Today, 23.10.03 the Peace and Neutrality Alliance calls on the Irish Government to insist that the military powers in the new draft EU Constitution are substantially amended at the upcoming EU Intergovernmental Conference in October. Otherwise, PANA will be joining with many other organisations and individuals to campaign for rejection of the EU Constitution in the subsequent referendum.
The EU Constitution as it stands represents an EU with a strong military dimension, closely aligned with a nuclear military bloc (NATO), and committed to increased arms spending and support for the arms industry. It also takes several giant steps towards a fully fledged military alliance, armed not just with a military capacity but with mutual solidarity commitments and, in some cases, mutual defence commitments between Member States, all within the structures of the European Union. There is no room for a neutral state in such a Union.
PANA is concerned with a number of provisions, including the following:
There will be a greatly strengthened EU Foreign Minister who will oversee a Foreign Affairs Council and be assisted by a European External Action Service (an EU Foreign Service). He/she will also serve as a Vice President of the Commission, handling all the Commission’s external affairs. Any hopes of Ireland ever pursuing an independent foreign policy, which is imperative for any active and positive Irish neutrality, will be further diminished if not eliminated. (Title IV: Article 27)
Member States are obliged to make civilian and military capabilities available to the EU’s common security and defence. (Title V: Article 40.3)
"Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities". This will require Ireland to increase its arms spending, a particularly alarming prospect given the state of the Irish economy and Irish public services, and the levels of poverty existing in Ireland and internationally. (Title V. Article 40.3)
A European Armaments, Research and Military Capabilities Agency is to be established. It will be directed at improving the EU’s military capabilities and strengthening the "industrial and technological base of the defence sector". The EU was founded on the principle of peaceful and beneficial cooperation between States, some of whom were former enemies in war. For the EU Constitution to now promote the military approach to resolving conflicts is to undermine much of what the EU has achieved through cooperative methods. (Title V. Article 40.3)
Enhanced Cooperation is introduced into the defence area for the first time. The Government made much of the fact, during the Nice Treaty debate, that enhanced cooperation (which could lead to a two-tier EU) did not apply to defence. This new provision will allow States to form mini-military alliances, using the EU’s institutions, and to engage in military alliances, using the EU’s institutions, and to engage in military operations in the name of the EU. (Title V. Article 40.6)
One element of this new enhanced cooperation in defence is that certain member states "shall" establish mutual defence agreements within the Union framework until the EU itself has agreed a common defence. The formula given in the draft Constitution for an automatic military response to any attack is from Article 5 of the Western European Union’s military treaty. The EU Constitution also states that those states involved in this enhanced cooperation on mutual defence "shall work in close cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation". (Title V. Article 40.7)
A Solidarity Clause has been inserted into the Constitution, stating that Member States and the Union shall act jointly against terrorism and disasters, enabling the Union to mobilise all instruments at its disposal, including military resources. This is a very broad mandate for it covers the threat of terrorism as well as an actual terrorist attack. Such a blank cheque would have, for example, allowed Ireland to become involved in attacking Iraq or Afghanistan. This clause is yet another building block in the construction of an EU military alliance. (Title V. Article 42)
PANA calls on the Government to work for the removal of these constitutional article directed at militarising the EU.
PANA also, once again, calls on the Government to negotiate a Protocol similar to that of Denmark which will exempt Ireland from the military aspects of the EU. Such a Protocol is provided for in Article IV – 6 of the Constitution: ("The Protocols annexed to this Treaty shall form an integral part thereof"). During the last referendum, we were told it was too late to seek such an opt-out. What better time to negotiate such an agreement than when a new EU Constitution is being written? Such a Protocol will continue to remain a principal demand of PANA.
Roger Cole (Chair)
Peace & Neutrality Alliance.