Written Answers. - Common Foreign and Security Policy.

John Gormley

Question:

50 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in the General Affairs Council on 17 June 2002 where decisions were taken regarding the financing of EU military operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14810/02]

The General Affairs Council on 17 June 2002 finalised a general framework for financing of possible future military crisis management operations. Ireland participated actively in the negotiations on the framework and our key concerns have been fully met.

In Ireland's approach to the negotiations, particular attention was drawn to the general principle, reflected in the conclusions of successive European Councils, that participation in EU crisis management operations is voluntary. It was also made clear that Ireland's approach to participation in military crisis management missions is on a case by case basis and subject to UN authorisation.

The framework now reached provides that the majority of the costs of participation in an EU-led military crisis management operation will be on a costs lie where they fall basis, that is, that member states will only be responsible for costs incurred through the participation of their own military forces in crisis management activities. This is already the financial basis for our existing participation in the UN-authorised peace support operations in Bosnia – SFOR – and Kosovo – KFOR. Additionally, any common costs that arise are to be limited to specific categories such as multinational headquarters costs and associated expenditure.

I should emphasise that this framework for financing places no automatic commitments upon Ireland in terms of actual expenditure. This, as well all other aspects of possible Irish involvement in an EU military crisis management operation, will depend on the sovereign decision by Ireland in accordance with the triple lock provisions of Government decision, approval by Dáil Éireann and UN authorisation which are set out in our national legislation.

In short, the framework provides for Ireland to take one of three alternative approaches in relation to any EU military crisis management operation agreed by the EU Council. This situation fully safeguards our position and ensures that we would not end up financing an EU-led operation which does not meet with our approval. The options are:
(i) we decide to participate in which case we pay "costs lie where they fall" and contribute to the common costs that would arise, or,
(ii) we decide not to participate but are prepared to contribute towards the common costs for the operation, or,
(iii) we decide not to participate, abstain on the Council decision, and make a declaration under Article 23.1 of the Treaty on European Union in which case we would have no obligation to contribute to the financing of the operation.
It has been agreed that more detailed work will be required during the forthcoming Danish EU Presidency to finalise a range of outstanding issues. Provision is made for review of arrangements by June 2004 at the latest. In the meantime, I am glad to advise the Deputy that a copy of the framework for financing agreed by the General Affairs Council has been placed in the Oireachtas library.