FG and FF must clarify their position on an EU Army

10 May 2019

Responding to the recent debate between four contenders to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, the leader of Labour, Brendan Howlin TD, called on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil European candidates to clarify their position on Ireland’s neutrality given the preference of their respective European groups for a European Army.

Brendan Howlin reiterated Labour’s opposition to the creation of a European Army.

Brendan said: “The two lead contenders to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are Manfred Weber of the conservative European People’s Party, to which Fine Gael belongs, and Frans Timmermans, who is the candidate for Labour as a member of the Party of European Socialists.

“Manfred Weber has backed Angela Merkel of Germany in calling for a permanent multinational armed force at EU level. Frans Timmermans has rejected this, and he called on Weber to show him the list of national parliaments who will give away control over sending their troops on missions.

“Guy Verhofstadt is the lead candidate for the centre-right ALDE group, to which Fianna Fáil belongs. He wants a European Defence Union as a priority, and has envisaged a European Army with 20,000 personnel being set up.

“Everyone knows that Ireland gained opt-outs on defence from the Lisbon Treaty due to public support for our tradition of military neutrality. But Fine Gael in Government has signed up to European defence co-operation under PESCO, with Fianna Fáil’s support. Labour opposed these measures and Labour MEPs will robustly defend Ireland’s tradition of military neutrality.

“Labour’s candidate to replace Jean-Claude Juncker will focus on building public housing and raising wages for working people. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s groups in the European Parliament have proposed candidates who prioritise the free market and who support a European Army.

“I call on all Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil European Parliament candidates to clarify how they will vote on any votes on European defence co-operation or the creation of a European Army.”

ENDS

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