There will be another package of sanctions on Russia which would further isolate the country, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

EU leaders meeting at an informal summit in Versailles also agreed to move to phase out dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal, although no dates have yet been agreed.

It is understood that the Government supported the fast-tracking of Ukraine’s application to join the European Union during the talks in France.

However, the application for a swift accession procedure was blocked by several larger states, including France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Eastern states, including Lithuania, supported an expedited process.

EU leaders meeting in Versailles today issued a declaration on Ukraine which once again condemned Russian aggression.

However, it stopped far short of agreeing to the Ukrainian request to urgently begin the accession procedure.

Instead, the statement acknowledged the "European aspirations and choice made by Ukraine".

Leaders also pledged to strengthen the bonds and deepen the partnership with the besieged country.

Discussions on EU enlargement are always contentious and requires unanimity from existing members.

The 27 heads of state were also being briefed by ECB President Christine Lagarde and the President of the Eurogroup and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the European Commission will respond at the end of March on Ireland's appeal for flexibility on the VAT regime for fuels.

He said other countries had also supported the issues raised by Ireland on the VAT and excise directives.

Mr Martin said the Commission would return with proposals on the issues raised.

Speaking after the summit in Versailles, Mr Martin also said the Commission would come back with a broader analysis in May on the structure of the energy market in terms of a market mechanism.

He said it was potentially looking at a decoupling of gas from renewables as an instrument in defining the gas price.

On the question of reducing European dependence on Russian energy, he said some countries have a difficulty because of the degree to which they are dependent on certain energy products, especially gas, but there may be more flexibility in respect of oil.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned that Russia's attacks on Ukraine will "deeply destabilise" food supplies in Europe and Africa as some of the world's most fertile agricultural land goes unplanted.

"Europe and also Africa will be very deeply destabilised as regards food because of what can't be planted right now in Ukraine.

"We will have to prepare for that and re-evaluate our production strategies to defend our food sovereignty... but also to be able to define a strategy concerning Africa," he added.

Without it, he warned, "several African countries will be affected by famines within 12 to 18 months precisely because of the war."

The French leader added that still more economic punishment would be piled on Russia if it continues its invasion of its neighbour.

"If things continue in the military way... we will take further sanctions, including massive sanctions," he said, trailing a G7 statement on potential further measures "in a few hours".

"All options are on the table," he added, after EU nations have held off in the first weeks of the conflict from cutting off crucial oil and gas imports from major supplier Russia.

Additional reporting AFP/Reuters