Does the EU need a defense policy?
Most of the humanitarian and peacekeeping operations conducted so far worked fine under Nice. Indeed, even more could be done without these treaties.
NATO is the major European defense and security institution. Neither rivalry nor duplication are necessary and both could be a by-product of any European defense identity. Rejecting Lisbon will stall that trend.
But, surely, a small number of EU states could still proceed with such a defense policy?
Arguably, they would have to do this outside the EU framework. They could revive the WEU or some such body. The creation of more European foreign policy and defense institutions will ultimately put enormous moral and political pressure on Ireland to show more “solidarity.” We must be full members. We cannot always take without giving. Once again, it’s not a matter of what happens the day after Lisbon but rather of the medium and long-term consequences of the Treaties. As argued elsewhere on this site, we may or may not contribute to NATO;’s outreach programs. There is no obligation because we have no membership history. Besides, NATO has learned to live with a neutral Ireland. But, with the EU, there is a greater demand on our solidarity. Thus, the institutionalization of European defense and foreign policy processes, neither of which are really necessary even in Europe’s own interest, poses a much greater danger to Ireland’s statehood, foreign policy independence and neutrality in the long run.