Now Let's Get down to Plastic Ecus

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<ul><li><p>Fortnight Publications Ltd.</p><p>Now Let's Get down to Plastic EcusAuthor(s): Jacques MacneeSource: Fortnight, No. 306 (May, 1992), p. 4Published by: Fortnight Publications Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 25/06/2014 08:02</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>Fortnight Publications Ltd. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Fortnight.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 08:02:13 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Now let's </p><p>get down </p><p>to plastic </p><p>ecus </p><p>Mon cher ami, </p><p>Sorry for the long silence, but what with Irish protocols and other ex </p><p>otica, the European agenda has been some </p><p>what crowded these past months. Now I see </p><p>we have to take some more of your peculiar ideas on board. </p><p>George Quigley has been promoting the idea of Ireland as an "island economy" and </p><p>wants the European Community to recognise it as such. Support for his general thesis has come from the Northern Ireland govern ment (via the now-departed Lord Belstead), from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and from various commentators. </p><p>Specifically, Dr Quigley was suggesting that the EC allocate a "block of resources to the island, for allocation by agreement be </p><p>tween the two governments on a basis agreed with the EC". In a subsequent interview he </p><p>spelt it out a bit more. Both north and south, he said, assuming a devolved authority in the north, "as equal partners could negotiate a </p><p>block of resources for the island". </p><p>This is all very interesting and positive, but it makes the chair of the Ulster Bank sound a bit like the Social Democratic and Labour leader, John Hume?and both of them, in this case, a few ecus short of a grant. </p><p>For a start, the island of Ireland is not one </p><p>economy but two. Certainly, there is scope for </p><p>much greater economic co-operation between </p><p>the two parts, for more integrated economic </p><p>and social planning. But even with that there </p><p>would still be two economies. </p><p>Certainly, too, the European Community would like to see such cooperation, and has </p><p>indeed already allocated modest funding to </p><p>encourage it. But an economy consists of the </p><p>whole range of economic activities within an </p><p>area plus its various inputs and outputs. What </p><p>makes the Northern Ireland economy very </p><p>different, and quite distinct from the repub lic's economy, is the annual net input of up to </p><p>?2,000 million from the UK exchequer. This fact alone makes it almost impossible </p><p>for the EC to treat the economy ofthe island as </p><p>one. If you take the current allocations from </p><p>the structural funds?leaving aside farm sup </p><p>port under the Common Agricultural Policy? Northern Ireland gets ?550 million for the </p><p>period 1989-93, while the republic gets ?2,570 million. The regional policy commissioner, Bruce Millan, has repeatedly said he sees </p><p>nothing unfair about that: the republic is a </p><p>small weak economy, while Northern Ireland </p><p>is part of a large and relatively prosperous </p><p>economy. (From which it gets some ?2,000 million a year, which makes even the repub </p><p>lic's EC rake-off petites pommes de terre, as </p><p>we say in Brussels.) How then could Brussels have one budget </p><p>for Ireland? How could the island be treated as </p><p>one for EC-aid purposes? How, for that mat </p><p>ter, could north and south as equal partners </p><p>negotiate a block of resources with Brussels </p><p>?since one is a member state and the other is </p><p>a small region of a member state, and ulti </p><p>mately only member state governments nego tiate such deals with Brussels? Ah, says Dr </p><p>Quigley, Ireland is a special case. Mon vieux, as you and he well know, the European Com </p><p>munity is a Community of Special Cases?all so special they have to be treated equally according to the rules. </p><p>Dr Quigley was careful to say that none of </p><p>his suggestions could come about if there were "political agendas, overt or hidden". He </p><p>might as well not have bothered, for the next </p><p>day his proposals were branded by one loyal ist group as "part of the hidden agenda of the </p><p>Anglo-Irish accord" and as "text-book nation </p><p>alist dogma". And Douglas Hamilton </p><p>(Fortnight 305) welcomed his "refreshing" proposals?but added that, without funda </p><p>mental changes to political arrangements, the </p><p>benefits from them would be limited. So what political arrangements are to be </p><p>changed fundamentally? Is there a hidden </p><p>agenda after all? </p><p>The problem with discussing closer north </p><p>south ties within the European Community is that nationalists in the north talk as though the </p><p>EC was founded chiefly to provide an um brella for the unification of Ireland, and the </p><p>unionists believe them. This is a pity, for while it may not be widely perceived in Northern Ireland, the EC was founded for other reasons </p><p>entirely, one of which was to render obsolete </p><p>any ambitions to alter the political boundaries of Europe, and elirr mate quarrels that might flow therefrom. </p><p>Nevertheless, unionists should look again </p><p>at Dr Quigley' s * island economy'. They might </p><p>note that while he called for all sorts of north </p><p>south cooperation, including the setting up by the two governments of "machinery to assist </p><p>in establishing priorities for the strategic allo </p><p>cation of resources", he never once mentioned </p><p>the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Now, article 2 of </p><p>that agreement states that the Intergovern mental Conference established under it will </p><p>deal with four specific policy areas, number </p><p>four of which is "the promotion of cross </p><p>border co-operation". But Dr Quigley is talk </p><p>ing of something else: he wants the Euro-MPs </p><p>and the social partners involved. </p><p>This begins to sound like an idea floated in the 70s?an Economic Council of Ireland. It is </p><p>an idea whose time may be coming again. The </p><p>upcoming talks on Northern Ireland are all </p><p>about replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Mr Reynolds may pretend they will reopen the </p><p>question of partition, but they are essentially about finding a new agreement acceptable to </p><p>the unionists. Most unionists concede there </p><p>must be a substantial Irish dimension. As they will never accept the political input of the </p><p>republic as in the quasi-joint authority Hillsbor </p><p>ough accord, it would make sense for them to </p><p>deliver the absolute maximum on all sorts of </p><p>other cross-border matters, particularly the </p><p>economy. Economic commentators agree that there </p><p>are gains to be made, jobs to be created, </p><p>through stimulating commerce and trade within </p><p>the island. Opinions differ on how big these </p><p>gains might be, but most agree that economic </p><p>activity within the island is less than it should and could be. Unionists need to brush up their </p><p>image. What better than to present an entirely </p><p>positive face to the new secretary of state and </p><p>the resumed talks?maximum economic unity, as far as that is possible without changing the </p><p>political set-up? A joint British-Irish pitch towards the EC </p><p>for special funding is unlikely to yield mas sive dividends, and clearly the unionists and </p><p>sensible nationalists would not want to go down any road that might put in jeopardy the </p><p>vastly greater UK transfers. But, while guard </p><p>ing against that, the unionists could well af </p><p>ford to back calls for more EC funding for cross-border schemes. </p><p>The hard facts of European life are that EC funds will flow in far greater volume to a poor </p><p>member state like the republic, than they ever </p><p>will to a not-so-poor region of a reasonably </p><p>wealthy member state like the UK. But in an </p><p>integrating island economy, the north could </p><p>hope to share to a considerable degree in the </p><p>beneficial effects of EC aid to the republic, and might also hope to squeeze out additional resources for programmes and projects planned on an all-Ireland basis. </p><p>That way the unionists might get not just some ecus, but some badly-needed kudos. As </p><p>this latter is not yet within the European mon </p><p>etary system, mere might be considerable </p><p>speculative gains from such an investment. </p><p>A bientot, </p><p>Jacques Macnee </p><p>4 MAY FORTNIGHT </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 08:02:13 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p><p>Article Contentsp. 4</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsFortnight, No. 306 (May, 1992), pp. 1-44Front MatterNow Let's Get down to Plastic Ecus [p. 4-4]LeaderWe'll Get There despite Them [p. 5-5]</p><p>BriefingDemocratic Experiment [p. 6-6]X for the Exiles [p. 6-6]Regionalist or Racist? [pp. 6-7]Le Pen Is Still Mighty [pp. 7-8]They're Not Giving up [p. 7-7]Still Not Cohesive [p. 8-8]Spotlight on Rights [p. 8-8]They Took Their Time [pp. 8-9]Courting Couple [p. 9-9]</p><p>Cover Story: UK Election: The AftermathSir Patrick Has His Day [p. 11-11]All over Bar the Talking? [pp. 12-14]Right Prescription [pp. 14-15]England, True and Blue [pp. 15-16]Spoiling for a (Real) Fight [p. 16-16]</p><p>A Sea-Change in Attitudes [p. 18-18]A Hundred Flowers Blooming [pp. 19-20]Daisy and Larry Go to Baghdad [p. 21-21]No More Violent Eruptions, Please [p. 23-23]It's a Dream Still [pp. 24-26]This One Turned Sour [p. 25-25]Personally Speaking: Unaware, out of Touch [p. 26-26]Letters [p. 27-27]'Troubles' Chronology [pp. 28-29]BooksObituary: Michael McLaverty: Part of His Own Posterity [p. 31-31]Review: Breaking the Ice [pp. 31-32]Review: Sagart an Ghr [p. 32-32]Review: Missing the Target [pp. 32-33]Review: Annus Mirabilis: 1989 [pp. 33-34]Review: Masterly Survey [p. 34-34]</p><p>Melting-Pot Music [p. 35-35]Less Sex, More Sashes [p. 36-36]Strong, Yet Subtle [p. 36-36]Midsummer Night and Easter Week [p. 37-37]Crowd-Pulling Versifiers [p. 37-37]Cultural Domination [p. 38-38]... and Cultural Exchange [pp. 38-39]New Summer School [p. 39-39]Unpeeling the Parish [p. 39-39]Poems [p. 41-41]Correction: Poems [p. 41-41]Sidelines: The Paddy Factor [p. 42-42]Back Matter</p></li></ul>


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