Taoiseach to demand €1bn from EU for investment and support in border region

Taoiseach to demand €1bn from EU for investment and support in border region

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has re-stated his aim to demand up to €1bn in support from the European Union to aid border counties and Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic after Brexit.

Speaking at the commencement of the latest EU summit of leaders in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said he will make his plea for the funds during the negotiations on the EU’s next seven-year budget.

With the UK elections concluding today, the agenda has been dominated by other issues and the EU’s climate action plan and the next budget are being debated.

Mr Varadkar said EU leaders would be discussing the next seven-year EU budget and signalled that Ireland's net contribution to the EU is set to increase.

“One of our objectives is to have a new programme for Northern Ireland and the border counties worth up to a billion euros during that seven-year period, so they’re the kind of things I’ll be pressing at this meeting today,” he said.

I’m very much of the view that we should have a well-funded EU budget so that we can protect funding for CAP, Horizon, Erasmus, cohesion -- all those long standing programmes,” he said

“But also we’ll be looking for additional funding for migration and security, for climate action,” he added.

Along with Mr Varadkar, the Government is being represented at the summit by European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee and it was made clear that Ireland will be backing a new European Green Deal, being led by new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The key objective of the plan is to make Europe climate neutral by 2050 and the Taoiseach said Ireland will be seeking to draw monies from the so-called “just-transition fund.”

“We understand that their countries and economies are very coal dependant, but coal is a very dirty fuel. We’re going to say to them that this is a problem that the EU can solve together and they will be supported and they will be assisted with European funds to make that transition - just as we have to as well,” he said.

Mr Varadkar also said he hopes there will not be a hung parliament in the UK following today's general election.

"The best thing for Ireland, for the UK and for Europe would be an end to the uncertainty. So whether that's Prime Minister Johnson winning with a large majority, or Remain parties winning a majority. We'll work with whatever the outcome is. What has been very hard to work with was a hung parliament that wasn't able to come to a majority decision on anything. I just hope we're not in that position tomorrow," he said.

The Taoiseach said he expected most EU leaders would be "staying up late to watch the results come in, so we might all be a bit bleary eyed in the morning".

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