The danger of a militarised EU - an Irish point of view
November 14, 2007 15:08| by Roger Cole
At the issue of the June summit which was held on June 21 to 22 the EU elite agreed on the terms of reference of the new treaty which is to be drafted during the Portuguese presidency before the end of 2007. Defeated by the French and Dutch people during the 2005 referendums, the EU elite agreed on the terms of reference for a new treaty which is 90 to 95% the same as the one already defeated, but which they say no longer needs a referendum! The only state, where there will definitely be a referendum, is the Republic of Ireland, probably in May 2008.
National War of Independence
The fact that there will be a referendum in Ireland arises out of our National War of Independence against the British Union from 1916-22. We were able to adopt an Irish Constitution which states in Article 6 that, "all power derives from the people". When the Irish political elite sought to transfer power from the Irish people to the EU institutions with the Single European Treaty in the mid-1980s without a referendum, Raymond Crotty took a case to the Irish Supreme Court and it declared that power could not be transferred to the EU institutions from the Irish people without their consent.
So thanks are due not to the Irish elite, but to our War of Independence and Raymond Crotty.
It is this deep seated commitment to Irish Independence and our opposition to Imperialist wars that has meant that peace and neutrality were the key reasons why the elite was defeated in the 1st Nice referendum in Ireland. They only won the secondnd one because of the Declaration of Neutrality attached to the Treaty and the "triple lock" Irish law that says Irish troops cannot serve abroad without the agreement of the Irish Dail (Parliament), the Government and the UN.
Terms of Reference for the new treaty
The Declaration of Neutrality had no constraining force and, since then, Irish neutrality has been totally destroyed by the government's decision to actively support President George's Bush's war in Iraq. Indeed, over a million US troops were allowed to pass through Shannon Airport in total contravention of International law as stated in the Hague Convention of 1907.
Therefore there can be no doubt whatsoever that the militarisation of the EU and the integration of Ireland into the EU/US military structures will be a key issue in the coming referendum. It will be the issue on which the Irish elite will be defeated.
The sections on the militarisation of the EU in the new terms of reference remain intact and they include:
"Institutional measures to give the EU a stronger voice and role in international affairs: a permanent EU President and an EU Foreign Minister (now called High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HROTUFAASP)) and an EU diplomatic service (EU External Action Service);
"An expansion of the "Petersberg Task", a list of military and security priorities to be carried out by the EU's civilian and military forces, to include combating terrorism, and possible pre-emptive military action against perceived "threats";
"An innovation, Structured Cooperation, which allows mini-military alliances to be established within the structure of the EU to carry out the EU's more "demanding" missions;
"Mutual Solidarity Defence Clauses which oblige all member states to come to the assistance of any member state subject to armed aggression, terrorist threat or attack.
All these innovations have been developed within a post 9/11 international environment and with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan helping to create terrorism. They are backed up by an EU Security Strategy endorsed by the EU in December 2003.
EU Security Strategy and Preventive War
The EU Security strategy repeats President Bush's US security strategy's commitment to preventive war: "Our traditional concept of self-defence… was based on the threat of invasion. With the new threats, the first line of defence will often be abroad… We should be ready to act before a crisis occurs".
It states that threats cannot be countered by purely military means. This has raised the possibility that humanitarian aid being used as a tool in the fight against terrorism, a concern raised by Concord, a pan-European federation of over 1,200 development NGO's. It is still not clear if the budget allocated to development aid will be controlled by the new HROTUFAASP. If it is, it is inevitable that all development aid personnel will be seen as legitimate targets by those on the receiving end of the EU military such as the EU Battle Groups.
The EU does not see itself as being bound by the necessity of securing a UN mandate before dispatching its military abroad. In fact, nowhere in the treaties is it mentioned that a UN mandate is needed.
EU states are now sustaining 50-60,000 troops outside their common boundaries in over 20 countries in South East Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, the gulf region and Africa and all that is promised is more military adventures abroad.
The new de facto EU Foreign Minister shall Chair the meetings of the EU Foreign Minister and will have a Foreign Affairs Dept employing thousands of personnel. The wording of the Nice Treaty that state that the framing of a common EU defence policy "might lead to common defence" is changed to "will lead to common defence"
EU Battle Groups
The EU Rapid Reaction Force agreed in December 2003 required member states to contribute to a EU military force of 60,000 troops within 60 days anywhere in the world. It did not progress as rapidly as planned and the concept of smaller Battle Groups was devised. These Battle Groups of 1,500 troops, deployable within 15 days of agreement by the EU Council of Ministers, have the weapons for high intensity military operations. The Irish Army is part of the Nordic Battle Group with its Headquarters based in England. An EU military committee and an EU Armaments Agency have already been well established to support them. Several of the proposed Battle Groups are already operational and the Nordic BG will be ready in 2008.
The EU Security Strategy tasks for them includes; "joint disarmament operations, the support for third countries in combating terrorism and security sector reform. The EU must be able to act before a crisis occurs and preventive engagement."
A concept of "Structured cooperation" (EUSC) allows member states whose "military capabilities fulfil higher criteria" for "more demanding missions" shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the EU framework.
According to the International Security Information Service (ISIS, Brussels), should the military of the EUSC be involved in a war, the terms of their mandate could include full scale invasion. They shall undertake such wars "in accordance with the principle of a single set of forces". In other words an EU Army. Regrettably, nowhere in the treaty does it state a UN mandate would have to be a prerequisite for a military engagement by the EUSC Army.
The EU Council can also decide unanimously to charge all EU military expenditure to the EU budget, although a member state can opt out from participating in a military expedition or paying for it.
The Mutual Defence and Assistance Clause states: "If a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory the other member states shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Art. 51 of the UN Charter".
The Solidarity Clause states: "The Union and its member states shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a member state is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster. The Union shall mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including military resources".
This could include invading a country said to harbour terrorists just as the US did in the case of Afghanistan.
Imperial European Superstate
In conclusion therefore, the terms of reference of the proposed new treaty have very serious military consequences for the people of the different states of the EU. It is a major step towards the creation of an Imperial European Superstate. A superstate whose political elite refuses to gain the consent from the people from whom their power derives. Their contempt for democracy abroad can be seem by their decision to starve the people of Palestine to death because they did not like the way they voted, and their contempt for democracy within the UE can be seen by their refusal to hold referendums except in Ireland, and only then because they have to. This EU elite will self destruct, especially as they drag the people deeper and deeper into war in which their defeat is absolutely inevitable.
They offer an Imperialist Europe. In Jose Manuel Barroso's own words: "Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire". The Irish Peace & Neutrality Alliance offers a Democratic Europe, a Partnership of Independent, Democratic States, legal equals, without a military dimension. In May 2008 in a referendum, the people of Ireland will decide which they want. In the lead up to that decision the Irish Empire Loyalists will have plenty of support from the other Empire Loyalists and PANA will need all the help it can get from other European Democrats. We will be seeking to win, not just for ourselves but for all Democrats throughout Europe.
Roger Cole is the founder and Chair of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance, a broad based alliance that advocates an Independent Irish Foreign policy, Irish neutrality and a reformed United Nations as the institution through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns.