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Minister Shatter seeks clarity and consensus at EU level for the upcoming European Council on Defence to be held in December 2013.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., addressed a seminar, taking place in Dublin Castle today, which will form an integral part of the preparatory process of developing the agenda for the European Council discussion on defence in December 2013. The seminar afforded contributors and participants an opportunity to consider and debate issues across the areas delineated by the European Council in December 2012.

Opening the high level seminar, Minister Shatter underlined the importance of this Council meeting and the need for clarity and consensus at EU level to ensure that the EU can effectively respond to emerging international crises: “to progress and achieve the EU’s ambition in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) requires a greater willingness amongst Member States to coordinate our efforts rather than continuing to act individually. For this coordination to be effective, there is a need for all of us to take real and substantive actions to give effect to such cooperation in support of the Union’s ambitions for the Common Security and Defence Policy. We need to ensure that the Union has the requisite resources and military capabilities, able and willing to effectively respond to emerging international crisis that could ultimately have an adverse effect on us all” he said.

The Minister elaborated on the challenges to be faced in today’s rapidly changing world, stating that “the threats to our security that we face today are real and substantial. They threaten not alone our citizens and communities, but also international peace and security at large. Throughout the world, these threats have become more difficult to address and are becoming ever more interrelated. As we endeavour to tackle or indeed overcome these many security challenges, we must strengthen both our response and our capacity to respond”.

The Minister stressed the need to overcome the situation where internal delays in assigning needed resources from those readily available to member states causes delays in launching a CSDP operation. He emphasized the need to “ensure that there is the political will amongst all concerned to make these capabilities available when and where needed in support of international peacekeeping and crisis management operations.”

The Minister acknowledged that all parties engaging in discussions regarding the European Council on Defence agree that there is a need to increase the effectiveness and visibility of CSDP. He also acknowledged the importance of Defence to the EU and to the larger world, saying: “European Defence matters …. it matters for the safety and security of the Union as a whole; and it matters on the international stage for the safety and security of the most vulnerable in the world. It also matters because of the jobs, the cutting edge technologies, and the potential for growth it delivers”.

Commenting on the importance of leveraging the capacity of industry to contribute to jobs and innovation and to address both civil security and defence requirements, the Minister said: “We must ensure that we eliminate duplication and deliver more effective collaboration in the development and exploitation of complementary technologies for civilian security and military defence capabilities. To this end, we need to work very closely with all parts of the Commission, so as to ensure that we collectively strengthen CSDP efforts – both in the civilian and defence domains”. Finally, the Minister pointed to the importance of engaging the Defence community and member States in the debate on CSDP, crisis management, future capability development and defence research and industry across both the Commission and External Action Service domains, and the need to ensure that there is an effective institutional framework and processes to this end. “As we move forward to the December European Council, the Defence community as a whole must seek to ensure that Heads of State and Government understand and appreciate the opportunity that the meeting presents for Europe’ security, its place in the world and for development, jobs and growth. We must also engage with our citizens across Europe so they understand and appreciate the importance to them of CSDP with regard to their personal safety and security and are supportive of initiatives taken”.

Speaking at the seminar, the Minister pointed to the need for greater synergies and coordination between EU Institutions and within member States. “A complimentary and joined up approach is particularly relevant in the context of ongoing work on International Terrorism, Cyber Security and Maritime Surveillance, where there are extensive synergies and capability linkages between Commission action, Justice and Home Affairs and CSDP. We must leverage these synergies right across the security and defence capability spectrum in the interests of our overall security and for stability, jobs and growth. This is the message we need to bring to our Heads of State and Government in December”.


Note for Editors

The European Council meeting in December will include, for the first time in five years, a thematic discussion by Heads of State and Government on defence and on military capabilities.

Today’s seminar will include a range of high level speakers from the major EU institutions engaged in the process leading up to the European Council in December 2013, together with representatives from Member States, the Defence Industry and Academia. Speakers and Participants will consider and debate the issues on CSDP and defence.

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