January 22, 2016 12:43 pm
The mutual defence clause was introduced in 2009 under Article 42 (7) of the Treaty of the European Union. It says that “if an EU country is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other EU countries have an obligation to aid and assist it by all the means in their power”.
This clause binds on all EU countries, but it does not affect the neutrality of certain ones; indeed, since the article does not specify that the assistance should be military in nature, countries that have a policy of neutrality (such as Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden) can still be involved. Not to forget, the clause is also consistent with the commitments of those EU countries which are NATO members.
The mutual defence clause was invoked for the very first time by France, in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Consequently, raising many questions about the right procedure to follow, MEPs reunited with each other on 20 January 2016 and voted on a resolution the following day.
In the meantime, while some countries (Germany and Britain) have already expressed consensus in joining operations against the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria, others declared their intention to participate in additional international missions – signalling their total support to France. Finally, it’s lately been stated that “the activation of the mutual assistance clause is a singular opportunity to establish the grounds for a strong and sustainable European Security and Defence Union”.
- euobserver. 2016. Weak start for EU mutual defence clause. [ONLINE] Available at: https://euobserver.com/foreign/131918. [Accessed 22 January 16].
- http://www.europarl.europa.eu/. 2016. Next step in mutual defence – European Defence Union, say MEPs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20160114IPR09904/Next-step-in-mutual-defence-%E2%80%93-European-Defence-Union-say-MEPs. [Accessed 22 January 16].
- http://www.europarl.europa.eu/. 2016. Mutual defence clause: what the requirement to help out other member states means. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20160119STO10518/Mutual-defence-clause-what-the-requirement-to-help-other-member-states-means. [Accessed 22 January 16].
Related EU terminology resources:
Written by Eva Barros Campelli
Communication trainee at TermCoord
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