Minister Cowen announces joint Irish, Finnish, Swedish and Austrian Proposal on EU Defence
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T. D., today announced a joint initiative by Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Austria aimed at amendment of the mutual defence clause in the draft Constitutional Treaty as proposed by the Italian Presidency.
The Minister said:
“As a member of the EU, Ireland is committed in a spirit of mutual solidarity to cooperating with our partners. In that spirit, I have today, together with the Foreign Ministers of Finland, Sweden and Austria, proposed alternative language on the mutual defence issue under consideration in the IGC
We fully respect those partners who are committed to automatic mutual defence arrangements. Equally, we would hope that partners respect the different security policy traditions of Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Austria which makes it impossible for us to accept the Presidency proposal as currently drafted.”
The joint proposal (copy attached at annex) reflects Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Austria's shared desire for agreement on EU Treaty provisions which would be consistent with our respective security policies and constitutional requirements.
Our proposal suggests the following wording for Art I-40.7:
If a Member State is victim of armed aggression, it may request that the other Member States give it aid and assistance by all the means in their power, military or other, in accordance with art 51 of the UN Charter.
This would ensure appropriate solidarity between EU Member States but at the same time remove any implication of automaticity. Provision of such assistance, military or otherwise, would thereby remain for sovereign decision by national governments in accordance with their respective security policy or constitutional requirements. For members of NATO, NATO commitments would continue to apply.
The counter-proposal is being put forward in a positive and constructive spirit in the hope that it will allow agreement to be reached on this particular aspect of the draft Treaty over the coming week. Ireland and its fellow neutral and non-aligned Member States will also be cooperating on other aspects of the Presidency's text.
In Ireland's case, as has been made clear on successive occasions, we cannot participate in a common or mutual defence arrangement unless approved by the people in a referendum.
Note for Editors:
The Italian Presidency proposal for Article-I 40.7 as put forward at the Naples IGC Conclave reads as follows:
Closer cooperation on mutual defence
If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under NATO, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.