State likely to join new EU military co-operation mechanism

Pesco projects likely to range from peacekeeping operations to weapons research

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, centre, with EU foreign and defence ministers after signing the notification on Pesco

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, centre, with EU foreign and defence ministers after signing the notification on Pesco

 

The Government has decided to join a new EU military structure that will allow the Defence Forces to co-operate with other armies in military missions around the world.

Ministers agreed at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to ask the Dáil to approve Ireland’s membership of the EU’s new permanent structured co-operation (Pesco) mechanism.

A vote will take place in the coming weeks.

Independent Ministers had raised concerns about the implications for Ireland’s neutrality, but a spokeswoman said they were now happy with the briefings they had received from the Department of Defence.

Pesco projects are likely to range from peacekeeping operations under the EU flag to co-operation in weapons research. All projects will be voluntary, meaning countries can opt in or out according to their own wishes.

However, joining Pesco also requires states to increase their military spending. Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this was a good idea because the Defence Forces would need to replace equipment and increase pay.

Pooling military procurement, one of the objectives of the agreement, would reduce the costs of new equipment, the Government believes.