Wed, 23 Oct 2019

Varadkar and McEntee in Brussels for European Council meeting

Conor Trindle
20 Jun 2019, 18:09 GMT+10

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Irish leader An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee arrived in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day visit for meetings of the European Council and the Euro Summit.

The Taoiseach was scheduled to join his fellow heads of state and government to discuss the EU Strategic Agenda, cybersecurity and electoral disinformation, climate action, and new appointments for the top EU jobs including the President of the European Commission and European Council.

The leaders were also expected to hold talks on the next EU Budget, enlargement, and the current situation in Russia and Eastern Ukraine. There was also to be an informal discussion on Brexit in advance of the scheduled departure date for the UK of 31 October.

Varadkar tweeted on Thursday that he had spoken to UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday night about Northern Ireland.

"An important part of our discussions will be on Climate Action, which is a global problem. The EU must re-affirm its role as a global leader and set itself the objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. Our Climate Action Plan published this week sets out a road map for Ireland," the taoiseach said.

"We will also discuss the challenge of disinformation. We stand in solidarity with our EU partners in seeking to counter the disinformation activities and cyber activities that threaten our shared democracy."

"On Brexit, the European Council has been absolutely consistent that the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for renegotiation and that any unilateral commitments the UK Government gives must be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement," Varadkar said. "As I have said before, it would be a serious political miscalculation and a misunderstanding of how the European Union works, to think that a change of UK prime minister would change this. We are of course prepared to amend the political declaration on the future relationship, if the UK position evolves. At home, the government is continuing its intensive preparations for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit."

Minister McEntee said: "This week's European Council is an important meeting that will focus on the next EU Budget, EU Enlargement, Climate Action and a discussion on Brexit. The EU Council follows on from the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg this week where European Ministers met to prepare for this summit. There continues to be total solidarity from all EU Countries on Brexit. The position has not changed, there will be no re-negotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement."

(File photo | Credit: European Counci).

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