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About this book

Recent times have witnessed a dramatic turn around in Ireland's fortunes. From being a poor and peripheral state, it has emerged as a prosperous, dynamic and self-assured player among the nations of Europe. For many, the Irish experience provides a model of the potential rewards of European integration. But, just how far are changes in Irish society the result of EU membership? What difference has the EU made to Ireland and, for that matter, Ireland to the EU?

This major new study of Irish-European relations provides a rich account of Ireland's membership of the EU and the impact of the EU on the institutions, policy and economy of Ireland It will be read with benefit by all who want to further understand what Europe means for Ireland and those wanting to learn from Ireland's experience in a comparative context.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
The purpose of this volume is to examine the relationship between Ireland and the European Union. What difference has participation in European integration made to Ireland? The decision taken in 1961 to seek membership of the European Economic Community (EEC/EC), the original manifestation of the now European Union (EU), formed part of a new national project for Irish political elites begun in the late 1950s — the economic modernization of Ireland. Since accession in 1973, the Irish story of membership has been, on balance, a positive one. Despite such upsets as the Nice and Lisbon Treaty referendums along the way, European Union membership has allowed Ireland to take her economic and political place amongst the nations of Europe.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 1. Becoming a Member State

Abstract
In January 1972, the Prime Minister Jack Lynch and his foreign minister, Patrick Hillery, left Dublin airport for Brussels to sign Ireland’s Treaty of Accession to what were then called the European Communities, now the European Union. Following the signing ceremony on 22 January, Brussels experienced its first Irish ‘session’ or party with songs and music from members of the Irish delegation, including a well-known ballad from the Irish Prime Minister. Just over fifty years after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, a treaty that gave the people of 26 of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland the right to establish a state (the Irish Free State) separate from the United Kingdom, an Irish Government had successfully negotiated accession to the European Communities and was about to put the question of membership of the EEC to the Irish people in a referendum. The Communities had profoundly altered the European system of states that Ireland entered in 1922. To be a member state would in turn transform Ireland’s external environment, its engagement with the world and the internal dynamic of its economy and society. The Prime Minister and his party were seen off at Dublin airport by the then President, Eamon de Valera.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 2. Ireland’s EU Experience

Abstract
Ireland joined the EU on 1 January 1973 following a long period in search of membership. Within months of accession, a general election returned a new Government to power, a coalition between Fine Gael and the Labour party. The Labour party had opposed Ireland’s membership in the 1972 referendum but accepted engagement with Europe as the settled will of the Irish people and worked to ensure that Ireland would adapt to membership and take advantage of the opportunities it offered. The appointment of Dr Garret FitzGerald as Foreign Minister in the new coalition Government was significant; FitzGerald was very involved in the Irish Council of the European Movement and knowledgeable about how Brussels worked. A committed Francophile, FitzGerald did much to ensure that, from 1973 onwards, the Irish governmental system prepared adequately for Ireland’s first presidency of the Council in 1975. The successful presidency in the latter half of 1975 marked the end of the governmental system’s apprenticeship in the EU, but it would take longer for the economy to flourish in the Union.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 3. Managing Europe

Abstract
When Ireland joined the EEC, an additional layer of governance was added to its domestic system of policy-making, posing a challenge to its national political and administrative systems. The national core executive, that is, the Irish government and central administration or bureaucracy, became a dominant carrier of Europeanization, as the system was required to adjust to engagement with the EU’s system of collective governance. Public policy-making was no longer to be conducted within the confines of the structures and processes of Irish government as EU policy-making triggered institutional adaptation ‘at home’ and altered domestic rules (c.f. Laffan and O’Mahony, 2007). Adaptation to this system required more than just a once-off adjustment as the EU policy regime itself expanded and evolved over time. The Irish core executive became the key bridge between the national and the European in the EU’s networked system of governance, with members of government and senior civil service officials, the cadre or boundary managers, acting as translators of EU policies, norms and practices into the domestic arena and projecting domestic preferences back into the EU arena (Bulmer and Burch, 1998, 2000 and 2001; Featherstone and Radaelli, 2003). Managing this additional layer of governance thus became increasingly important to the Irish core executive. So how does the Irish core executive manage EU business at home and in Brussels? Has the Irish public administration system developed the capacity to act effectively at the EU level? How has the system of domestic management of EU business evolved over time?
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 4. Parties and Parliament

