Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Department of Defence
360. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the European peace facility, EPF, proposed off-budget €5 billion that would fund EU military operations and maintain a contingency fund for emergency defence force deployments; the details of Ireland’s contributions to same; the parameters of this fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40400/20]
368. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the meaning of deployment of critical capabilities when looking to explore ways to improve the financing of military missions and operations in the context of the EPF Council decision, in particular regarding the deployment of EU battle groups and, in due course of the deployment of critical capabilities based on lessons learned from ongoing missions and operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40408/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 360 and 368 together.
The European Peace Facility was proposed by High Representative and Vice President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, in 2018 with the aim of providing the EU with a single off-budget financing mechanism of up to €5 billion (€5.7billion in current prices) for the period of the next MFF, 2021 to 2027, and would finance a range of Common Security Defence Policy (CSDP) actions having military or defence implications.
The EPF would unite and expand the scope of two existing mechanisms, the Athena Funding Mechanism which handles the financing of common costs relating to EU military operations under the EU's common security and defence policy (CSDP), currently funded by the Department of Defence, and the African Peace Facility, which primarily supports African Union actions and is currently funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The EPF is seen as a global instrument and will, in particular, expand the geographical scope of the African Peace Facility. The EU believe that the EPF will improve its ability to prevent and swiftly respond to crises and conflicts, primarily but not exclusively in areas that display the most urgent and critical security threats for the EU.
While discussions are on-going at EU level to finalise the provisions of the mechanism, it is expected that this mechanism will be operational in 2021. Member States contributions to the EPF will be based on a gross national income (GNI) distribution key. Ireland's GNI distribution key is expected to increase in 2021 to reflect the impact of Brexit. The allocation of the €5.7billion for the period 2021 to 2027 across assistance measures (under what was the African Peace Facility) and Athena and across each of the seven years of the MFF has not yet been agreed by Member States.
The Department of Defence has responsibility for the Athena Mechanism. Under the proposed EPF, funding for Athena will remain in a separate pillar within the framework of the EPF and will be expanded to account for the additional costs associated with EU overseas deployments. While projected out-turn for Ireland's contribution to Athena in 2020 is approximately €1.7m, the indicative figures provided in respect of Year 1 of the EPF indicate expenditure in this area for Ireland in the region of €2.2m for 2021.
In terms of military CSDP missions and deployment of members of the military forces of member states, the only change proposed within the EPF is that more of the costs would be commonly funded. At the moment most of the costs associated with, for example, an EU military Training Mission or the deployment of EU Battlegroups, lie with the member states which send personnel, but in future there will be more costs (eg transport costs) eligible for refund from the Facility. While there is preliminary agreement on the type of costs to be covered in common, the actual amount will depend on the circumstances- the type, number and location of military CSDP missions, including future missions which may be agreed only by unanimity over the coming seven years and take into account lessons learned from ongoing missions and operations.
Discussions continue in Brussels on the measure and the exact provisions and there are on-going discussions here between the Departments of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to this matter.