Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Permanent Structured Cooperation: Motion
We do not need to come back looking for permission to participate in any of the projects in which we want to participate. As I have said previously, we are not legally compelled to adhere to any of the commitments within the document. The targets are collective and not specific to any individual member state. We can opt in or opt out on whatever basis we wish to participate in any of the projects. We are not compelled legally or any other way to participate in any of the projects that I have spoken about. It is a matter for each of the member states to opt in and opt out as they see fit.
In response to Deputy Ó Snodaigh, I indicated to my European colleagues at the Council meeting that it was my intention to join PESCO. Portugal has a process it has to go through. I respect that democratic process. I brought this to Cabinet, which approved the memo. I am here at the committee this evening and the motion will be debated in the Dáil tomorrow. I hope the Dáil will approve our participation in PESCO, but that decision will be made in the Chamber. I will bring the motion to the Dáil tomorrow and my recommendation will be that people would vote to participate in PESCO.
The Deputy spoke about spending. For whatever projects we participate in, the funding will come from our own departmental and Defence Forces budgets. As with the EDA projects in which we participate, which I brought to this committee and to the Dáil last week, that comes within our own budget. The Members of the Dáil approve our departmental budget annually as part of the budget process that we only completed recently.
While PESCO is entirely voluntary, I, as Minister of State, see the merits of in joining and participating in some of the projects that will be beneficial to members of our Defence Forces when they go on CSDP and UN missions. Deputy Lisa Chambers was right in pointing out the huge benefits for members of our Defence Forces in participating in PESCO.