Abstract
Hopes were high when the decision was taken to implement direct elections to the European Parliament (EP) in 1978. The EP was to become the only directly elected European body, conferring increased legitimacy on both the parliamentary assembly itself and on the European decision-making process. It was also hoped that elections at the European level would inspire increased debate on European issues at the national level. As in every other member state, direct elections to the EP added a new European dimension to the Irish electoral calendar and introduced Irish political parties to a world of transnational European politics. In European elections Irish political parties are, in theory at least, given the opportunity to put forward their own views on the process of European integration and at the same time engage with the electorate on European issues, thus deepening both their and Ireland’s political involvement with the EU. But in reality, have EP elections deepened Irish politicians’ and political parties’ engagement with the EU? Are European issues salient come national and European election-time?
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 5. Referendums and Public Opinion

Abstract
Until the first referendum held on the Treaty of Nice in June 2001, the mainstream Irish political elite’s pro-European consensus was reflected in the attitude of the Irish electorate towards the EU — referendums were comfortably passed and Ireland signed up to reforms and initiatives contained in the Single European Act (SEA), the Treaty on European Union (TEU, also called the Maastricht Treaty) and the Amsterdam Treaty. Successive referendum success cemented Ireland’s reputation as a ‘good European’ (see Table 5.1). The positive attitude of the electorate was mirrored by public opinion polls on the EU: a healthy majority of those surveyed declared themselves in favour of membership and appreciated the perceived benefits that membership has brought Ireland. Hence the rejection of the Nice Treaty by the electorate in 2001 was an electric shock to the political system. Following the second successful referendum on Nice in 2002, the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 re-opened the debate about Ireland’s place in Europe.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 6. Multi-level Governance and Territorial Politics

Abstract
Membership of the European Union has myriad effects on governance in the member states, including territorial organization and politics. The Union by adding an additional layer of governance takes policy-making beyond the domestic. The laws and policies of the Union penetrate core executives and are taken into the policy processes at national and sub-national levels, and EU policies are designed to trigger institutional, process and policy change in the member states. The impact of the EU on territorial politics is classified as one of the five ‘faces’ of Europeanization by Olsen (2002). Attention to the multileveled character of the EU accelerated in the 1980s arising from the growth of European regional policy and scholarly research on the dynamics of this policy area. Multilevel governance was developed into a theoretical account of the European Union in opposition to state centric and intergovernmental accounts (Marks and Hooghe, 2001). This chapter explores the interaction and intersection between EU policies and processes and territorial governance and politics in Ireland.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 7. The EU and Irish Public Policy

Abstract
How does Europe hit home in terms of its impact on Irish public policy? EU policies and legislation have influenced Irish policy norms and goals, the types of policy instruments used and even, on occasion, the style of domestic policy-making. They have widened the political and discursive context of policy-makers by bringing new ideas and policy norms into the domestic arena. The need to adopt EU legislation has also influenced both the constellation and behaviour of policy-makers and societal actors who have adapted to the new opportunity structure European integration offers (McGowan and Murphy, 2003). Yet, by its very nature, the impact of the EU on Irish public policy is differential. In some areas, such as agriculture, monetary or competition policy, the EU has fundamentally shaped the direction, content and pace of policy development, often exercising exclusive competence. In this context, the EU’s policy repertoire becomes the domestic policy repertoire (Mair 2006). In other policy domains such as the environment, competence is shared between the national and the European as domestic priorities are pursued alongside European-level goals. Yet again in policy areas such as health and education, national authorities keep firm control on developments; any European-level move is carefully circumscribed and at most complements action at the national level.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 8. Irish Foreign Policy in the EU

