Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (82)

Ciarán Cuffe


207 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the expansion of the so-called Petersberg Tasks (details supplied) in the EU constitution into the fight against terrorism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25360/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

Article III — 309 of the European constitution updates and expands the Petersberg Tasks, which currently cover humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping and peacemaking, to include joint disarmament operations, military advice and assistance tasks and post-conflict stabilisation. The constitution makes clear that all these tasks may contribute to combating terrorism, including by supporting third countries in their efforts to tackle terrorism in their territories. This is in keeping with the obligations placed on all member states of the United Nations, under UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

The Government supported the expansion of the Petersberg Tasks during negotiations on the constitution and very much welcomes the Union's capacity to make a meaningful contribution to global peace and security through these tasks. The threat of terrorism is a serious one both for Europe and for our partners outside the EU. We need to ensure that the Union does its utmost to assist in countering this threat.

Indeed, the Union's objectives in this regard have been clearly set out in the European Council declaration on combating terrorism of March 2004 which was co-ordinated under the Irish Presidency. The declaration represents the Union's most comprehensive strategy statement to date and includes measures relating to the sharing of intelligence, the financing of terrorism, protecting populations and transport infrastructure, assistance to victims and international co-operation.

The declaration was formulated in the wake of the horrific bombings in Madrid on 11 March. In specific response to these, the European Council also agreed to the immediate implementation of the terms of the solidarity clause subsequently enshrined in the European constitution. This was an important political message that acts of terrorism represent an attack on the values on which the Union is founded and will be dealt with in a spirit of solidarity by the member states of the Union.