63. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the scale of Ireland’s involvement in the European Union Training Mission Competence Centre and Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance to be developed under PESCO and which were formally adopted by the EU Council on 1 March 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12883/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018)
Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As the Deputy is aware PESCO is a mechanism provided for in the Treaty of the European Union to enable participating member States to come together and, on a project by project basis, jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in support of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions in support of international peace and security.
Ireland is a strong proponent of the important role the EU can play in support of international peace and security and the UN. It is important therefore to remain fully engaged in all CSDP processes. Fully participating in these developments ensures that we have a voice and that we can influence their evolution.
Since Ireland joined PESCO in December 2017 the focus has been to identify key PESCO projects which will enhance the capability and capacity of the Defence Forces to successfully undertake modern complex UN mandated missions, including CSDP operations and on supporting interoperability in this regard. With that in mind I have confirmed Ireland’s participation in two PESCO projects - (1) The European Union Training Mission Competence Centre and (2) Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance. The Council Decision of the 6th March reflected Ireland’s participation in these projects.
The European Union Training Mission Competence Centre project is a ‘train the trainers’ initiative that aims to improve the availability, interoperability, specific skills and professionalism across participating Member States of personnel (trainers) for EU training missions. The project is being led by Germany and it will accelerate the provision for EU training missions due to a higher situational awareness regarding trained, educated and available personnel for current and future EU training missions. This is a capability that the Irish Defence Forces continually develop and it is compatible with their efforts in this area.
The Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance project aims to integrate land-based surveillance systems, maritime and air platforms in order to distribute real-time information to Member States, so as to provide a timely and effective response in the international waters. This project is being led by Greece and the main objective is to enhance the Maritime Surveillance, Situational Awareness and potential Response Effectiveness of the EU, by using the existing infrastructure, deploying assets and developing related capabilities in the future. It aims to address timely and effectively new and old threats and challenges (such as energy security, environmental challenges, security and defence aspects); thus ensuring accurate Awareness and Rapid Response, so as to contribute to the protection of the EU and its citizens. This is a capability development area that the Naval Service has already invested in through the MarSur project in the European Defence Agency and this project should develop this expertise further.
The project leads for both these projects are currently developing the full scope of the projects and accordingly the scale of participants involvement has as yet not been determined. The inaugural meeting for the Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance project has been scheduled for the 29th March where further discussions will take place regarding Member States involvement.
The project on EU Training Missions Competence Centre is still at conceptual stage and as such no initial meetings have been scheduled yet.
To the extent that PESCO is designed to provide more effective delivery of enhanced military capability for CSDP crisis management operations at the highest level, I am confident that both projects will benefit the men and women of our Defence Forces.