Tag Archives: EU Army

Free Friday?

A public meeting about  PESCO (Permanent European Structured Cooperation), an EU defence’ agency, and its implications for Irish neutrality.

At the Central Hotel, Donegal Town, County Donegal at 7pm.

Luke Ming Flanagan MEP writes:

“There is an urgency to talk about the ramping up of military projects in the European Union. Ireland as a neutral country should not be aligning ourselves with imperial powers in Europe. I look forward to exploring this and other implications in Donegal this Friday”.

Luke ‘Ming Flanagan (Facebook)

Previously: PESCO on Broadsheet

From top: Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron arive for the signing of a new Franco-German ‘friendship treaty’ in Aachen, Germany yesterday; a Eurobarometer poll from 2017

Given that many feel the agreement in Aachen is a step towards an EU army, do countries actually support such a concept?

The most recent Eurobarometer poll on the subject was conducted in 2017 with 74 percent of respondents in the Netherlands and Belgium supporting an EU army. In France and Germany, the share of in favor stood at 65 and 55 percent respectively.

Elsewhere in the EU’s neutral countries, support was 45 percent in Austria, 46 percent in Ireland, 42 percent in Finland, 55 percent in Malta and just 40 percent in Sweden.

After Historic Franco-German Treaty, How High Is Support For An EU Army? (Niall McCarthy, Forbes)

Where Support Is Highest For An EU Army (Niall McCarthy, Statista)

Otis Blue writes:

So 46% of Irish people support an EU army?


Neutrality!
Fight!

Monday: Mission Creep

Pic: Getty

Graph: Statista

From top; Mario Blokken, head of Finabel, has said he has met representatives of the Irish Defence Forces

Via the office Luke Ming Flanagan MEP:

‘Meetings have taken placed between a member of the Defence Forces and Finabel, the European Interoperability Centre, according to documents releasedu nder Freedom of Information.

Emails outline preparations for a meeting on Monday 17th September 2018 at the office of the Irish Permanent Representative in Brussels, between Mr Mario Blokken, Finabel Permanent Secretariat, and the MILREP (Military Representative) of the Defence Forces.

More documents show that on the 22nd November 2018, the Irish Military Representative attended the Finabel “Annual Address to the European Military Representatives”, where representatives from the 22 countries were also in attendance.

Speaking to Mr. Flanagan’s office by phone, Mr Mario Blokken confirmed that meetings had taken place with a member of the Irish Defence Forces.

He went on to say the meeting went “well” and that he expected Defence Forces Ireland to apply first for observer status, and later for full membership of Finabel.

A separate Freedom of Information request revealed that Ireland is participating in ten PESCO projects and that the Department of Defence considers that Irish participation in EU military projects such as EU Battlegroups “contributes to our overall credibility in the Union”.

Founded in 1953, Finabel describes itself as “an informal international de facto association” initially focussing on cooperation between armament programmes, but now involved in “the harmonisation of army doctrines”. 22 member states of the EU are currently members of Finabel.

Previously Ireland had only stated its involvement in two PESCO projects, and no further update had been given.’

Previously: EU Army on Broadsheet

Luke Ming Flanagan said:

“The Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Leo Varadkar needs to tell us why it is in Ireland’s interest to turn away from our traditional position of military neutrality and voluntarily involve ourselves in this growing imperial project. Even our newly elected President, Michael D Higgins has said that the government has not done enough to explain this decision.”

Luke Ming Flanagan

From top: Luke’ Ming’ Flanagan addresses a public meeting in NUI Galway on the increasing militarisation of the EU; Ciaran Tierney

On a cold Thursday night in November, a few dozen of us congregated in a beautiful but obscure new lecture hall on the western outskirts of the sprawling campus at NUI Galway.

Two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), four TDs, academics, and peace activists had gathered for a lively and informative three hour discussion which garnered little or no media attention.

I know, because I asked three news editors in advance of the meeting if they would be interested in a piece. Not one of them even replied.

The subject of the meeting was the thorny question of whether or not Ireland is being steamrolled into joining a European Union army since PESCO – Permanent European Security/ Military Co-Operation – was rushed through the Dail last December.

In theory at least, Ireland is a “neutral” country. Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, the Independent MEP, called the Galway meeting in response to growing alarm over what PESCO actually means to Ireland.

Are we on our way to becoming part of a European ‘Super State’?

