Committee Reports::Report - Report on European Union Security and Defence::23 May, 1995::Report
















































1.1The First Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs at its meeting held on 9 February 1994(in public) decided to undertake an in-depth review of EU Security and Defence issues. During that meeting the Joint Committee was briefed by Department of Foreign Affairs officials. It was also agreed that views should be sought from the general public by advertising in the public press.

1.2The Joint Committee also heard evidence from the Institute of European Affairs at its meeting of 23 February 1994. (Evidence taken by the Joint Committee is published separately.)

1.3On 15 June 1994 the Joint Committee had an exchange of views in (private) with Ambassadors of European Union Member States and on 29 June heard further evidence from the Institute of European Affairs. There was also an exchange of views (in private session) with the Ambassadors of Hungary, Turkey and the First Secretary of the Austrian Embassy.

1.4On 6 July 1994 the Joint Committee had an exchange of views with the Ambassadors of the Czech Republic and Sweden, as well as the Charge d’Affaires of Finland and Norway.

1.5The Joint Committee sought views from the public through advertisements in the public press in September 1994; the deadline for receipt of observations was 21 October 1994. A total of 34 replies were received (listed at Appendix A).

1.6The former Chairman met with representatives of the Institute of European Affairs in September 1994 with a view to discussing how best the latter might assist the Joint Committee in a consultative capacity. The Institute subsequently submitted a consultancy proposal to assist the Joint Committee and Professor Patrick Keatinge was retained, following approval of the proposal by the Department of Finance. (See paragraph 1.8 below).

1.7On 23 November 1994 the Joint Committee heard further evidence (in public) from the Department of Foreign Affairs and also from the Department of Defence.

1.8The Second Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, on its establishment, decided to complete the review of EU Security and Defence with a view to submitting its report, not only to both Houses of the Oireachtas, but also to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, as an input to the Government’s White Paper on Foreign Policy.

1.9The Joint Committee discussed E.U. Security and Defence as follows:


5 April 1995: A draft report was received from Professor Keatinge. It was agreed that the draft would be discussed in private session on 12 April.

12 April: Draft report discussed in Private Session.

20 April: Discussion resumed in Private.

26 April: Discussion resumed in Private.

3 May : Discussion deferred to the following meeting due to other business.

10 May : Discussion resumed in Private.

17 May : Discussion resumed in Private.

19 May : Discussion resumed in Public.

23 May : Discussion resumed in Public.

1.10The Joint Committee wishes to record its thanks to the Chairman of the former Joint Committee, Deputy Brian Lenihan and to the Members of that committee, for initiating the review and for the detailed work undertaken by that Committee during 1994.

1.11The Joint Committee also wishes to thank all those who assisted in any way in its consideration of EU Security and Defence. It is clear that the debate on the subject will be on-going, particularly in the lead up to the Inter-Governmental Conference in 1996 and the ratification of any treaty that may emerge.

1.12The Consultant’s report to the Joint Committee is attached at Appendix B and the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations are set out below at paragraphs 2.1 to 2.17 inclusive.

Conclusions and Recommendations

2.1Security, in the widest sense of the term, is a continuing concern for the Government of every State.

2.2Co-operation and effective action in assuring security are central concerns of world bodies (UN) and for regional groupings of States.

2.3Defence issues are treated as key foreign policy concerns by many States: they thus impinge on the conduct of foreign policy by all States.

2.4The Committee recommends, therefore, that security and defence issues be recognised explicitly as central concerns in Ireland’s external relations.

2.5The Committee recommends that it is in Ireland’s interest to adopt a strategy of constructive engagement in ongoing work to organise security through international institutions. It notes that Ireland subscribes to the declaration “Our Security is Indivisible” adopted by the CSCE Ministers at their annual meeting in Rome in December 1993.

The Global Framework (UN)

2.6The Committee considers the UN to be the only universal, and therefore the best available, source of legitimacy for collective action on security, in its widest sense. The Committee believes, however, that there are a great many shortcomings in the UN’s performance, notably (although not exclusively):

(i)deficiencies in the representative basis of the Security Council;

(ii)lack of efficiency and transparency in decision-making;

(iii)doubts about the Secretariat’s capacity in the conduct of peacekeeping operations;

(iv)inadequate co-ordination of operations in the field;

(v)inadequate funding, and particularly the failure of many States to pay their contributions on time or, in some cases, at all.

The Committee will examine these issues more deeply in a forthcoming report on Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement in the Light of UN Reform.

