19. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which he expects the Defence Forces to be in a position to avail of extra training and upgrading of facilities to best international level through PESCO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3375/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): 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.

Now that we are participating in PESCO, the focus for Ireland will be on identifying key PESCO projects which can 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 a full part in those deliberations. Once these deliberations have been completed the next step will be for a Council Decision to approve the first tranche of PESCO projects to be developed. At this juncture it is anticipated that the Council will be in a position to take that decision in March 2018.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it may take some time from the initiation of individual projects through to their completion for the capabilities or benefits to become available to Member States, including Ireland.