The Treaty of Nice is irrelevant to the immediate desire of enlarging the European Union, since the Treaty of Amsterdam provides a framework for up to 5 additional member states, and the detailed arrangements for further members can be worked out in the treaties of accession for those countries.

The Treaty of Nice expands the ties between Ireland and the military side of the European Union, which is linked to NATO institutions. A tie between Ireland and NATO conflicts with Ireland's traditional status of neutrality, which is in conformity with article 29 of the Constitution pledging Ireland to seek the pacific settlement of international disputes. The policy of neutrality has been undermined by previous decisions such as the decision to enter the Partnership for Peace without a referendum, and a clear decision is necessary to stop a further erosion. Neutrality for Ireland has not meant a policy of non-engagement under any circumstances, but a position of non-alignment which does not tie Ireland into the expectations of other countries but leaves it free to help peacekeeping where the Government and D°il think it is appropriate. The definition of neutrality as the lack of a mutual defence commitment is not part of the traditional definition of Irish neutrality, being only introduced in the Foreign Affairs White Paper of 1996.

A tie with NATO links Ireland to an alliance whose strategy involves the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, two of the states possessing nuclear weapons being EU member states. The use of nuclear weapons was outlawed in almost all conceivable circumstances by an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996. A tie with the nuclear arsenals of Britain and France makes it more difficult to secure the ending of the civilian use of nuclear power, since nuclear warheads, even if not upgraded, need to be replaced periodically with radioactive material produced in dual-use (military/civilian) facilities.

It is not a condition of Ireland's remaining in the European Union that it must participate in military activities, as is proved by the protocol to the Maastricht Treaty excluding Denmark from the military structure.

The European Union should concentrate on its economic activities. The EU has only a partial and co-operative foreign policy and a united military force is inappropriate.

Ireland can participate in common military activities when it wishes, as it has done for many years under the auspices of the United Nations: a permanent structure is not necessary. The very existence of a permanent structure, in which Irish officials and military officers take part, will tend to predispose Ireland towards participation so that a decision to participate will cease to be a free decision. The United Nations and its European regional organisation, the OSCE, are more suitable bodies for military co-operation as they have a clearer dedication to peacekeeping and are not so liable to be sidetracked by economic interests.


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