Some hidden costs of Ireland joining the embryo EU army
From PEOPLE’S NEWS News Digest of the People’s Movement, No. 177 3rd December 2017
Today Ireland spends relatively less on defence than any other EU member-state, and is among the very lowest spenders on defence in the world. But that will change if Ireland joins the EU’s “permanent structured co-operation” (PESCO) — the embryo EU army.
The joint notification, which Ireland is likely to sign at the December EU summit, states that “PESCO is an ambitious, binding and inclusive European legal framework for investments in the security and defence of the EU’s territory and its citizens.” It includes a list of “ambitious and more binding common commitments” that the member-states have agreed to undertake, including “regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms in order to reach agreed objectives.”
During the past year EU states that are members of NATO agreed to increase military spending to reach a target of 2 per cent of GDP by 2022. These are a majority in the EU; and given that the objective of the “common security and defence policy” in the Lisbon Treaty (2009) was to create a European pillar of NATO, it is likely that there will be pressure to reach this target should Ireland join PESCO.
Military missions are expensive! It is not common knowledge that the Irish-led EU Force in Chad in 2008 has already cost Irish taxpayers €59 million.
PESCO also includes an annual budget of €500 million [Editor -initially only but will rise to €5 billion or 2% of GDP] for joint security and defence projects —an amount that might be increased in the future. The problem here is that all our contribution would go to providing jobs in other — mostly big — EU states, as (thankfully) we don’t have an armaments industry of our own. (This is notwithstanding the fact that there is significant dual-use production in American transnational corporations based here.)
Our contributions to PESCO would also facilitate the development of weapons in countries over whose exports we would have no control. For example, Germany has been criticised for massively increa sing arms sales to the Middle East dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The German government approved the export of nearly €450 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the third quarter of 2017 — more than five times the €86 million it sold in the same quarter last year.
The military dictatorship in Egypt alone bought nearly €300 million worth of weapons, making it the biggest export destination for German arms, while Saudi Arabia, at present conducting a blockade of Yemen, handed over nearly €150 million. By comparison, the two countries imported €45 million and €41 million, respectively, in the third quarter of 2016.
The German government has not given details of the types of weapons exported, but a large proportion of the sales to Saudi Arabia probably consists of patrol boats.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are responsible for thousands of deaths from their dirty war in Yemen, where there is a continuing civil war between Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government. The military intervention by a Saudi led coalition has led to the death of nearly ten thousand people and has created the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, in one of the Arab world’s poorest states. Human rights organisations have said the Saudi-led coalition may have committed war crimes, and the United Nations has warned that some 7 million people face possible famine.
It used to be completely ruled out for Germany to deliver weapons to countries that were participating in wars; but exports began a few years ago when Turkey was sold weapons, despite its war with the Kurds.
We will be hearing a lot of reassuring and soothing sounds regarding “neutrality” during the next few weeks; but the increased costs of military involvement, probable complicity in weapons exports to repressive regimes, and who knows what sort of military adventures, will put paid to any remaining vestiges of neutrality.
And we will have to ask ourselves whether we want to become involved in future resource wars and geopolitical manoeuvrings orchestrated by the EU’s former colonial powers, which can easily dominate Ireland in all EU forums.
src: See attached PN-177.pdf or http://www.people.ie/news/PN-177.pdf