Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Recently, I attended an interparliamentary conference in Rome. If the Minister had been there, he would have been disturbed to hear the language coming from our Italian hosts. They were essentially talking about a European army and the ability of Europe to intervene in the same way as the United States intervenes at the moment. They were not talking about having a common defence policy in the short term, but they obviously want to have such a policy in the long term. In addition, they said that we need to gradually create a European army.
On 12 September 2013, a European Parliament resolution referred to efforts within the Council to increase the flexibility and usability of battle groups, transfer of authority and removal of national caveats. That would basically remove Ireland’s veto over the deployment of battle groups. That was the language being used not just by the Italians but also by members of other parliaments. I tried to insert language in the communiqué of that conference to mention Irish neutrality and our insistence that there would not be a European army. We have a triple lock mechanism, so we do not and will not deploy our troops unless there is a UN mandate to do so. That was resisted, however.
Worse again is talk in the European Parliament about removing Ireland’s national caveat, that is, our veto over the deployment of troops. They were even talking about having a blank cheque, basically, the ability to get a resolution passed for the deployment of troops on undetermined future missions for unspecified causes. I do not know how the European Parliament passed a resolution talking about the transfer of authority and the removal of national caveats, but it certainly did.
Chairman: Can we have a question, if the Senator does not mind?
Senator Mark Daly: Could the Minister raise that matter with his colleagues in the Council? In future, all language in such resolutions should refer to Irish neutrality, which they refused to insert in that resolution.