2.7The Committee believes that the UN requires a major improvement in its working relationship with regional organisations, where these are themselves capable of purposeful and co-ordinated action. Where they are not, the UN must develop its capacity to play a constructive role, while assisting in the development of appropriate regional structures.

2.8Because of its consistent history of support for UN action, Ireland is particularly well placed to contribute to this end. Irish foreign policy should therefore seek to influence its European partners in relation to the UN’s role and, in particular, in relation to the future evolution of peacekeeping and of peacemaking activities.

The Regional Framework (Europe)

2.9The OSCE, with its inclusive composition, non-coercive ethos and operational emphasis on long-term preventative measures provides a valuable overall regional framework for security policy. It is regarded as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. It includes States which are members of NATO, WEU, NACC, PFP, the Council of Europe and the EU.

2.10The Committee is not satisfied that complementarity between the OSCE and other regional organisations and the UN has been defined with sufficient clarity.

2.11The Committee recommends that the Intergovernmental Conference, in considering issues of Common Foreign and Security Policy, pay particular attention to the complementarity of roles as between the existing organisations, to the question of any necessary rationalisation of these roles, and to the consideration of institutional changes that might be required as a consequence. Ireland’s contribution, in particular, should focus on the roles of the UN and the EU.

2.12These issues are of central importance for the European Union because of its economic and political weight, and because of its attraction for the newly-emerged democracies of Central and Eastern Europe.

2.13The Committee reiterates recommendations 10.1 and 10.2 from its Report on the Enlargement of the European Union (PN 1081, 28 September 1994) as follows:

10.1The Joint Committee welcomes the conclusion of the accession negotiations with Austria, Sweden, Finland .......... Ireland shares with [these] countries a similarity of views on many international issues. In this context the Joint Committee recommends that Ireland should take a leading role in identifying areas of common interest with [these] countries, particularly on policies relative to peacekeeping and collective security, with a view to developing initiatives within the CFSP.

10.2The Joint Committee supports the continuation of the Enlargement process and endorses the present phased approach to Enlargement through negotiations with groups of European States at similar levels of development. The historic importance of the events which have taken place in Europe since 1989 makes relations with the former communist block the central challenge facing the Union in the 1990s and beyond. It is in the Union’s interest that the transition process in the East is successful. The common objective must be to integrate the former communist states into a continental wide system that ensures stability and security. The Joint Committee recommends that the Europe Agreements be seen as preparation for full membership and that the provisions of the Agreements be fully utilised. The Joint Committee welcomes the decision of the Corfu European Council to have a report drafted on how the Union can work with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to prepare a strategy for accession. It recommends that Ireland participate actively in the economic and social programmes designed for the preparatory process and thus lay down the foundations for durable and mutually productive relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

2.14The Committee recommends a strengthening of the EU’s partnership relationship with Russia and the Maghreb countries as a means of contributing further to stability in those regions.

2.15The Committee is conscious that the debate on the new security architecture dictated by the evolution of the security environment has only just begun.

It recommends the following as essential elements in Ireland’s participation in the debate which will precede the work of the IGC.

(a)Commitments to Nuclear non-Proliferation, Nuclear Disarmament, the reduction of conventional forces in Europe and to the reduction of trading in arms of all kinds must be reiterated.

(b)The capacity of the UN and of regional organisations to ensure security, to keep peace and to make peace must be reinforced.

(c)Both at global level and at European level, there must be a new analysis of threats to peace and security, as a necessary precursor of action to adapt the organisations now in place to the needs of the evolving security environment.

(d)While the Committee’s recommendations principally concern the work of the Intergovernmental Conference, debate is also taking place in the UN, the OSCE and in the WEU, where Ireland has observer status. Ireland should participate in the debate in each of these fora in a manner consistent with its status and with an open and constructive approach.

(e)There is a role that Ireland can and should play in the security of Europe. The Committee recommends that the European Union should build up elements of a common security policy of its own.

Policy Development Process

2.16As this debate continues, the Committee will produce further reports and opinions as appropriate.

2.17To ensure that this process is productive and also in the interests of a greater transparency in policy formulation, the Committee recommends

-that there be regular reporting by Government to the Oireachtas through the Committee at key points in the debate and at key points in the diplomatic calendar (e.g. prior to UNGA, European Councils, OSCE Ministerial meetings, commencement of the IGC);

-that there be fuller and more regular contacts between the Committee and parliamentary tiers of the OSCE and WEU and with parliamentary representatives involved with the UN;

-that a structure be set in place to keep the Committee briefed on the course of discussions in the IGC once it begins its work.

Alan M. Dukes TD


23 May, 1995