The rapid external events were shaping the European security architecture and the internal European Union (EU) debate about its security role, in a way, which served to focus the EU's attention more sharply on what it could practically contribute to the security architecture. The chapter analyses the factors which formed the backdrop to the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and assesses their influence on the negotiations. It also assesses the extent to which the concept of neutrality has changed as a result of these factors and to make comparisons between Ireland and the other neutrals. Arguably since the neutrals have entered the EU and initiated closer co-operation with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a new 'practical' phase of neutrality has been entered. Accordingly, NATO endorsed the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces as a way of facilitating both the European Security and Defence Identity and co-operation with Western European Union and NATO's new missions in the peacekeeping field.