Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Permanent Structured Cooperation: Motion
We have sought legal advice from the Attorney General's office. The legal advice is that this does not go beyond our traditional policy of neutrality in any way. I read an extract from the final text of the PESCO document for Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, which said that the agreement reflects a country's neutrality and its own traditional policies.
On the question of why we are joining PESCO, Ireland strongly supports the role of the Union in peacekeeping, crisis management operations and initiatives which enhance deployability. Deployment capability in operations is essential. The establishment of PESCO represents a further development in EU co-operation in support of international peace and security under the CSDP. Under PESCO the member states will come together in different groups to develop and make available additional capabilities for peacekeeping and crisis management operations. It is very important that we work alongside other member states. When we go abroad we must ensure that we have the experience of working with other member states. PESCO will also enable the Defence Forces to develop further their capabilities in support of peacekeeping through participation in joint projects with like-minded partners. Joint projects should also drive down the costs of developing and procuring capabilities. Through participation in all aspects of the CSDP, Ireland has been able to influence its overall direction.
The Deputy asked what projects Ireland will be participating in. There are 16 projects available at the moment. We have highlighted six, which are a centre of excellence for EU training missions, deployable military disaster relief capability packages, underwater systems with harbours and maritime aerial surveillance protection, upgrade of maritime surveillance, cyberthreats and an instant response information sharing platform. I do not have to go into each of those to demonstrate how important they are. We face much greater threats now than compared with those faced ten, 15 or 20 years ago. All of the projects I have mentioned are under consideration at the moment.