While Ireland has the highest level of support for Brussels of any member state, Brian Hayes MEP has predicted fortunes could change in the near future with an eye-watering EU budget on the horizon.
The MEP for Dublin said Ireland, which since 2014 has been a net contributor to the bloc, could shell out as much as €3 billion (£2.64 billion) for the next budget.
And he said Eurosceptics in Ireland would have more ammunition for their anti-Brussels campaign over the coming years, especially as the bloc moved towards an EU Army.
Mr Hayes has issued a fiery call-to-arms for the EU on his personal blog, telling those who supported the EU to stand up and be counted.
He said: “For Ireland, now a net contributor since 2014, we have now entered a new phase in the EU Budget. Many will ask why we should be paying more.
“It is more than likely that over the course of the next 7-year budget, that our overall net contribution to the EU budget from 2020-2027 might be somewhere between €2- 3 billion.
“Irish politicians have a duty to prepare the public for the debate. We need to explain why we must show solidarity to other poorer regions. That developing the single market is good for Irish exporters and good for Irish/EU investment.”
He said the “battle lines” for the upcoming EU budget negotiation was already shaping up but said Brussels needed to adopt a different approach given the challenges facing the EU.
Mr Hayes said: “This time it must be different. We don’t have the luxury of thinking that its business as usual.
“I’m calling on all of the players – Council, Commission and Parliament – to do the impossible and come to an agreement on the EU budget by the time of the European Parliament elections in May 2019.
“That one act, more than anything else, would send out a strong signal that the EU is getting ahead of the next crisis. That the EU is changing.”
And he took particular umbrage with claims Brussels is working towards an official EU Army – one which Ireland, historically a neutral state whose army is largely involved in peacekeeping operations, would not support.
He said instead the EU Defence Fund was a chance to save money, cooperate with other nations and better protect Ireland from evolving threats.
Mr Hayes concluded: “The new European Defence Fund is split between research spending around emerging new threats and co-financing projects which help collaborative capability. None of this impinges upon our neutrality.
“It is not a brave new EU militarisation, but a cautious, common sense and proportionate response to Europe’s security challenges. That is why this debate is so important.”