Varadkar says Ireland has to work harder to shape EU agenda post-Brexit

Leo Varadkar has said Ireland has to “work harder” to shape the EU’s economic agenda post-Brexit.

The Irish premier told those gathered at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC that Ireland was a “home away from home” for many US businesses, and hailed the “resilient” Irish economy.

The address is part of a series of engagements for the Taoiseach during his visit to the US capital to mark St Patrick’s Day on Friday.

Taoiseach visit to the US
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addresses the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC (Niall Carson/PA)

Suzanne Clark, president and chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, said Ireland is seen as “a voice of reason”, an ally in geo-political terms, and she hoped that the Windsor Framework dealing with post-Brexit trade would add certainty and stability to their relationship.

Ms Clark praised Mr Varadkar as a person of “character and commitment” and a “dear friend to the chamber” before his address to the business representatives.

“President, as you know, around St Patrick’s Day we traditionally celebrate the strong bonds, history and culture that link Ireland and the United States,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Today, we also celebrate our close political, cultural and economic alignment.

“While we are very different in size and scale, we are both champions of free trade, free enterprise and investment; we are both committed to the green transition, not just as the necessary response to climate change, but as the creator of new economic opportunities and jobs; and we both have made significant investments in each other’s countries.

“The United States is one of Ireland’s largest and most important trading partners. In 2021, the total value of trade between our two countries was 70 billion euro, representing around a fifth of Ireland’s total.

“Our business partnerships have proven enduring and reliable throughout difficult times.”

It comes after the Taoiseach said earlier that he did not envisage a banking collapse in Europe or the United States.

“We’re certainly managing and monitoring the situation very closely. But we’re not concerned about the stability or health of any of our banks.

“There are a number of Irish tech companies that are affected by what’s happening here. We are monitoring that extremely closely,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Senate Room at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC earlier in the day
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Senate Room at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC earlier in the day (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Varadkar also said that despite challenges in recent years, the Irish economy had proven “remarkably resilient”.

“The US and Europe need to work together, and with reliable partners the world over, to make the green transition happen. We must be the generation that turns the tide on climate change and biodiversity loss.

“We want to see the measures we take on one side of the Atlantic complement those taken on the other – not risk each other’s progress. That is why we welcome work under way in the EU-US Taskforce to resolve some of the issues that have arisen between us in relation to the Inflation Reduction Act.

“As you know, the United Kingdom has now left the European Union. Apart from the difficulties this has created for Northern Ireland, we have lost an ally and a champion of free trade from the EU table.

“It means Ireland has a greater responsibility to speak up for the economic model we believe in and we have to work harder to shape the EU’s economic agenda.

“We are doing that by building alliances with like-minded countries and articulating the benefits of fair and open competition on a level playing field.”