142. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the benefits for Ireland of the decision to sign up to PESCO; the impact this will have for members of the Defence Forces in County Kildare and nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3264/18 asked on 23 Jan 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 the evolution of these initiatives.
Now that we are participating in PESCO the focus for Ireland will be on identifying key PESCO projects which 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. Consideration is currently being given to the potential PESCO projects in which Ireland will participate. The work on elaborating the details of these project proposals and potential participants is currently ongoing at EU level and Ireland is playing its full part in those deliberations.
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, it will benefit the men and women of our Defence Forces, from all across the country including Co. Kildare.
When the Defence Forces deploy overseas our men and women never do so alone. We always work in close cooperation with other countries deployed on such operations. PESCO is also a means of enhancing interoperability with our future project partners, something that will be of great benefit for our troops on future missions overseas.