EU Defence Plans will advance the moment Lisbon is ratified

June 10, 2008

Irish Government asked for discretion on new French plans for European defence.

A “confidential” of the Barber dated from May 21st states that “the white book on defence and security, which defines the big strategical orientations of France for next fifteen years, will not be made public before June 12th”.

The plan of the White Book the parliamentarians in France can consult the copy, is classified in effect ”confidential defence “.

According to The Barber, the postponement of its public presentation has as object to avoid scaring the Irish, very tied to their neutrality, in some weeks of referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon: ” It will be ready before this date, but the Irish government, which organizes a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon that day, asked in Paris to remain discreet. Dublin fears that the parties of the white book dedicated to the strengthening of Europe of defence nourish an antiEuropean vote and cause to fail referendum “.

It is the third time, after the reform of the European budget deferred in September and that of a report in the European Parliament on the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, deferred also to June, that it has been decided to be put back after the 12th June Irish referendum, “a subject which would risk awakening the attention of the only people called to pronounce on the European treaty.”

This appears to be main outcome of a confidential briefing by Daniel Mulhall, Director-General on the EU at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to a British diplomat Elizabeth Green.

The timing of the Irish vote (presumably mirroring a similar, though parliamentary, timetable in the UK) has been pushed forward to June 12 to avoid any inconvenient discussion over the implementation of the Treaty when France takes on the EU’s rotating presidency later this year.

“Mulhall said a date in October would have been easier from a procedural point of view. But the risk of unhelpful developments during the French Presidency – particularly related to defence – were just too great. Sarkozy was completely unpredictable,”  wrote Green.

The French will this autumn bring forward Treaty plans for increased European defence cooperation. Probably involving Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Poland and Italy (possibly with Hungary and Lithuania too), the new structured “European army” will be organised around euro-style convergence criteria such as defence spending. This is a dynamite issue in neutral Ireland, earlier moves to EU military cooperation in the Nice Treaty were blamed for a Irish referendum defeat in June 2001.

The memorandum notes (something that everyone just “knows” in Brussels), that the European Commission, and other EU institutions have a moratorium on new proposals that could spark debate – and we don’t want that, do we? Plans for an health services directive, harmonisation of corporate tax calculations, the EU’s COSI interior security committee, a job description for the new President and much, much more are all on hold – until after the summer, and ratification, are finished.

The memo is also littered (according to the extracts) with contemptuous references to the capacity of Irish people to decide on an EU Treaty that is largely incomprehensible to the lay reader”. “Most people would not have the time to study the text,” it concludes at one point.

During the French referendum, copies of the EU Constitution, a weighty and deeply dull document, became best-sellers as voters rushed to read it. Valéry Giscard D’Estaing, the Constitution’s architect, actually blamed Jacques Chirac, French President of the day, for encouraging people to pick it up. The discovery of this document was felt by many voters to be an aggression and a threat. It consolidated the negative attitude that the Constitution was too ‘complicated’, that reading it was reserved to specialists,” he wrote in Le Monde two weeks after the No vote.


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