Irish soldiers are participating in an Austro-German battle group, beginning on 1 July. There are 175 personnel involved, and they will be on standby at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin.
The Dáil will be asked to approve a memorandum of understanding covering Ireland’s participation. The memorandum will be between Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Croatia and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and will set out principles in relation to the operation, deployment and management of the battle group. It defines Germany as the framework state and Austria as the logistic lead state.
The standby costs are €380,000, and the estimated additional cost for a maximum 120-day deployment of the group is €10.7 million.
The purpose of the EU battle groups is to undertake operations as outlined in the Amsterdam treaty —the Treaty on European Union. These operations, known as the Petersberg Tasks, include tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. In the Lisbon Treaty these tasks were expanded to include joint disarmament operations, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention, and post-conflict stabilisation.
In the words of Alan Shatter, “Ireland’s active engagement in EU battle groups enhances our capacity to influence the ongoing development and evolution of the rapid-response capacity of the EU.”
So much for our policy of neutrality!