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Snippet Contents:

PESCO provides a mechanism through which crisis management capabilities can be developed by member states in support of Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP, operations. Participation in PESCO in no way changes our policy of military neutrality, contrary to what some Members of this House may think. We will continue to make our distinctive contribution, based on our own traditions and strengths. Work is also ongoing on a range of other issues including military mobility and funding for capability development, including a proposal to establish the European defence fund, with a view to the next multi-annual financial framework and further development of the civilian CSDP. We will continue to engage constructively with our EU partners on these proposals. As Deputies are aware, the EU 27 leaders, meeting in Article 50 format on Friday morning, will discuss Brexit. As the Taoiseach has said, the lack of progress in the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement is very disappointing for all. There is now an urgent need to intensify efforts if we are to conclude the agreement and have it operational by the time the UK leaves.
The European Council is likely to send a clear message to the UK that these negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken so far are respected in full. Without a backstop, there will be no withdrawal agreement and therefore no transition arrangements. While we hope that the future relationship between the EU and the UK will be as close, comprehensive and ambitious as possible, the Government continues to plan for the full range of scenarios. It is likely that the European Council will urge all member states to do the same.
The Taoiseach will report back to the Dáil next week on the outcome of the European Council meeting which he will attend tomorrow and on Friday.