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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EEC Membership.

Tuesday, 27 September 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 224 No. 1

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2.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement regarding the recent visit of Government Ministers to Brussels, and the present position of this country's application for membership of the EEC.

3.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange asked the Taoiseach if he has any statement to make to the Dáil on the recent visit to Brussels of the Ministers for External Affairs and Finance and on their discussions with European Common [3] Market officials regarding trade relations between the bloc and Ireland.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 and 3 together.

Deputies will have seen the agreed communiqué issued after the meeting in Brussels on the 20th September between Irish Ministers and the EEC Commission, in which the President of the External Relations Group and the two Vice-Presidents of the Commission participated. Copies of the communiqué are available in the Library.

The Ministers emphasised Ireland's continued interest in the EEC and the Government's desire to achieve membership of the Community at the first appropriate opportunity. Now that the Community has succeeded in solving most of the major internal problems which faced it during the past 18 months it is, at this stage, in a position to turn itself increasingly to matters affecting its external relations. The Community's immediate concern in this context is the Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations which is now under way and which must be pushed to a conclusion in the first half of next year. It is clear that action on Ireland's application for membership of the EEC cannot take place in advance of action on the applications of other countries seeking membership.

In addition to discussing the Kennedy Round a most useful exchange of views took place on such matters as recent developments in the Community, its broad economic policies and our Free Trade Area Agreement with Britain, with particular reference to its significance from the point of view of preparing the Irish economy to meet the obligations of membership of the Community. The Ministers also discussed the question of the export of Irish cattle to the Federal Republic of Germany during the off-the-grass period. Before a decision on this matter can be obtained it must be considered by the Council of Ministers of the Community as well as by the Commission.

[4] While Ireland's interest in securing improved market outlets in the Common Market in the interim period prior to accession was again stressed by Ministers, it was clearly still the view of the Commission that a special arrangement which would afford Ireland tariff and other advantages in the Community market is not a feasible proposition because of the Community's obligations under the GATT to extend universally any such concessions which might be granted to us.

The meeting, which was arranged in accordance with our policy of periodic contacts between Ministers and the Commission, took place in a cordial and constructive atmosphere. Proposals were agreed for further Ministerial visits to Brussels—by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries before the end of the present year and by the Minister for Industry and Commerce early in 1967. These will be followed by visits from time to time by other Ministers whose Departments are particularly concerned with EEC policies and developments and will be supplemented by meetings, as necessary, between Irish and Commission officials.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Is our application still on the basis of our accepting fully the Articles of the Treaty of Rome or, at this discussion, was there any talk at all about negotiating special conditions for this country?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass Our application is based upon acceptance of the Treaty of Rome.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Is it not a fact that Britain's approach will be the negoiation of conditions more favourable to them than those already stated?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass As I understand it, this would not be out of conformity with the provisions of the Treaty.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish But the Taoiseach will understand that Britain will not just make an application and get a yes or no answer but that there will be discussions between the British Government and the officials of the EEC as to what conditions they will go in on?

[5]The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I contemplate that there will be similar discussions between the Irish Government and the Council before membership is negotiated.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Does that mean the Taoiseach envisages a situation in which people will seek special conditions?

Mr. O'Leary: The Taoiseach states that our application must await the progress made with other countries and, in our situation, this must mean Britain. Has the Taoiseach any information on any fresh initiative by the British Government towards entering EEC?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I have no information which is not available generally through the newspapers.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Can the Taoiseach give us any rough estimate of when he thinks we may become a member of the Common Market? Can he tell us why the Government were so inactive during the past three years? Does he not think that now we are trying to open the stable door after it has been tightly closed? Can he give us any information as to whether the tariffs of 25 per cent to 40 per cent imposed on our cattle and other livestock to Italy and Germany can be or will be removed in the immediate future?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I do not agree that the Government have been inactive in this regard. I still think that the assumption that we can acquire membership by 1970 is a valid one. In so far as any special trade arrangements with EEC are concerned, it seems now that these must await the outcome of the negotiations which are taking place in GATT.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Could the Taoiseach say how soon we are likely to know the result of our approach to Germany in relation to Irish cattle?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I could not answer that.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Did the Taoiseach say he only knew the proposals for Britain's application through the newspapers?

[6]The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I cannot be expected to speak here for the British Government.

Mr. O'Leary: After the signing of the Free Trade Area Agreement were there any fresh developments on Britain's application? When you say the Government here are aware of the position from the newspapers, is it the position that the Government's information is merely at newspaper level or is anything really significant happening?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I cannot say what changes of attitude may be developing in the British Government in this regard.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Despite our Free Trade Agreement.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I do not think that bears upon it. The Deputy asked was there any development in the policy of the British Government. I do not think that is a question I should be expected to answer.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Surely the Taoiseach knows we have an adverse trade balance with all these countries and that we are buying three times more from them than they are buying from us?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan The Deputy is not putting a question; he is making a statement.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Can the Taoiseach do anything in the immediate future about this adverse trade balance that we have with these countries at present? Can the Government do anything to make them buy more from us? The Government are still buying Mercedes cars, etc.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass That is hardly relevant to the question of our EEC membership.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange We are purchasing three times more from them than they take from us. Can something be done about that—even a barter agreement?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Question No. 4.


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