Coordination between EU member states to respond to the Covid-19 crisis was "too slow" in early stages of the pandemic in Europe, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said today. 

He said this led to countries taking things into their own hands. He added there had been "uncertainty and incoherence" when Europe was first affected by Covid-19. 

He said the closure of some borders was carried out in an uncoordinated manner. 

However, he stressed since the initial phase the EU had responded in a "very comprehensive way" by preserving the Single Market, putting together a package of funding for businesses, and repatriating citizens to their home countries.

Mr Coveney said some countries were left "vulnerable" in terms of securing personal protection equipment (PPE). 

He suggested there could be a system of allowing countries to access equipment centrally instead of competing with each other on international markets. 

Mr Coveney was speaking at an event hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs. 

On Brexit he said that the row over the EU planning to have an office in Belfast was a "non issue" as it was always envisaged that European officials would have to maintain a presence in Northern Ireland. 

He said the two rounds of Brexit negotiations held so far had got "nowhere". 

He predicted that negotiations will pass through the deadline in June and then hit a crisis point in the autumn.