The European Council in December 2013 will include a thematic discussion on security and defence issues. The European Council on 13-14 December 2012 adopted conclusions inviting the High Representative, notably through the European External Action Service and the European Defence Agency, as well as the Commission, all acting in accordance with their respective responsibilities and cooperating closely as required, to develop further proposals and actions to strengthen CSDP and improve the availability of the required civilian and military capabilities, and to report on such initiatives, at the latest by September 2013, with a view to the December 2013 European Council. The European Council underlined three issues: increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP; enhancing the development of defence capabilities; and strengthening Europe’s defence industry. Discussions on these three areas have been ongoing during the Irish Presidency of the European Council at ministerial and official level. Last month my colleague the Minister for Defence hosted a seminar in Dublin the theme of which was December’s European Council. At the May Foreign Affairs Council, Foreign Ministers had a discussion on CSDP in the context of preparations for December’s European Council. During that discussion I highlighted the importance of providing a clear foreign policy direction to the December European Council discussions, and to ensuring that the EU had the capabilities it needed to carry out its activities under CSDP. I also stressed that the role of civilian CSDP Missions should form a component of discussions at the European Council. High Representative Ashton will produce report on these initiatives by September and the European Commission will issue a Communication on a Global Strategy for strengthening Europe’s Defence Industry shortly. These documents will form the basis for debate of the conclusions for the European Council.
Member States will continue to remain closely involved in this process. Ireland’s approach will continue to be framed by the considerations which are set out in the “Protocol on the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon”. This Protocol states clearly that the EU’s common security and defence policy does not prejudice the security and defence policy of each Member State, including Ireland, or the obligations of any Member State, and that the Treaty of Lisbon does not affect or prejudice Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality.