By : Luke Ming Flanagan
I woke up this Thursday morning to the worrying headline – ‘Cabinet Gives Green Light To Join EU Plan For Shared Security’. Fitting, I thought, as I headed into the Brussels dusk to join an early-morning protest against a meeting between European High Commissioner Mogherini and representatives of the European arms industry.
That EU plan is known as ‘PESCO, Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence’, and in the Commission’s own Fact Sheet is described as follows:
‘TOWARDS MORE SECURITY FOR THE EU AND ITS CITIZENS
In light of a changing security environment, the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) started a process of closer cooperation in security and defence. Member States agreed to step up the European Union’s work in this area and acknowledged that enhanced coordination, INCREASED INVESTMENT IN DEFENCE (my emphasis) and cooperation in developing defence capabilities are key requirements to achieve it.
This is the main aim of a Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO), as outlined in the Treaty of the EU, Articles 42 (6) and 46, as well as Protocol 10. Through PESCO, Member States increase their effectiveness in addressing security challenges and ADVANCING TOWARDS FURTHER INTEGRATING AND STRENGTHENING DEFENCE COOPERATION (my emphasis again) within the EU framework.’
The Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe claims that all this ‘would pose no challenge to our neutrality’, which begs the question – what planet is Paul living on?
THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE
This is all part of the drive towards what is euphemistically called ‘ever-closer union’ but which in fact is the drive towards a United States of Europe (USE), a militarised USE, a power to rival the USA, China, Russia.
Driving this so-called ‘defence’ element of that union is the massive but under-publicised European arms industry. According to the anti-war group Vredesactie, since 2014 the European Commission has had AT LEAST 46 meetings with European arms industry representatives, the paw-marks of their lobbyists all over recent legislation on ‘defence and security’ budgets.
In 2004-06, the amount in grants for security and defence research was just €6.5million; from 2020 onwards, and this is boasted about by the Commission itself in a press release from June 7th this year, the European Defence Fund will go to €5.5billion PER YEAR.
At the moment Ireland has the lowest spend on defence of all EU countries; under PESCO, we are committed to increasing this on an annual basis. And for what? Who is threatening Ireland?
Look, I can see why other EU countries would want to have a joint defence and security agreement, the newer members especially, and I believe there was an Estonian MEP at that meeting this morning, but why Ireland? Who’s going to invade us?
The nonsense that this doesn’t threaten our neutrality is just that – nonsense. Those such as Paul Kehoe may believe our neutrality is still intact, but to deny that it’s under threat because of decisions like this is to defy logic itself – we’ve joined a Defence Union, for God’s sake!
LITANY OF SHAME
This is just the latest in a series of actions by this government that leads me to question whose interests they have most at heart.
These past few weeks alone we’ve had the Taoiseach and his Cabinet trying to normalise what is in fact an extraordinary – and growing – homeless and housing crisis; we’ve had that same Taoiseach and that same Cabinet trying (and failing) to deny knowledge of a deliberate, malicious smear campaign against one of the bravest and most conscientious people I’ve ever come across, Maurice McCabe; we’ve had the humiliating and unedifying spectacle of the German Parliament granting their approval to Ireland to restructure the IMF bank bailout loans that the EU itself – Germany to the fore – had in part FORCED us to accept.
This government refused to stand up to the EU on the bank bailout loans, refuses even to open talks with the ECB and the Commission on the legality, legitimacy or even the morality of the €31billion Promissory Note Anglo legacy debt, on which we’ve destroyed €8.5billion of borrowed money in the last three years; this government is actually spending millions to APPEAL the decision by that same European Commission that we must collect a total of €19million (including interest) from Apple.
And yet on this, as on so much else, they can’t bend low enough, can’t be seen too EU-friendly enough, more than happy to pour Irish and EU billions into the coffers of the European arms industry.
At what stage does all this become too much? Do we have ANY tipping point?
POSTSCRIPT: For those who want to see what we’ve signed up, go to this website, see for yourselves. This is the tip of a growing iceberg and we’ve just got on board the Titanic.