Baltic Sea

Government halts investments outside the EU ‘if they threaten our security’

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has pledged to stop non-EU investment in Ireland “if it threatens our security”.

As Secretary of State for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Varadkar has drafted a bill that for the first time in history will give the government the power to veto investment in Ireland.

“We can’t be naïve about the fact that sometimes states and state-owned companies from countries do that [don’t] share our values ​​and may wish to invest in sensitive or critical infrastructure projects,” explained An Tánaiste News reporter.

“Like our health service or our power grid, our military infrastructure, our port infrastructure and what this legislation will enable us to do for the first time is that it gives the government the power to scrutinize these investments.”

The legislation only applies to non-EU companies and Mr Varadkar promised the state would quickly consider applications:

“And if a non-EU investor wants to invest in a sensitive area, that investment will be screened,” he continued.

“We’re going to do it fairly quickly, we expect it will be fine in the vast majority of cases, but if we’re concerned that the investor might have negative intentions or ulterior motives – particularly if they’re investing in areas where that’s the If that were the case, our national security or critical infrastructure would be compromised – it would then allow us to ask questions.

“And if need be, to block that investment or impose conditions.”

Investment versus values

The ethics of foreign investment has increasingly become an issue of international politics in recent years; During the Trump administration, American officials raged against Germany’s decision to go ahead with construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The controversial project would have transported billions of euros worth of Russian fossil fuels cheaply across the Baltic Sea to Germany, and former US President Donald Trump lamented that it would turn Berlin into a “hostage to Russia”.

Washington sanctioned companies involved in the project, and Germany and the European Union complained about American “interference in autonomous decisions made in Europe”.

However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the project, saying Germany will begin the difficult process of weaning off Russian fossil fuels.

CCR4Y6 St Petersburg, Russia. April 9, 2010. The construction of the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea has officially started near Vyborg in the city of Leningrad Region. In the picture: employees of the Gazprom company

Similarly, in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson found himself on the receiving end of a Trump ration after London announced it would allow Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, to roll out its 5G network.

President Trump was reportedly “apoplectic” during a phone call with Mr Johnson, urging him to abandon the project on national security grounds; Huawei has been accused of being an extension of the Chinese state, and Washington was worried the company could be helping Beijing spy on Britain.

The UK government acknowledged that Huawei was a “high-risk vendor” but said it would limit its involvement in the project.

The logo of Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology company that designs, develops and sells telecommunications equipment and consumer electronics.

However, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a reassessment of Western policy toward China. In July 2020, the UK government announced the end of its relationship with Huawei, ordering the removal of all the company’s devices from the UK 5G network by 2027.

“As the facts have changed, so has our approach,” Oliver Dowden, then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told the House of Commons.

“This was not an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and for our economy, both now and for the long term.”

The decision was described by the New York Times As a “great victory for the Trump administration”

Main picture: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar arrives at the cabinet on 03/22/2022. Image: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews