According to Sinnott, French President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to place defence at the centre of its EU Presidency. She implied that France would push to raise the defence expenditure of EU countries to up to as much as 6% of GDP, "which for Ireland would mean over 10 billion euros". She demanded that Paris make public its plans "immediately".
The Lisbon Treaty envisages closer military cooperation between member states, with the option of creating an EU-wide defence policy should those states so choose.
Irish neutrality in defence and security has been one of the pillars of its statehood since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1922. The Lisbon Treaty states that Ireland is not obliged to take part in, or be bound by, decisions in what is known as the "Area of Freedom, Security and Justice". But the 'no' camp nevertheless keeps insisting that under the new EU treaty Ireland will lose its neutrality.
A source from the French Permanent Representation to the EU told EurActiv that the French White Paper is "a national and not an EU strategy," adding that "it is not going to change the lives of the Irish in any way". The source added that in the field of defence, everything will continue on the basis of consensus and nobody would challenge the Irish opt-out.
In the meantime John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN who served under Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior, claimed the Lisbon Treaty undermines NATO. Speaking at the University College, Dublin, he warned the Irish not to give "more power to (EU) bureaucrats".