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Snippet Contents:

We cannot allow this terrible pressure of the Brexit negotiation. I appreciate the pressure the Government is under in this regard. The Government will be judged by this in the forthcoming general election, whenever it happens. It would be reprehensible to use the pressure of Brexit as a lever to rush us into a federal European state dominated by Germany, France, Spain and Italy, despite the comments of the new Italian Government.
During our most recent debate on European affairs, I drew attention to our record as a net contributor for the past five years. We are one of only nine net contributors among the 28 member states, which is striking. The EU budget between 2021 and 2027 totals €1.27 trillion or 1.1% of gross national income. The EU Commissioner, Mr. Hogan, wanted a higher percentage. Anyway, it means that a major contribution is being made by this country year in, year out towards the maintenance of the EU. We must ensure this organisation to which we contribute so much is au fait with our needs and that emerging from Brexit we will not be placed in a terribly disadvantaged situation.
Last year, I was one of 45 Deputies who voted against the Government proposal to join the PESCO. I remain deeply opposed to any attempt to engage Ireland in an EU army. We have heard of Macron's military force, the European intervention initiative, which, apparently, will include Britain.
I wish to refer briefly to the migration crisis. The new Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, recently stoked anti-immigration rhetoric by turning away a migrant ship carrying 629 people. Malta then refused the ship but made a separate decision to accept the ship. I appreciate our Government's action in this regard. Clearly, we need a pan-European approach to migration that is fair to everyone.
I appreciate being able to make these comments, in particular on Brexit, which is now at such a crucial point in the negotiations.