is likely that SF's southern delegates will speak
in opposition to the Treaty, as SF has campaigned
for a `no' vote in every `European' referendum in
the Republic, from the membership poll in 1972 to
the adaptation of the euro.
Irish Minister for European Affairs, Mr Noel Tracey
has said that the Irish referendum on the Treaty
will take place in the second half of this year,
and promised a "strong public information and
predicted that a lively debate would begin on the
Treaty within the next few months", according
to the Irish Times.
Ireland in Europe will not be participating in the
debate in the South, but will be watching events
with interest. There are over 40 per cent of NI
voters who vote for Irish nationalist parties, and
they will be very interested too. Sinn Fein voters
are in a unique position, as their party policy
is formulated on an all-Ireland basis, so what their
fellow supporters in the South do has an effect
on the situation and debate in the North.
following article is written by Thomas Lefevre,
a PhD student of European Studies at Queen's University
Belfast, and explores the perception common among
many in the South and among some nationalists that
Irish neutrality is under threat. The reality is,
as usual, quite different.
to a common perception, the security side of the
European Union is not emerging with the European
Constitutional Treaty (ECT). The Common Foreign
and Security policy (CFSP) was set by the Treaty
on the European Union (TEU) signed in Maastricht.
The CFSP was built during the Bosnian tragedy to
preserve the specifics values of the EU under the
framework of the UN charter. The aim was to create
some mechanisms which would improve coordination
among member states when crisis occur.
perception is that the ECT is a gravedigger of Irish
neutrality and then should be rejected. From its
creation, the TEU was respecting specificities of
member states by recognizing the right of being
non-aligned. It was already including the so-called
`Irish clause' which affirms that `The policy of
the Union (
) shall not prejudice the specific
character of the security and defense policy of
certain Member States' (J.4.4). The CFSP was reinforced
under the Amsterdam Treaty which integrates the
so-called Petersberg tasks creating some soft security
mechanisms such as humanitarian and rescue tasks,
peacekeeping, the use of combat forces in crisis
management, including peacemaking.
goal of the European Constitutional Treaty is to
rationalize under a same umbrella the Byzantine
set of acquis which are the thousands pages that
constitute the successive Treaties. As a consequence,
it is not a surprise to find the Irish clause re-appearing
under the article I.42.2.
there are also some novelties under the ECT (III
309): it reinforces the Petersberg tasks by extending
its scope with adding to the peacekeeping tasks
some conflict-preventions and fight against terrorism.
9/11 and the Madrid bombing were a reminder that
international and European security cannot be taken
for granted. To respond to a terrorist attack, the
ECT integrates a clause of solidarity which gives
the opportunity to the victim state to ask for assistance.
However, it is not compulsory as there are no requirements
of assistance. The state remains sovereign and so
is Ireland who can choose on a case to case basis
to participate or not.
also does not create a European Army: Irish soldiers
will not be ordered to fight under the blue banner
if the Irish government does not want it as well
as it will not create a European military service.
It is the same opt-in procedure for the other mechanisms
of the ECT. The creations of permanents and enhanced
structured of cooperation are also not compulsory.
For the states who wish to join, they need to fulfil
some requirement in terms of troops but these requirements
are just a fraction of the total of the national
member states and do not involve nuclear weapons.
The ECT is also creating a European Defence Agency
to harmonize the development of the different national
defence industry but again it is only open to the
states who wish to join. Some might argue that the
EU is becoming more and more militarized. However,
it stayed at a very low based and with substantial
limitations. We need to keep in minds that on two
occasions, in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999,
a fragile peace followed the military intervention
and to maintain this balance; a large amount of
peace-keepers were required. Ireland took its responsibilities
in being part of the first EU led operation Artemis
in the Democratic Republic of Congo, operation which
was under a UN Security Council mandate. Although,
still fledgling, the CFSP is a great opportunity
to led alternative actions outside NATO without
the unilateralism of the USA to respond to terrorist
crisis as well as natural disaster under the UN
framework or mandate.