SER events: The Annual SER Intervarsity Challenge Debate 2006
A squadron of select students was formed under the guidance of the President of the SER to accumulate words and numbers for an assault on Cambridge and, more importantly, the European Union’s biggest budget-eater. In the spirit of the rules of war, Cambridge were informed about this impending attack and set about structuring their own offensive in an effort to guard the Common Agricultural Policy. They arrived in a deceptively civilian-looking Boeing 737 and set up base in a nearby barracks. Meanwhile, the Trinity team were bunkered up in the Arts Block with pegs and a strategy map. The teams took up their positions in the GMB just before 1930 hours local time, when battle commenced.
Assembled to decide which team sequenced and relayed their stockpiles with greater aptitude and relevance was a panel of very distinguished guests. Chairing the panel for the second year in a row was Senator Shane Ross, Independent TCD Senator and Business Editor for the Sunday Independent. Accompanying him were George Lee, Economics Editor for Radio Telefis Eireann, Tom Moran, Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Con Lucey, Chief Economist with the Irish Farmers’ Association and Martin Territt, Director of the European Commission Representation in Ireland. The panel were equipped with enough debating, economic and agriculture expertise to accurately appraise the teams in all relevant fields.
In an effort to equalise potential home advantage, not only were the two teams pitched against each other but also their respective countries. The Trinity Trio was proposing the motion that The Common Agricultural Policy had outstayed its welcome, much at odds with what the coffers of Irish politicians and farmers would like them to argue. The Cambridge Cohort, in opposing the motion, was adding to the sweat beads on Prime Minister Blair’s forehead. As it turned out, neither team thought twice about such trivialities as the bombardment began.
Chris Kissane fired Trinity’s opening attack. He pointed out that CAP was created at a time when people across Europe had a legitimate fear of starving and, since this was no longer the case, it has no place in the modern world. He argued that CAP’s original goals have been replaced by a system where some of the richest people in the continent such as Queen Elizabeth and Larry Goodman receive subsidies. In addition, he asserted that because of CAP, EU citizens pay 25% more for food than would be the case under any other regime.
Cambridge sent Adam Swersky out to try to repair the damage Chris had inflicted before discharging a round of lexical ammunition. He argued that the Trinity team had misunderstood the CAP and ignored how it has changed to become very relevant to the issues of the day. He claimed, contrary to Trinity’s allegations, that there is no fair market and so sugar subsidies should be maintained. He justified the .5 per cent of EU GDP that is spent on CAP by saying that it ensures the livelihood of 5 per cent of EU population. He concluded that abolishing CAP would cause farm incomes to plummet.
David Comerford retorted and scolded the opposition for wasting food and hoarding condiments in the spirit of CAP at the pre-debate dinner. He hit decoupling and pan-European structural support programmes. He claimed that farmers, as a result of CAP, are being paid to own land and not actually farm. He insisted that the EU take apart the entire tariff regime.
David Tite argued that the cultural and community-related benefits of CAP are reasons not to abolish it. These included tourism and cheese choice in France. He pointed out that food safety was a legitimate concern and that CAP is instrumental in guaranteeing this. Cormac O’Dea rounded up Trinity’s assault. He pointed to the negative effect that CAP has had on consumer prices. He rebutted David Tite’s claims by saying that nurturing tourism in the Massif Central and facilitating the provision of three hundred types of cheeses to French consumers should not be objectives of CAP. He boldly contended that CAP intensified the foot and mouth crisis, contrary to David Tite’s food safety assertion. Cormac cited the case of New Zealand where a regime similar to CAP had been abolished successfully. Adam Bott launched the final round of ammunition from the visitors. He made the case for keeping the jobs of agricultural workers by preserving the status quo. He claimed that CAP no longer distorts the market. He argued that developing countries enjoy privileged markets and would lose considerably if CAP were removed.
The adjudicators debated among themselves until Senator Ross delivered their verdict. The award of best speaker was bestowed upon Adam Bott of Cambridge but, more importantly, Trinity came away with the prestigious title of the Annual Student Economic Review Intervarsity Challenge Debate Champions 2006.The SER committee is grateful to the College Historical Society, especially secretary Séin O’Muineacháin, Prof. O’Hagan and Dr. Newman for their assistance in organising the event. Also, the members of the panel of adjudicators and Harry Hartford, our very generous sponsor, are sincerely thanked.
Debates Manager 2006