Senator Higgins said, “If MEP’s sign off on this agreement this week, they will be undermining the power of the next parliament to scrutinise or hold the European Defence Fund to account.”
She continued “I am asking MEP’s of all parties to indicate where they stand on this by either speaking and voting against this abdication of democratic oversight. At the very least, I would ask them to delay the vote until a new Parliament with a new mandate is in place.”
Senator Higgins was an early critic of Ireland's decision to join the PESCO military alliance, noting at the time that "In the founding document of PESCO, peace is not mentioned even once" and raising concerns about PESCO's goal of greatly increased defence spending, "very little of which is likely to go towards wages".
Speaking this morning, Senator Higgins noted, "When we look at PESCO and the European Defence Fund, we have to question the appropriateness of directing so much funding towards militarisation when the EU faces such huge collective challenges in other areas like climate change. There are also very specific issues around the purpose and detail of this spending. Will it, for example, support autonomous weaponry such as AI based drones? Will it undermine UN mandates? These are the kind of questions MEPs in the next Parliament need to be able to ask".
Senator Higgins, who is chair of the Oireachtas cross party group on Peace, Neutrality and Disarmament, concluded, "Ireland has a proud record on disarmament and peacekeeping and our best contribution to Europe is as beacons and champions for peace. We should not compromise our peace builder role by signing up to the European Defence Fund and choosing to turn a blind eye to its operations.”