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European Defence Leaders praise Irish Presidency Defence achievements

During Ireland’s EU Presidency, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter T.D., pursued an ambitious programme in the defence area to ensure the continued development of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and to enhance Ireland’s position in this important policy area for EU Member States.

Commenting on Ireland’s Presidency initiatives, the Deputy Secretary General for the External Action Service, Mr. Maciej Popowski, said: “Ireland’s support to the High Representative and the European External Action Service over the course of the last six months has been of great value. The Irish Presidency, in particular, has helped highlight and move forward discussions in important areas such as preparations for the much anticipated European Council discussion on security and defence in December 2013.”

He went on to say that “The EEAS is particularly pleased to note the interest generated by the Irish Presidency in the development of even closer cooperation between the EU and the UN. The very concrete support by the Presidency was instrumental in ensuring that this topic and the associated action plan remain under active consideration. The EEAS has also appreciated the impetus by the Presidency to address the important and challenging area of cyber security, and to ensure cooperation between the many facets of government on this topic".

The Chairman of the EU Military committee, General Patrick de Rousiers, stated that ''Without a doubt, thanks to its engagement in European defence, the Irish Presidency was remarkably active. It has made a difference, not only through contributions to EU operations, namely the Irish commander of EUTM Somalia, the launch of EUTM Mali and the Irish support with a Counter IED team but also for the development of the EU-UN relations, cyber defence and maritime security. Furthermore, significant progress for the upcoming European Council in December this year has also been achieved.''

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ms. Maria Damanaki said that “Ireland has been at the forefront of countries looking at maritime policies from a wide perspective and a comprehensive integrated angle. Driving the blue economy requires that vision from research to concrete infrastructure developments. And we need to safeguard our oceans from risks: Ireland has been thus instrumental to organize the discussions of a possible European Maritime Security Strategy”.

The Irish Presidency in the Defence area has also received praise from the European Defence Agency. The Chief Executive, Mme. Claude France Arnould, stated that “European cooperation on defence capabilities has greatly benefited from the Irish Presidency’s active engagement. I should in particular highlight the Presidency’s initiative and support to high-level conferences on countering improvised explosive devices, and on cyber security and defence, both of which are key capability areas that can be further developed and enhanced through European cooperation.”
“I should also commend the Presidency’s leadership of EDA’s initiative on Pooling & Sharing in the area of Naval Training, which will improve interoperability and generate significant economies and efficiencies through joint efforts”, she went on to say.

Responding to these remarks, Minister Shatter said “Whilst it has been hard work, the achievements in the defence area have been very worthwhile. Our objective at the outset of the Presidency was to ensure greater appreciation and understanding of the need for cooperation between all actors, at EU level and more widely, so as to deliver safety and security for all our citizens and for the vulnerable throughout the world. I am glad to say that Ireland has advanced the discussion at EU level in a range of complex and cross-sectoral areas, such as, safety and security in the maritime domain, cyber security, and defence capabilities. The importance of regional security cooperation was also highlighted through the participation of representatives of the EU, the United Nations, NATO and the African Union, in seminars and meetings. There is significant and ongoing work in this area of regional security cooperation, and I was glad that we were able to support this important work through the Irish Presidency. We have also highlighted the case for significantly increased co-operation between Member States in these and many other areas and the need for greater commitment and “political will” if we are to realize our shared ambition for the Common Security and Defence Policy of the Union. I believe Ireland’s positive and collaborative approach to the presidency has demonstrated the extent to which small Member States can critically influence the agenda of the EU.”

The achievements in the Defence area during the EU Presidency include the following:

1. Formally launched the EU Training Mission in Mali at the Foreign Affairs Council on 18 February;
2. Relations between the EU and the UN have been revitalised and strengthened with regular structured dialogue between the UN and the External Action Service on EU support for UN operations. This engagement was further advanced with first time participation of the EU, UN, NATO and the African Union, in the Presidency Seminar on crisis management, peace support and peace enforcement operations in Dublin last February;
3. Increased cooperation in the area of Maritime Security and Surveillance to counter threats, both in European waters and in international sea lanes. This was addressed at a seminar on Challenges and Opportunities in Maritime Security and Surveillance for Effective Governance and Innovation in the EU’s Maritime Domain, which brought together both civil and military actors in the maritime security and surveillance field;
4. The European Commission adopted the EU Atlantic Strategy Action Plan in May. The Strategy was endorsed in the Council Conclusions on the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy in June. The aim of the Strategy is to develop a more coherent approach to securing and defending the EU’s maritime strategic interests and to contribute to the possible development of a European Maritime Security Strategy;
5. Initiated discussions with Member States on the key priorities for the European Council on Defence in December 2013, to ensure that the EU can effectively respond to emerging international crises and the defence industry is supported in delivering the necessary capabilities required;
6. Co-hosted with the EDA and Estonia a high-level conference on EU-Cyber Security in Brussels, to advance the debate on EU preparedness to face cyber threats, at national and EU level;
7. Greater collaboration among Member States in the provision of defence capabilities under the EDA’s “Pooling and Sharing” initiatives has been advanced with the European Defence Agency progressing a number of projects. Ireland is providing the lead on a Naval Training initiative;
8. Hosted a high level conference and workshop in Brussels on countering the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which provided an opportunity for information sharing among technical experts and identified a way forward for an EU strategy on managing IED threats into the future.

3 July 2013


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