State was opposed to EEC growth

THE Government privately opposed European enlargement four years after the state ended a 12-year battle to become a member.

A Department of Foreign Affairs memo, approved by the Government in December 1977, argued expansion would stifle the country’s economic interests.

Ireland, which joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, was weighing up whether to back applications from Greece, Portugal and Spain.

“It is unlikely that enlargement would bring to Ireland any significant balancing economic or tactical benefits. The conclusions of an inter-departmental study of the question show that enlargement would in many respects be directly detrimental to the economic and financial interests of Ireland,” the document states.

Ireland’s first EEC application came in July 1961 but was shot down weeks later.

A second attempt was thwarted in 1967 by French President Charles de Gaulle.

But in 1969, de Gaulle’s successor, George Pompidou, promised not oppose British or Irish membership and both joined in 1973.

The study argued enlargement could see funds diverted away from Ireland, see certain agriculture policies threatened and weaken our influence. But it said Ireland would be unable to publicly oppose enlargement.


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