Seville Declarations on the Nice Treaty
The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern T.D., accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D., presented Ireland's National Declaration on military neutrality at the European Council meeting in Seville today. A European Council Declaration on Ireland's policy of neutrality was also agreed by Partners at the meeting. A copy of both documents is available from this site.
The purpose of the Declarations is to make clear, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Treaty of Nice poses no threat to Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality. The Declarations confirm that this understanding is shared by all 15 EU Member States. This is in full conformity with the Government's position on ratification of the Treaty of Nice.
The National Declaration reaffirms Ireland's continued attachment to its traditional policy of military neutrality and confirms, in line with this policy, that (i) Ireland is not party to any mutual defence commitment; (ii) that Ireland is not party to any plans to develop a European army; and (iii) that Ireland will take a sovereign decision, on a case by case basis, on whether the Defence Forces should participate in humanitarian or crisis management tasks undertaken by the EU, based on the triple lock of UN authorisation, Government decision and approval by Dáil Éireann.
The National Declaration also makes clear that Ireland will not adopt any decision taken by the European Council to move to a common defence, or ratify any future Treaty which would involve a departure from the traditional policy of military neutrality, unless it has first been approved by the Irish people in a referendum.
The European Council Declaration confirms that Ireland's policy of military neutrality is in full conformity with the Treaties, including the Treaty of Nice, and that there is no obligation arising from the Treaties which would oblige Ireland to depart from that policy.
The Government is confident that publication of the Declarations will allay concerns expressed during the first Nice referendum campaign that Ireland's policy of military neutrality is affected by the Treaty of Nice. In the event of Ireland's ratification of the Treaty of Nice, the National Declaration will be associated with Ireland's instrument of ratification and forwarded to the United Nations.