Seanad debates

Thursday, 13 October 2005

12:00 pm

Photo of Feargal QuinnFeargal Quinn (Independent)

The Taoiseach is most welcome. I am an enthusiastic European and I defend Europe wherever I go. Last week I was in southern Africa where I met disadvantaged people. They do not understand how we can support agriculture in the manner in which we do in Europe yet claim to be interested in the Third World.

The old quote I often cite, is: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life." As long as we continue to support the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe in the manner in which the Taoiseach has defended — I understand that national interests are defending it — then we are not truly supporting the developed world. Can the Taoiseach state how we are to address the fact that we in the developed world are open to the accusation that we are not doing our bit for developing countries? Giving them cash and help is not sufficient as we must find some way to stop subsidising uneconomic growth, as we are doing in Europe.

On my way back from southern Africa on Tuesday morning, I stopped at Heathrow Airport. As I sat in the business lounge I picked up The Economist and saw therein an Austrian advertisement stating how Austria could compete with a country in north-western Europe with which it is competing for jobs and business. I could see at least five or six Europeans reading it. The advertisement was a reminder of Ireland's great success and of how much the country is admired, principally due to our economic success in recent years. We must not end this success by failing to pass the relevant legislation. The onus is on us in this regard. I ask the Taoiseach to ensure a regulatory impact analysis of all legislation is carried out, particularly that concerning the enforcement of European directives. An example arose yesterday in that we had a very good and useful debate on the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Bill.

On the Lisbon Agenda, as has been mentioned, we really must sell and market the benefits of the European Union to the people of Europe. We have not done this nearly well enough. The great benefits need to be sold if we are to succeed in making sure the citizens of Europe understand what is involved. I urge us to continue to sell the benefits just as Senator Maurice Hayes is doing at the National Forum on Europe.


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