We have been in contact with our French counterparts on this issue and got assurances from them that there will not be any French vessels in the Irish exclusive economic zone, EEZ, during these exercises. It is important to differentiate between Irish territorial waters and the Irish EEZ, which involves international waters for which Ireland is responsible. They are different things. Ireland's territorial waters extend up to 12 nautical miles from our shore. Ireland exercises sovereignty within our territorial seas, subject to the relevant rules of international law. Military vessels of other states may not conduct exercises within territorial seas except with ministerial consent. Diplomatic clearance procedures are in place to consider requests for such permissions but such requests are rare.
In this case, it was not a request to come into Irish territorial waters. It was a notification to the Irish Aviation Authority regarding the potential for exercises off the coast of France to impact on a small portion of Ireland's EEZ. There is a big difference between those two things. We have expressed concern, as we have done previously, in respect of military exercises taking place within the EEZ. Countries are entitled to apply for that and it is not a breach of international law or anything. In the context of the EEZ, which is different from territorial waters, we are not entitled to refuse them without good reason. In this case, the relationship with France is particularly good. Obviously, we have spoken to the French authorities on the matter and I am happy that they confirmed there will not be any French vessels inside our EEZ and certainly not inside our territorial waters in the context of those exercises.