58. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the establishment of a joint EU military headquarters; his further views on the increased militarisation of the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39832/16 asked on 13 Dec 2016)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The proposal being advanced is not of an EU joint military headquarters but rather the development of a joint civil/military operational headquarters, which can support the effective planning and operations of CSDP operations. As I previously advised the House, there have been proposals around for some time, that the EU should establish a joint operational headquarters to support the planning and conduct of its civil and military operations. A permanent joint civil-military operational headquarters, appropriately configured, could potentially deliver more effective and responsive CSDP operations in support of the UN and international peace and security, a position which Ireland supports.

This is a matter which EU Member States, including Ireland, will consider in the context of the Council Conclusions of 14 November on implementing the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. Ireland will participate fully in that process and in the ongoing development of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in support of the UN and international peacekeeping and crisis management.

Current proposals are designed to improve the effectiveness of operational planning and conduct capacity within the EU for both civil and military operations under CSDP. I do not believe that that represents an increase in or a move towards militarisation of the EU. The Lisbon Treaty provides that the Common Security and Defence Policy “shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on assets civil and military. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using the capabilities provided by the Member States”.

I am satisfied that the issue of having an effective joint planning and operational capacity to support CSDP civil and military operations is one which is reasonable to consider in this regard, particularly having regard to the EU’s comprehensive approach to international crises.