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Varadkar: Support for coronabonds among EU leaders not unanimous

The Taoiseach took part in a European Council video conference meeting.

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Handout photo of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD on the steps of the Government Buildings Dublin, before addressing the public on the state of the coronavirus lockdown in Ireland

Handout photo of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD on the steps of the Government Buildings Dublin, before addressing the public on the state of the coronavirus lockdown in Ireland

Handout photo of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD on the steps of the Government Buildings Dublin, before addressing the public on the state of the coronavirus lockdown in Ireland

The Taoiseach has said support for coronabonds among EU leaders was not unanimous.

Leo Varadkar took part in a European Council meeting on the pandemic on Wednesday morning as EU leaders have convened to discuss the crisis.

Mr Varadkar said they discussed mutualisation of debt, known as coronabonds, but there was not unanimous support for it.

Member states remain divided over how the fund will work, with an impasse over calls by some of the worst-hit countries for mutual sharing of the debt incurred battling Covid-19.

Speaking in the Dail on Wednesday, he said: “The idea was to take a shared approach to managing debt arising solely from this crisis.

“Such an approach would have required a legal underpinning not currently provided for in the EU treaties.

“I accept that it would have take a long time to agree this, even more time if it were to be approved by all EU member states and even in ours where it would require a referendum.

“In the absence of unanimous support for that approach, we agreed that alternative solutions for  a recovery fund should be developed.”

He said the European Commission is building a stockpile of medical equipment to be distributed to member states.

“I welcome that the European Commission is building a strategic stockpile of equipment from which member states will be able to draw in future and indeed, the near present.”

“There is more to do and we need to examine how to make the EU more resilient and responsive as we chart our way through this crisis.”

He said the pandemic has strained the EU single market.

“We have seen huge stresses on the single market, as some internal borders close to people, goods and services albeit temporarily.

“As predicted, countries that closed their borders and introduced export bans had to reverse them very quickly when they learned that the benefits were less than the costs.

“A fully functioning single market and free trade beyond our borders will be necessary as we recover from the huge recession induced by Covid-19.”

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the failure of EU leaders to agree a radical response to Covid-19 is of “grave concern”.

He told the Dail: “The failure of EU leaders participating in the EU council to agree a radical response to this emergency should be of grave concern to everyone.

“Measures that have been announced are welcome but they go nowhere near the scale and action that Europe needs if it is to recover quickly.”

PA