EUROMIL’s 105th Presidium Meeting, EUROMIL’s bi-annual general assembly, took place in Limerick, Ireland, on 27-28 April 2012. The Presidium Meeting brought together more than 80 participants from 26 different associations as well as EUROMIL Office.
The meeting was opened by Emmanuel Jacob, President of EUROMIL, Ian Harrington, President of RACO (Representative Association of Commissioned Officers) and Gerry Rooney, General Secretary of PDFORRA (Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association).
Resulting from the financial and economic crisis, cutbacks in defence budgets and the negative consequences of austerity measures on European armed forces were the central focus of the gathering. In these difficult times, all agreed on the increasing relevance of EUROMIL to promote and protect the interests of military personnel across Europe.
EUROMIL’s President, Emmanuel Jacob, recalled that every eurocent lost in defence budgets will never be recovered again. Therefore, national armed forces and consequently soldiers should work closer together. Defence Ministers must decide on long lasting measures and be ready to accept further interdependence with other states. For its part, EUROMIL will have to find the right balance between the consequences of the financial and economic crisis on the functioning of the armed forces and the growing need to represent military personnel and their families.
Ian Harrington, President of RACO, added that “while we as military personnel must take our fair share of the economic burden to be borne by the citizens of our countries, our members are relying on us as their representative organisations to continue the battle to ensure that their terms and conditions are maintained to the greatest extent possible”. The need to preserve the dignity of the profession was particularly emphasised.
Besides economic consideration, the General Secretary of PDFORRA, Gerry Rooney, underlined the importance of EUROMIL as a platform of exchange of experience and best practices. Two decades ago, PDFORRA, supported by EUROMIL, was struggling for representation. These days, hosting the Presidium Meeting in Ireland for the 4th time indicates how the representative associations have been accepted in the country. Moreover, the internationalization of the activities of the Irish Defence Forces was highlighted as well as the need to exchange experiences when armed forces from different countries are serving together in operations abroad. Finally, national cooperation promoted by the fact of hosting such a meeting was warmly welcomed.
This spring, the Presidium Meeting welcomed two keynote speakers, namely Michael Noonan TD, Irish Minister for Finance, and Lieutenant General Seán McCann, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces. Paulyn Marrinan Quinn, the Ombudsman for the Irish Defence Forces, also made EUROMIL the honour to be present.
The Irish Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, recalled the military history of the city of Limerick and the evolution till the recognition of the representative associations of military personnel by the Irish government and military authorities. Since then, soldiers’ rights and entitlements are defended by the associations and the Ombudsman for Defence Forces, which were both complimented for their achievements. The Minister also emphasised the internationalisation of the Irish Defence Forces and their fundamental role in peacekeeping missions.
The Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Seán McCann, underlined that military authorities and representative associations share common policies and face common challenges. In the last two decades, representative associations in Ireland have improved communication with the military authorities on matters of mutual concern, with a shared respect and understanding of respective positions. On the defence budget cuts, the Chief of Staff noted that the economic climate presented leadership challenges. Nevertheless, the Defence Forces were always able to adapt to changes. He stated that resources must be used economically, efficiently and effectively and the strategy should align ends, ways and means. Tough decisions must be taken and even if the associations do not always agree with the choices made, information flow must remain prompt and accurate. Finally, Lieutenant General McCann stated the role of representative associations is critical to the continued success of the Defence Forces and particularly in optimising human resources and remuneration.
EUROMIL welcomed a new member from Montenegro, SOVCG (Trade Union Organisation of Army of Montenegro), and the Italian association Pastrengo was granted full membership. As a result, EUROMIL counts now 43 member associations from 28 countries.
Finally, following to the departure of Anatol Tichoniuk (KONWENT), Otto Heiling (HOSZ) and Denis Granville (PDFORRA) from EUROMIL, three new Board Members were elected. Ton de Zeeuw was elected as the new treasurer, and Simon Devereux (PDFORRA), Miguel Lopez (AUME) and Ari Pakarinen (PL) joined the Board.
Pictures are available here.
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