Dáil Éireann - Volume 533 - 28 March, 2001

Written Answers. - EU-NATO Relationship.

70. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Defence his views on the working relationship outlined between NATO and the European Union in the Annexes of the Declarations at Nice, particularly in Annex VII, Standing Arrangements for Consultation and Co-operation between the EU and NATO. [9079/01]

[998] Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The involvement of NATO in ESDP stems from the fact that, as it develops capabilities for the conduct of Petersberg Tasks, the EU, which is not a military organisation, is likely to remain dependent on NATO infrastructural and transport capacity, as the UN – mandated operations such as SFOR and KFOR have shown.

Against this background, the relevant annexes to the French Presidency's Report to Nice further define the principles underpinning EU-NATO consultation arrangements and reiterate general principles agreed at Feira on the decision-making autonomy of each organisation and on non-discrimination against any state. The annexes to the report also make clear that consistency with the planning and review process, PARP, of Partnership for Peace, PfP, is a requirement of any future EU-NATO arrangements.

At the General Affairs Council on 22 January, agreement was reached on the frequency of EU-NATO meetings at ministerial level, of which there will be at least one per EU Presidency, and at the level of EU Political and Security Committee-North Atlantic Council Ambassadors, of which there will be at least three per Presidency. The first such PSC-NAC meeting under the Swedish Presidency took place on 5 February and a further meeting took place on 14 March which allowed for discussion of events in the Presevo valley region in Kosovo. Ireland approaches the EU-NATO relationship as a dimension of ESDP and places importance on the principles agreed at Feira of non-discrimination between member states and autonomy of decision-making by both organisations.

Detailed discussions have been taking place between the EU and NATO on the modalities for the use of NATO assets by the EU in carrying out specific Petersberg tasks where the EU does not itself have adequate capabilities. In this context, it is envisaged that the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, DSACEUR, would have a co-ordinating role between the EU and NATO on the allocation of NATO resources for a specific operation.

The command arrangements for an EU-led operation would be for the EU to decide and the EU would maintain the political control of any operation using NATO assets and capabilities. Moreover, I would emphasise that Irish involvement in operations where the EU and NATO co-operate will only occur where our peacekeepers act under a UN mandate. In common with the other neutral and non-aligned EU countries, Ireland has placed importance on the role of PfP, and the planning and review process, PARP, in particular, as a mechanism to facilitate planning for the headline goal, and that all EU member states should have an equal input in planning for the Petersberg tasks. Participation by Ireland in any Petersberg mission remains a sovereign decision to be taken by the Government. The Government will decide on a case by case basis whether, when and how to commit either troops [999] or other resources. Ireland will only participate in missions authorised by the United Nations.

To conclude, I reiterate that Ireland's ongoing participation in the development of European security and defence policy is fully consistent with our policy of neutrality and our commitment to international peace and security. We therefore approach this task in a positive and constructive spirit.