Varadkar warns Ireland must respond to stronger Franco-German axis post-Brexit

Taoiseach says State will have to build new alliances and increase presence in Brussels

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD speaking during at the launch of a “national conversation” on the Future of Europe at the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin. Photograph: Collins.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD speaking during at the launch of a “national conversation” on the Future of Europe at the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin. Photograph: Collins.

 

Ireland will have friends in Europe to turn to if and when Britain leaves the European Union, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted.

Speaking at a conference on the Future of Europe, Mr Varadkar said the EU without the United Kingdom will shift the power balance within Europe.

The Franco-German axis will be much stronger than it has been in the past and Ireland must take a number of actions in response, the Taoiseach added.

Mr Varadkar confirmed Ireland will have to increase its presence in Brussels and build new alliances.

“Some of them have started already with the Baltic and Nordic countries. I do not think we will join a formal group but I do think we will need to build strategic alliances,” he said.

Mr Varadkar told the conference Britain was not Ireland’s only ally around the European table but acknowledged it would be different without them.

The Taoiseach also spoke of the attitude towards the EU, describing how individuals feel Europe has too much interference in their daily lives but is remote for them.

This has led voters susceptible to “simplistic, populist messages”, Mr Varadkar added.

The Taoiseach was speaking at the launch of the Future of Europe Initiative, a new citizens’ dialogue on the future of Europe.

Between now and May 9th, 2018, which has been designated Europe Day, the Government will hold a series of public and sectoral meetings, hearing the views in person and online of members of the public and representative organisations.

The intention is that the views expressed on Europe will provide an input into the Irish Government’s contribution to the broader future of Europe debate.