deputy's party would like to do.

Mr. J. Bruton: I asked the Taoiseach a question. I doubt if I will ever be asking Deputy Quinn a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is a separate question in any event.

The Taoiseach: There was a time when the Deputy was happy enough to have [164] Deputy Quinn beside him answering questions.

Mr. J. Bruton: I am happy with him over there.

Mr. McCormack: The Taoiseach has unusual bedfellows.

Mr. J. Bruton: It is the Taoiseach's perspective that I would like to have.

The Taoiseach: The Deputy knows everything about me.

Mr. McCormack: The Taoiseach is dealing with a fair crowd.