Seanad Éireann - Volume 106 - 19 December, 1984

European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1984: Committee and Final Stages.


Question proposed: “That section 1 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. McDonald: On the status of Greenland at present, do I take it that the kingdom of Denmark is still responsible for Foreign Affairs and the defence of Greenland?

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. O'Keeffe): The present status of Greenland is that it has been granted home rule within the kingdom of Denmark. On that basis — I do not want to be totally categoric — I would expect the areas referred to will be dealt with by the kingdom of Denmark rather than by Greenland. I have to confess that I have not seen the terms of the home rule agreement but because it remains within the kingdom of Denmark I can safely reply in the affirmative to the Senator's question.

Mr. McDonald: The Minister referred to the fishery agreement which he said was extensive, I have not seen it. Has provision been made for the Spanish fleet in the new fishery agreement?

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: The agreement on fisheries is between the European Economic Communities on the one hand, the Danish Government and the Local Government of Greenland on the other. I am not quite sure what the Senator has in mind when he refers to the Spanish fleet. As we know, Spain has applied to [1066] join the European Economic Communities but the negotiations have not been completed.

Mr. McDonald: With respect, the fishery negotiations have been completed. We understand that since the summit there has been agreement on Spain's accession. The greatest stumbling block as far as we are concerned was fisheries. The cod war was fiercely fought and even though the Greenlanders do not have an army, considerable losses were inflicted. Are we facing another cod war if the Spanish do not take the new agreement before the House into account?

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: The question of the enlargement negotiations is a separate issue. The Senator is not quite correct when he says that the arrangements on fisheries between the Community and Spain have been agreed. The current position is that the Foreign Affairs Council and the Community position to be presented to Spain was finalised last Monday. We are possibly straying to an entirely different area——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I thought that, Minister.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: The Senator possibly should be aware that the Spanish Foreign Minister already indicated that he does not accept the Community's position which was established, and very difficult negotiations on fisheries lie ahead within the enlargement process.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 2 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Mr. McDonald: I wish the Greenland [1067] agreement well, but the entire agreement as far as fisheries is concerned would appear to be unsatisfactory. I am saying that in the absence of seeing either agreement. I cannot understand how we can ask the Community to agree to this cessation before we have tied up all the ends with Spain. We must remember that the Community quotas incorporate the waters of Greenland. Spain has a bigger fishing fleet than the entire Community put together and the quotas will have to be reallocated. There is a grave difficulty here and I hope our fishermen will not suffer.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I can assure Senator McDonald on that point. The agreement arises from the withdrawal of Greenland which provides post-withdrawal access for Community boats to Greenlandic waters. There are no direct implications for Irish fishing activities in this treaty. Greenlandic fishermen do not fish in Irish waters, similarly Irish fishermen do not fish in Greenlandic waters. The fisheries agreement mentioned covers Community boats, which are generally Danish and German boats, and enables them to continue to fish in Greenlandic waters. To a certain degree it could be said that there is perhaps an indirect implication for Irish fishing in that while Irish fishing boats do not fish in Greenlandic waters, we are very anxious that there would be a fisheries agreement with Greenland to enable boats from other member states to continue their fishing activities in Greenlandic waters. Our anxiety arose because of a possible indirect effect in that if they were unable to continue such fishing activities in Greenlandic waters, it could put pressure on other parts of the Community waters, i.e. close to our shores, an eventuality we are anxious to avoid. We are happy to see a continuation of fishing in Greenlandic waters and that it has been possible to have this fisheries agreement with Greenland. I would emphasise again that Spain is an entirely [1068] separate issue. I have no doubt that in due course, possibly in the context of a debate on enlargement generally there will be an opportunity for a much more detailed discussion of that point. I am not totally in order talking about Spanish fisheries at this stage, but if the House wishes me to do so, having been involved in the discussions in Brussels over the last couple of days, I will be happy to do so, but it is off the point——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Not on this Bill.

Question put and agreed to.