Tuesday 24 February 2009

Ireland will not opt out of the ESDP

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has ruled out a complete opt-out out of the ESDP, as the Danes did after Maastricht. The debate seems to be moving on to the membership of the European Defense Agency.

The impression that I get when people point to the EDA as an example of the militarisation of the EU is that it always seems to be made out to be more than it is. The EDA is supposed to ensure a freer market in military goods, and aims to ensure that military hardware is cheaper for national governments and that the military technology of the member states armies, etc are more compatable, so on joint missions (such as in Chad where Ireland leads the EU mission) EU countries have similar military hardware so they can work together more easily and aren't hindered by unfamilarity and/or incompatability with each other's hardware. It is not entail defense committments.

So an agency that will help ensure bigger bang for our (Euro) bucks and mean that on common missions it's easier for our soldiers to work together and be well equiped. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? Member states get to benefit from cheaper and better military hardware while spending similar amounts on defense so that better defense does not have to mean cutting down on the welfare state.

Unless you have a moral aversion to co-operation in terms of military technology and markets, this does not represent a significant militarisation of European countries. If anything, it's a mechanism designed to make defense cheaper and better without the military and political integration that is advocated by some (on the basis that it would reduce the wasteful duplication of national defense budgets).

I wonder if the EDA would make it cheaper for Ireland to increase the size of our navy to help patrol our coast and prevent successful shipments of drugs. Ireland has a very small navy (is it only 9 ships officially or something now? Of course there would be several small ones too...), and as this Tagesschau report says (in German), we're not exactly winning the "War on Drugs". [There are nice parts of Limerick, by the way...]

In other news, the big oilslick off the Irish coast is Russia's fault. What exactly was Russia's flagship doing around there anyway? Is it common practise for the flagships of major powers to just sail about to show the flag?

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