74. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the process by which the Government decided to join PESCO. (Question 51717/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As the Deputy is aware, the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy was published in June 2016. The strategy sets the context and provides a guiding framework for the Union’s external action under the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Strategy also identifies key security challenges facing the European Union within its neighbourhood and beyond, and commits to a global order based on international law with the United Nations at its centre. Within the provisions of the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), the strategy commits the Union to take greater responsibility for its own security and to enhance its capacity to contribute to international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Following its publication, a comprehensive approach to implementation, including in the area of security and defence, is now being progressed. As part of that implementation process, in June 2017, the European Council agreed to launch an inclusive and ambitious PESCO, as provided for in the Treaty on European Union, and to draw up a common list of criteria and binding commitments, within three months.

Over the past several months, there has been significant engagement by all member States in the development of PESCO as is now set out in the PESCO Notification. This included extensive discussions at official level through meetings of the Political-Military Group, the Political and Security Committee, and Defence Policy Directors and at Ministerial level at meetings of Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers. Ireland participated fully in these discussions, shaping the development of PESCO and the provisions in the Notification in a manner which ensured that PESCO was both inclusive and ambitious, fully recognising the differing defence policies of the member States as provided for in the treaties and their protocols.

The final version of the PESCO ‘Notification’ was agreed by EU Member States on 13 November, 2017. Following that agreement a Memorandum for Government was prepared. Government approval was given on 21 November, 2017, for Ireland’s participation in PESCO, and, for the moving of a motion in Dáil Éireann to approve Ireland’s participation in PESCO, pursuant to section 3 of the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Following approval by Dáil Éireann on 07 December, 2017, and pursuant to Article 46(1) of the Treaty on European Union, Ireland then notified the Council and the High Representative, in her capacity as President of the Foreign Affairs Council and as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, of Ireland’s intention to participate in PESCO.