PESCO is a mechanism provided for in the Treaty of the European Union to enable participating member States to come together and, on a project by project basis, jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in support of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions in support of international peace and security.
Now that we are participating in PESCO, the focus for Ireland will be on identifying key PESCO projects which can enhance the capability and capacity of the Defence Forces to successfully undertake modern complex UN mandated missions, including CSDP operations and on supporting interoperability in this regard.
Consideration is currently being given to the potential PESCO projects in which Ireland will participate. The work on elaborating the details of these project proposals and potential participants is currently on-going at EU level and Ireland is playing a full part in those deliberations. Once these deliberations have been completed the next step will be for a Council Decision to approve the first tranche of PESCO projects to be developed along with the project participants. It is anticipated that the Council will be in a position to take that decision in early March 2018.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is difficult at this juncture to make any predictions on costs associated with participation over the next five years. Any costs incurred by Ireland will be dependent on which projects Ireland chooses to participate in, and the provision of full project plans by the project leads. Project choices will take into account the on-going development of Defence Forces capabilities for peace support and crisis management operations. In any event, costs associated with the development of capabilities would be incurred in the normal course and will therefore be met from within the Defence Vote.