Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Permanent Structured Cooperation: Motion
Yes absolutely. I totally disagree with him. There will be no European army and this is in the protocols of Lisbon Treaty. At the European Council meeting in June it was agreed to launch PESCO by the end of the year.
That was an unfinished document. I was not going to bring an unfinished document before the House. This has been in the public domain since my appointment in May or June 2016, when I first answered oral questions on PESCO. Not one Member of the House came to me to say they had concerns about PESCO and ask me about it or said they wanted this or that included or excluded. I was not going to bring an unfinished document to the Dáil this year. I was going to wait until I had the final document which we cleared at our Council meeting on 12 November. I brought it to Government on Tuesday, 21 November and then notified the Oireachtas that I wanted to bring it before the House before 11 December.
Ireland had part of the final document, and its wording included: "Participating Member States will meet their binding commitments, confirming that the establishment and implementation of Permanent Structured Cooperation will be undertaken in full compliance with the provisions of the [Treaty of the European Union] TEU and the protocols attached thereto and respecting constitutional provisions of the member States". That states very clearly how we got into it.
The Deputy spoke about the 2% expenditure. That is the collective EU target. Each member state, as within the protocols, decides what it wants to spend. The White Paper on Defence commits us to an increase in spending, year on year. I am criticised for not investing enough money in the Defence Forces, yet today Deputies are saying we spend too much money on them Do they want our personnel to go abroad with outdated equipment?