On the 12th of May a Report about the furthering of EU-NATO relations was debated at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This Report was voted on the following day and passed with 439 MEPs voting Yes, 183 voting No and 60 choosing to abstain.
This Report is highly controversial especially for Irish people. Ireland is not a full member of NATO although we do participate in their Partnership for Peace (Pfp) but this is purely based on peacekeeping.
NATO is an ‘intergovernmental military alliance’ that does not match the Irish mentality about military or defence in general. We are a neutral country which means little in today's world with the universal definition of neutrality meaning that you remain impartial. Due to ireland's membership of the European Union, PESCO, as well as the continued use of Shannon Airport by the US military to refuel we are barely recognised as a neutral country.
However, that is not the point. Ireland does not need to be a member of an organisation such as NATO nor does it need to be a member of an EU army. We are a small country with no enemies and no history of aggression towards others.
Europe keeps talking about distancing themselves from the United States and the importance of being independent in today's age. However, this EU-NATO relations means more cooperation with NATO which is more reliance on the United states and non-EU member states than before. When the United Kingdom leaves the EU, 80% of NATO funding will be from non EU states. How can the EU argue that they want more independence whilst pushing for more EU-NATO cooperation?
Irish MEPs should not vote to support any NATO related reports/resolutions/legislation.
The final voting results for Irish MEPS reads:
4 Irish MEPs voted No: Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Lynn Boylan, Liadh Ní Riada, and Matt Carthy.
6 MEPS voted to abstain: Mairead McGuinness, Sean Kelly, Nessa Childers, Brian Hayes, Deirdre Clune and Marian Harkin.
1 MEP was absent: Brian Crowley
The report itself offers a lot of insight into what the EU is planning in terms of defence and cooperation with NATO. The increase of spending on defence in the EU is highlighted multiple times as is the idea that the EU is unsafe and incapable of protecting themselves.
If you want to see how all MEPs voted on this issue click here.