The four neutral EU Member States are reportedly drawing closer to accepting the new Italian-sponsored mutual defence policy proposal.
According to Associated Press, Austria and Sweden are ready to accept the Italian Presidency's modified proposal for a mutual EU defence policy clause in the European Constitution. Finland and Ireland, the EU's two other neutral states, have yet to respond to the Italian compromise.
The four neutral states rejected the previous proposal which would have obliged all Member States to help any other member in case of an attack. The mutual defence clause in the original proposal said that if any member is "the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance". However, the four states said their neutral status could be threatened, arguing that "Formal binding security guarantees would be inconsistent with our security policy or constitutional requirements".
The new Italian proposal would maintain the stipulation that EU states shall have an obligation to a partner under attack. However, an additional sentence would indicate that this stipulation "does not affect the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States".