Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said the battle over a €1.85 trillion coronavirus recovery fund is a “prize worth negotiating for”.
EU leaders are in Brussels trying to agree the terms of the “unprecedented” recovery package.
The summit of the 27 leaders began on Friday and had been scheduled to end on Saturday, but member states were divided, forcing talks to continue on Monday.
The negotiations pitted a group of five wealthy northern countries — the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland — against southern nations hardest hit by the pandemic, supported by European heavyweights Germany and France.
This is unprecedented and the nature of the EU's response that is being proposed is unprecedented, but it is necessary and it is the right responseMicheal Martin
Arriving for the fourth day of the EU summit, Mr Martin described it as “long and challenging”.
“The prize is worth negotiating for and the prize is for the opportunity for the entire European Union to work collectively to reboot and restart the European recovery, and to respond to the scale of the impact of Covid-19 on the economic, social and political life of the Union,” he said.
“The unprecedented package that is before us over the last number of days in many ways explains the detailed and challenging negotiations that have followed.
“This is unprecedented and the nature of the EU’s response that is being proposed is unprecedented, but it is necessary and it is the right response.
“Ireland is taking a constructive, activist role to ensure that a package of this scale is delivered which will enable member states, particularly member states who are under particular pressure from Covid-19, are in a position to respond to it and help their economies recover from it.
“We all benefit from the single market, we all benefit from the opportunities that the European Union opens up, and that is why, in my view, it’s extremely important that a strong message emanates from this summit, that Europe collectively can work together to deal with an unprecedented crisis in our history.”
On Sunday, EU Council president Charles Michel urged the leaders to overcome their fundamental divisions and agree on the €1.85 trillion package.
During an official dinner, he conjured up a vision of the 600,000 people Covid-19 has killed around the world and the recession it has brought to the bloc.