Is our military spending going to increase dramatically to €6 billion per year (or half of what we spend on our desperate health service) because of something our country signed up to with so little debate last year?

Does anybody care?

It is astounding that we hear so much about Brexit on the national airwaves every day, because Britain’s shambolic departure from the EU has such massive implications for Ireland, but we hear little or nothing about the contentious issue of a European Army.

Are ‘Ming’ and the Independent TDs just alarmist crackpots? Is it really acceptable that unelected EU officials can lead us toward the formation of a ‘super’ army to rival those of the USA and Russia in the future?

And why, oh why, are so few Irish people talking about this?

Perhaps Irish neutrality is a sham, but shouldn’t we at least discuss this issue?

In Shannon last week, the important Shannonwatch peace group noted that a US military plane stopped off in a civilian airport on its way to and from Tel Aviv.

Nobody in authority Shannon ever checks the contents of the US military machines which have been landing there each and every week since 2001.

Last year, over 61,000 US troops stopped off in Shannon on their way to and from wars in the Middle East. That might mean a hell of a lot of leprechaun and whiskey sales in the duty free shop, but it also makes a mockery of the concept of Irish neutrality.

If it wasn’t so serious, Irish people would be laughing over Brexit and the shambolic way in which pro-Brexit politicians in Britain, in their jingoistic haste to leave the EU, seem to have had no vision for the future.

Perhaps reform, rather than withdrawal, might be the correct response to an undemocratic, unaccountable Europe; but at least in Britain they have had some sort of debate about the EU and their country’s place in it.

The Irish, meanwhile, see ourselves as “model” Europeans even though it was our EU masters who forced us into the “bank bailout”, with devastating implications in terms of the loss of public service jobs, health care and welfare cuts, the privatisation of state assets, and a new wave of emigration at the start of this decade.

Not to mention the huge debt our country has been saddled with for years to come.

Now PESCO, according to the Independent TDs and MEPs, will see Ireland being steamrolled into an EU Army and it is quite amazing how little talk there is about this in Ireland.

“We have to work on a vision of creating a real true European Army,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the formation of a “real” European Army during the Armistice Day commemorations last weekend.

On Tuesday, the European Commission said that a European Army is “likely” to be formed one day.

So the Galway conference this week seemed to be extremely timely.

“Does PESCO damage our neutrality?” asked Catherine Connolly TD. “Yes, it does. We are normalising war and the militarisation of Europe. PESCO was not discussed in our Dail. The good news is that 42 of us voted against it. Language has been stood on its head. We are heading towards a militarised Europe.”

She said that Irish soldiers have to rely on family income supplement in order to survive, in the middle of unprecedented crises in health care and housing.

Deputy Connolly pointed out that the head of the European Commission has never been elected by anyone and spoke of how uncomfortable she felt when he was given a reverential reception in the Dail.

A Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes, has called for the “redefinition” of neutrality and both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have denied that PESCO will impact on Irish neutrality.

Independent MEP Flanagan has described the massive global arms industry as an “untapped goldmine” in the eyes of the European Union.

Just as US President Donald Trump feels that punishing human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia would only be foolish if it damaged his country’s $110 billion arms trade with Riyadh, perhaps the Irish should be far more honest with ourselves.

Does our ‘neutrality’ mean anything when we get a chance to cosy up to and find favour with the world’s military powers?

Do we want to stand beside the French and Germans as they, too, aim to become global powers?

Perhaps, ultimately, the vast sums of money to be made from militarisation are far more important than the human rights of children in Syria, Palestine, Yemen or Afghanistan as the US military aircraft land and take off from Shannon Airport with total impunity every week.

“When you question why they are militarising the European Union, you must understand that this is not to protect or defend you,” said Flanagan. “It is about money . . . and billions of it.”

Next time you have a loved-one lying on a hospital trolley for 48 hours, or finding it impossible to find an affordable place to live, remember that PESCO is set to increase Ireland’s military expenditure six times over.

Sometimes, when you look at the stories which are creating headlines, it’s just as informative to check out which stories are being ignored.

When a ‘neutral’ former colony wants to be part of a new global super-power, when arms sales are more important than human lives, language truly has been stood on its head.

Neutrality means next to nothing when we have dollar signs in our eyes.

Neutrality means nothing when we have dollar signs in our eyes (Ciaran Tierney)