Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Photo of Gino KennyGino Kenny (Dublin Mid West, People Before Profit Alliance)
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216. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will outline Ireland’s current and potential future involvement in European Union defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23597/22]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The European Union's common security and defence policy (CSDP) is a policy setting the EU’s framework in the field of defence and crisis management, including defence cooperation and coordination between Member States. Ireland is a strong proponent of the important role the EU can play in support of international peace and security and of the UN. It is essential, therefore, that Ireland remains fully engaged in all CSDP processes and contributes fully to the development of the policy in order that we can influence its evolution.

Ireland is engaged with a number of European Union defence-related initiatives and frameworks, including the European Defence Agency (EDA), the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the EU Satellite Centre (EU SatCen), the European Defence Fund (EDF) and the European Peace Facility (EPF).

The European Defence Agency was set up in 2004 during Ireland’s Presidency of the EU and Ireland joined the Agency in July of that year. The EDA is an Agency of the European Union, which supports Member States to develop a range of capabilities and capability standards to support CSDP, in particular the deployment of military capabilities in support of Crisis Management Tasks, as outlined in the Treaty on European Union. Ireland’s participation in the Agency provides access to research and information on developing and maintaining professional capabilities and research that we cannot self-generate. This is important in terms of Ireland's ability to participate in UN-mandated Peacekeeping Operations. Ireland contributes, on an annual basis, to the operational budget of the EDA.

In May 2017, the Council endorsed the modalities to establish the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD). This is a process which aims to create greater transparency by sharing Member States information on future defence policy, capability development, budgets and investment. All 27 EU Member States, including Ireland, participate and contribute to the CARD process.

Ireland joined the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in 2017. The establishment of PESCO represents a further development in EU Cooperation in support of international peace and security under CSDP. Under PESCO, Member States come together in different groups to develop and make available additional capabilities and enablers for peacekeeping and crisis management operations. Ireland is currently participating in one PESCO project and is an observer on a further nine projects.

Ireland has participated in The EU Satellite Centre (EU SatCen) since 2007. The EU SatCen is an Agency working for the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union under the Political Supervision of the Political and Security Committee and the Operational Direction of the High Representative, which is governed by a Council Joint Action. In the international security and defence field, it handles sensitive and classified data to support CSDP military operations and civilian missions. The Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs contribute to the budget of the EU SatCen.

The European Defence Fund (EDF) is an industrial sectoral programme, providing funding for research and capability development, which supports the European Defence and Industrial Technology Base in delivering capabilities for Common Security Defence Policy operations. The fund is designed to foster innovation to address new security and defence challenges and allow economies of scale through greater industrial and research cooperation and enhancing the competitiveness of the EU defence industry. The EDF is funded within the Multi-annual Financial Framework which itself is funded directly by the Exchequer. Member State contributions to the EU Budget (Own Resources) are currently calculated annually by the EU Commission in line with the provisions outlined in Own Resources Decision (ORD) Regulation. As Ireland’s contributions go into the general pool of revenue that funds all EU budget expenditure, including the EDF, there is no defined cost to the Exchequer for the EDF.

Ireland contributes to the funding of common costs for EU military crisis management operations through the European Peace Facility (EPF). The EPF, established in March 2021, replaced the Athena Mechanism and the African Peace Facility. Under the EPF, the Department of Defence has responsibility for the financing of common costs relating to EU military operations under the EU's common security and defence policy (CSDP). The Department of Foreign Affairs has responsibility for the funding of African peace support operations, previously handled by the African Peace Facility, as well as Assistance Measures in order to provide assistance to individual countries and regional or sub-regional organisations. In 2020, the European Council agreed a €5bn financial ceiling for the EPF over the seven years of the 2021-2027 MFF. Actual spending of EPF funds require separate unanimous Council Decisions for each operation or assistance measure, such as the recent examples of the EPF Assistance Measures in support of Ukraine. An annual ceiling for each of the seven years is set out in the Council Decision establishing the EPF. Ireland’s contribution to EU Assistance Measures under the EPF is currently funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Strategic Compass, approved by foreign and defence ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council on 21 March 2022 and subsequently endorsed by EU Leaders at the European Council on 24-25 March, gives the European Union an ambitious plan of action for strengthening the EU's security and defence policy by 2030. The Strategic Compass is a means of setting out the EU's shared strategic vision for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and of enhancing the role of the EU in international peace and security. While discussions continue on the Implementation of the Strategic Compass, it should be noted that decision-making power in relation to its proposed actions remain a national competence. Ireland will continue to work with fellow Member States to ensure the ambitions of the document are realised.

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