Varadkar: No pressure on Ireland to change neutrality

Varadkar: No pressure on Ireland to change neutrality

Leo Varadkar: “Ireland is militarily neutral which means that we’re not members of any military alliance, but we’re not politically neutral.”  Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

The Taioseach Leo Varadkar has insisted he has never felt pressure from other EU leaders to change the country's neutrality.


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On Thursday night, EU leaders signed off on a plan to send a million artillery rounds to Ukraine within the next 12 months and to spend €2bn on building ammunition capacity within the bloc in the coming years.

Arriving at the second day of an EU summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said Ireland’s stance as a militarily neutral state means it does not take part in such plans and despite pressure known to be ramping up behind the scenes, the Taioseach publicly insisted it’s a position respected by the other EU countries.

“I’ve never for a second felt any pressure from other prime ministers or presidents to change our position,” said Mr Varadkar. “Ireland is militarily neutral which means that we’re not members of any military alliance, but we’re not politically neutral.” 

Austria, Malta and Cyprus are the other EU countries to hold a neutral stance, meaning they also don’t send lethal weapons to Ukraine.


The second day of the EU summit is focusing on the economy and the single currency, thrown into sharper focus by the collapse of major Swiss bank, Credit Suisse.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, who serves as the President of the Eurogroup which oversees the euro area, is also in Brussels for the meetings, and tried to temper fears of contagion or a fresh banking crisis.

"I believe we have the reserves and the resilience to ensure the stability of our banking system,” Mr Donohoe told reporters.

He was also pressed on whether the European Central Bank’s recent 0.5% interest rate increase would negatively affect the estimated one third of Irish consumers struggling with their mortgages.

“The challenge that we have is one that has to be shared between budgetary policy and the decisions that are made with regard to interest rates,” said Mr Donohoe.

ECB President Christine Lagarge is also debriefing EU leaders on the bank's decision to continually raise rates.

Fossil fuels

Elsewhere at the EU summit, France and Germany are fighting over Berlin’s u-turn on a plan to ban the production of combustion engine cars by 2035, which was agreed by all countries last year.

German Chancellor Scholz wants an exception for vehicles which run on fuels produced as a by-product of electricity, known as e-fuels. But many fear it will create a loophole for fossil fuel engines to continue to be manufactured.

President Macron is said to be furious and now wants concessions for France’s nuclear power production industry within the EU’s plans for greening the economy.

Meanwhile, smaller EU countries are frustrated that the two major economies of the bloc are holding these discussions directly between themselves on the sidelines of the main summit, without involving all the leaders.

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