Abstract
It would be fair to say that Irish politicians and diplomats did not envisage any great impact of the EEC on Irish foreign policy at the time of accession (White Paper, 1972; Keatinge, 1978). This was not entirely surprising. In the late 1960s, the competence of the Community in the field of foreign policy, that is, the ‘high politics’ of diplomacy, defence and security was almost non-existent. Yet the EEC had clear aspirations to develop as a political actor and by the late 1970s a mechanism for foreign policy coordination at the European level, European Political Cooperation (EPC) had been developed and used. EPC consisted of a series of mechanisms through which the national foreign policies of member states could be more closely coordinated. As a process, however, EPC did not involve legally binding obligations and foreign policy was defined in a restricted way (Keatinge, 1984b, p. 45). Over the course of the next 30 years EPC was to evolve into a common European framework of foreign, security and defence policy coordination and integration starting with the Maastricht Treaty’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). As EPC evolved towards this more ambitious CFSP, Ireland’s tradition position on foreign and security policy issues (that is, military neutrality) came under increased scrutiny. The story since then is one of the reconciliation of competing and conflicting interests as successive Irish governments and the electorate have been faced with the need to adapt to this new foreign policy environment.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 9. British-Irish Relations: The European Dimension

Abstract
On 15 May 2007, the then Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern addressed the Joint Houses of Parliament at Westminster, the first Irish Prime Minister to do so since the foundation of the Irish state in 1922. It was an occasion charged with symbolism given the contentious historical relationship between the two islands to the north-west of the European continent. The islands are governed by two sovereign states, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The UK is internally divided, with three devolved authorities Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England, the largest and most populous entity within the UK, is not governed by a devolved authority. The relationship between state and nationhood and between the different nations inhabiting these two islands is highly complex and remains contested, albeit largely by peaceful means. Both states joined the then European Communities, now the EU, on 1 January 1973. For Ireland, the UK decision to accede to the EU was of major significance, and given the level of economic dependency on the UK, Ireland was left with little choice but to seek membership. The dependency this signalled was, however, counterbalanced by the opportunity membership offered Ireland to break free and hence to enhance Ireland’s real sovereignty.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 10. Ireland as a Model?

Abstract
As Ireland strove for economic development and modernization during the postwar period, it often looked to other European states for inspiration about policy or institutional design, and the Nordic states and the Netherlands were frequently invoked as models, the source of ideas and as ideals that Ireland should seek to emulate. Now that Ireland succeeded in achieving economic convergence and catch-up, it in turn is invoked as a model for other states in Europe and more widely. The transformation in Ireland’s status may be grasped symbolically by the changing image of Ireland portrayed on the cover of The Economist. The 1988 country report on Ireland depicted a mother with a young child on her lap begging on the streets of Dublin with the caption Poorest of the rich. This association of Ireland with poverty was replaced in 1997 by one in which the cover depicted the Republic in a map of Europe as Europe’s shining light. That transformation was not anticipated. A report by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) in 1981 on Ireland’s socio-economic position within the EEC concluded that ‘At the national level Ireland is the poorest and least developed of the nine Member States. At the regional level the two most disadvantaged areas are Ireland and the Mezzogiorno’ (NESC, 1981, p. 65).
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony

Chapter 11. Ireland: A Small State in a Large Union

Abstract
This statement by an Irish Prime Minister, 30 years after accession, gives an insight into the official narrative of Ireland’s engagement with the European Union; the EU is seen as pivotal to the Irish experience and Irish fortunes. This chapter seeks to explore the validity of this strong claim by identifying how Ireland as a small state has engaged with the development of the EU, followed by an exploration of just how Europeanized Ireland is, and what the EU has meant for Ireland.
Brigid Laffan, Jane O’Mahony
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