On the 7th of December 2017, Dáil Éireann approved, 75 to 42, for Ireland to join the PESCO (permanent structured cooperation) initiative promising deeper EU cooperation on military affairs, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voting in favour, with all others opposing.
Broadly speaking, it would be neither hyperbolic nor hysterical to state flatly that the PESCO agreement marks the effective end of the long held policy of Irish neutrality. It’ll save us all a lot of time if we put aside our political caps for a moment and objectively analyse the contents of the agreement, as it could not be said to simply ameliorate or slightly undermine whatever residual neutrality remained to us to claim, it utterly abolishes it, despite the protestations of Europhilic apparatchiks.
The treaty, located here, contains the following broad points:
- A framework for future joint military operations outside of the EU
- Pooling of military equipment and joint training exercises
- Joint military research and development projects (which Ireland may opt-out of)
- Standardisation of equipment being produced and purchased within the EU
- Regular increases in defence spending
- Cooperation on cyber defence
- Improving the interoperability, availability and deployability of treaty states with one another and with NATO forces
- A commitment to developing a fast tracked decision making process to approve measures covered by the treaty including reviewing domestic procedures if necessary
- A national implementation plan to be submitted to the European Council
- Annual strategic review by an EU panel on the progress of implementation and compliance with Treaty objectives
Tánaiste Simon Coveney claimed in the opening address of the Dáil debate that, due to the opt-in/out nature of future military operations for treaty states, that Irish neutrality wouldn’t be affected. Considering Ireland has already been involved in joint European operations in the Mediterranean, along with our participation in the EU for training missions in Chad, it would be a bald faced lie to say Irish soldiers haven’t already been involved in European Union directed military missions, hidden under the aegis of “humanitarianism” or “peacekeeping”, the fact is, the bullets are real regardless of what title you’d like to give it. The Korean War was a “police action”, after all, and it would be no stretch of the imagination to foresee an EU “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, given that ISIS is regrouping there, in the vacuum created by EU/NATO powers. Most pertinently however, the treaty contemplates cooperation with NATO, but no other organisation, clearly locking signatories into the NATO/Atlanticist axis of global politics, which is, needless to say, irreconcilable with a policy of neutrality.
In any case, the material facts outside of this treaty speak volumes in themselves, which are neatly summed up by the Stockholm international peace institute:
“[Recent signals have been] suggesting that the EU is now moving towards deeper defence cooperation. Among these signals are:
Mogherini’s Implementation Plan focusing on Security and Defence, building on the EU Global Strategy. On this basis, the European Council agreed in December 2016, March and May 2017, to:
1) Deepen defence cooperation among the member states, including through the launch of a voluntary Coordinated Annual Review on Defence to enhance transparency and better synchronise member states defence planning through a yearly review to be conducted by the European Defence Agency;
2) The initial future governance structure of the Permanent Structured Cooperation, following its establishment, based on articles 42.6 and 46 and protocol 10 of the Treaties on the European Union;
3) To establish, as a short term objective, a Military Planning and Conduct Capability within the EU Military Staff of the European External Action Service (EEAS) which will assume the command over the EU’s non-executive military missions (i.e. not military operations), currently three EU training missions in the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia; and
4) Review the financial mechanism to facilitate the deployment of Battlegroups. The Council decided to review the Athena mechanism for the Battlegroups, to ensure rapid financing and ultimately deployment of the battlegroups.
The adoption of an EU-NATO Joint Declaration for cooperation on hybrid threats, operational cooperation, cyber security, defence capabilities, industry and research, exercises and capacity building. A first brief progress report on the implementation of the Joint Declaration included the first EU-NATO staffs exercise in response to a hybrid scenario and a commitment from the EU to contribute to NATO’s Capacity Building Programme aimed at strengthening good governance in the defence and security sectors.
The creation of a European Defence Fund, allocating €5.5 billion per year to defence research (directly from the EU budget) and capability development (co-financing from the EU budget). Although the fund has been agreed, it will not entail any new money and it has not been decided where the money will be taken from.
The launch of a reflection paper by the European Commission, laying out three possible future scenarios of EU CSDP depending on the level of ambition by member states: Defence & Security Cooperation; Shared Security & Defence; and Common Defence & Security.”
Further take into account the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which states that any joint military action taken under Article 42 of the Lisbon treaty (which outlines the EU Common Security and Defence Policy) must be in line with U.N. objectives and is subject to Dáil approval. So essentially, there’s a requirement to promise the sitting government jobs in Brussels after their term, and pay lip service to intentionally malleable concepts such as “defending human rights and democracy”, before Irishmen bleed in the service of foreign powers on foreign soil.
The decision to join PESCO is perhaps the culmination of years of undercutting Irish neutrality with the Irish defence forces having gradually started partaking in training exercises with NATO troops. Indeed the use of the Irish Navy in Operations Pontius and Sophia in essence ferrying migrants from the Mediterranean to Italian ports can just as much be seen as another step in the gradual integration of our defence forces into an EU wide defence initiative. Of perhaps particular note for those of us critical of this deployment are findings presented last July in a report to the UK House of Lords highlighting the shortcomings of the venture in merely incentivising the flow of people in less seaworthy vessels and on the whole contributing to the 43% to rise in deaths seen in 2016.
As Irish nationalists of a particular anti-globalist bent we can plainly see this decision as yet another milestone in the subsuming of Irish sovereignty into an EU wide system of legislative and political control. The very fact that segments of the Irish Defence Forces may welcome this decision as potentially overturning the sheer lack of investment in our defence is an indictment of successive governments to contemplate the defence of our country from a realistic manner. A nationalist government would regard those who take up the mantle of defending our country with the seriousness they deserve and will not outsource our defence to foreign and increasingly transnational powers. The arguments of left wing parties in objecting to this decision is made hallow by the fact they are equally as committed to the policies of globalism and the gradual erosion of decision making properties from the Irish people and their representatives to international bodies. The PESCO decision is perhaps the first result of the geopolitical imbalance caused by the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union and the certain degree of euro-realism it brought to the table. In future we should very much expect the ongoing trend of centralisation and euro federalism to intensify jeopardising the FDI dependent economic model that Ireland has embraced as well as binding us to an every increasingly detached European superstate.
In conclusion, if one scrutinises the legal texts, allocation of funds, geopolitical maneuverings and politicians’ rationalisations, or even blatant statements by leaders desiring an EU army, the only rational conclusion is that the EU is being marshalled to organise itself as a NATO subsidiary, with the principal of “ever closer union” in military as well as civilian affairs, to provide the American/Atlanticist power with more men to throw into conflicts in the Middle East, or, God forbid, a direct confrontation with Russia, to whit, any hot blooded Irishman can only reply “we serve neither Eurocrat nor Wall St., but Ireland!”.