Tuesday, 21 November 2017
European Security Strategy
I welcome the opportunity to address the Seanad on this important issue of permanent structured co-operation, commonly referred to as PESCO. I am happy to inform the House that the Government earlier today approved the formal notification by Ireland of our intention to participate, subject to Dáil Éireann's approval in the near future. PESCO provides a treaty based mechanism whereby EU member states can participate jointly in capability development projects. These capabilities can then be made available for common security and defence policy, CSDP, crisis management and peacekeeping operations. Participation in any particular PESCO project is entirely voluntary. As such, Ireland, along with all other member States, is free to decide for itself whether to opt in to any project on a case-by-case basis. Ireland has been centrally involved in the development of the CSDP from the outset and has been one of the leading contributors to CSDP operations.
Ireland supports the role the EU can play in support of international peace and security with the UN at its core. PESCO is a further initiative in strengthening the Union’s capacity in this regard. It should be noted that all CSDP operations to date have either been mandated or supported by the UN and endorsed in UN Security Council resolutions. This commitment to the UN is restated in the PESCO notification which recalls "the commitment of the European Union and its Member States to the promotion of a rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key principle and the United Nations at its core". Last September, at the informal meeting of Defence Ministers in Tallinn, I met the UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix. During that meeting he outlined his support for PESCO as potentially providing additional capabilities for UN-mandated operations. PESCO is also a means of enhancing interoperability and, working with EU partners, ensuring that our troops are equipped with the latest and best equipment and training.
A key challenge to the European Union's capacity to mount crisis-management operations has been a lack of essential capabilities and the political will from member states to commit the required capabilities for CSDP operations. PESCO has been designed to address this challenge, enhancing the political commitment of member states to both develop and deliver capabilities in support of CSDP.
Participation in PESCO is provided for in Articles 42.6 and 46, and Protocol 10 of the Treaty on European Union. Participation in PESCO has no implications for Ireland's policy of military neutrality, for the triple-lock or the roles we play in peacekeeping, peace building and arms control. The participation criteria expressly stipulate that PESCO will be implemented in full compliance with the Treaty on European Union and its protocols, respecting the constitutional provisions of the member states. Three other neutral EU member states, Finland, Sweden and Austria, have already committed to join PESCO.
PESCO was comprehensively debated in the context of the Lisbon treaty which was approved by the Irish people when they voted on the treaty in October 2009. The Senator may nod her head but if she goes back, looks at the treaty and listens to the debates,-----