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Opinion Poll

European elections: Voters sceptical about an EU army and whether Ireland should participate

A new The Journal/Ireland Thinks poll also found that immigration is seen as the priority issue in the European elections.

IRISH VOTERS REMAIN sceptical about whether the EU should develop its own army but overall there is no majority opposition to the idea. 

Asked directly whether the EU should start developing an EU army, The Journal/Ireland Thinks poll found 35% were in favour, 50% were against and 14% were not sure. 

Questions over EU military cooperation have long been a source of debate in the bloc, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fears about other global threats only highlighting the need for European member states to at least evaluate their security infrastructure. 

Despite previous calls from France and Germany for a standalone EU army, recent years have seen the EU concentrate on greater cooperation among the existing armies of the 27 member states. 

In his final Dáil speech as taoiseach this week, Leo Varadkar made a number of specific points about European defence, noting that EU leaders “see very dark clouds on the near horizon” and that Ireland “must be prepared for the consequences of an attack on an EU country”. 

In such circumstances, questions about a potential EU army are likely to persist and this latest poll shows both consistency and variation across a number of different voter characteristics. 

The polling provides a breakdown of responses across a number of different categories, including age, gender, party allegiance and income.

On the question of gender, 43% of Irish men were in favour of the development of an EU army compared to 28% of women.

Across the age ranges there was relative consistency. In no single age group was there a majority in favour of an EU army but those aged 18-35 were the most opposed.

Among that age group, the results broke down as: 

  • Yes – 32%
  • Not sure – 13% 
  • No – 55%

Among the age category of 55-64, there results were: 

  • Yes – 34%
  • Not sure – 14%
  • Not – 52%

Politically speaking, there were notable differences in how supporters of different parties felt about the idea of an EU army. 

Supporters from two parties, Labour (56%) and Fine Gael (55%), showed majority support for an EU army, while there was a plurality of support among voters of Fianna Fáil (44%) and the Green Party (41%)

Every Solidarity-People Before Profit voter polled was opposed to an EU army, leading to a 100% opposition figure, with 63% of Social Democrats voters and 56% of Sinn Féin voters also opposed. 

There was also opposition from supporters of Independents (73%) and Aontú (59%).  

One of the disparities that jumps from the survey is in the income category, which shows support for an EU army steadily increasing based on a voter’s salary.

Only about 24-25% of voters earning under €30,00 per year would support an EU army, with this percentage increasing to 44% for those earning over €80,000. 

Irish participation

In a separate question, voters were also asked: If the EU develops an army, should Ireland join it/send troops? 

In general, the results for this question largely matched the first but there was a very slight uptick in support, suggesting that some people may be opposed to an EU army but feel Ireland should participate if one existed. 

Overall, 38% of people would like Ireland to join an EU army if one existed, compared to 50% who would not and 11% who were not sure.

There was a greater age disparity on this question, with just 29% of 18-34 year-olds in favour of Ireland’s participation compared with 45% of those aged over 65. 

Across the political parties, a majority of supporters of Fine Gael (59%), Fianna Fáil (51%), the Green Party (53%) and Labour (64%) would all be in favour of Ireland’s participation in an EU army. 

There was majority opposition to Ireland’s participation in an EU army among supporters from Sinn Féin (60%), the Social Democrats (65%), Solidarity-People Before Profit (90%), Independents (73%) and Aontú (62%)


The opinion poll also found that immigration is overwhelmingly seen as the most important issue at European level ahead of the elections. 

Given a choice of seven options, exactly half of respondents (50%) placed Immigration/refugees as the single most important issue, ahead of Israel/Gaza (17%), the Ukraine war (13%), Climate change (11%), Economic issues (8%) and Regulating tech companies (1%)

Immigration was the top issue across age groups but this ranged from 44% of 18-34 year-olds to 55% of 55-64 year-olds. 

There were some notable nuggets when the priorities are grouped by political parties.  

For example, while Immigration was the top priority for supporters from Fine Gael (51%), Fianna Fáil (52%), Sinn Féin (43%), Labour (40%), Aontú (78%) and Independents (80%), the top priority for Social Democrat supporters was Israel/Gaza (27%)

Climate change was the most important issue for supporters of the Green Party (63%) and Solidarity-People Before Profit (40%).

The Journal/Ireland Thinks series of polls will run each month ahead of the European Parliament elections in June. It will continue to explore voter intentions, measure Irish public sentiment towards the EU on a number of issues and highlight any potential opinion gaps between different demographics of Irish society on matters important to them.


This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

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