Saturday 22 September 2018

Varadkar asks Barnier and Austrian chancellor to place Brexit at top of EU Leaders' agenda in September

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz if Brexit can be put on the agenda of a meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg this September, one month before the key deadline for a deal on Britain leaving Europe. PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz if Brexit can be put on the agenda of a meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg this September, one month before the key deadline for a deal on Britain leaving Europe. PA

Wayne O’Connor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz if Brexit can be put on the agenda of a meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg this September, one month before the key deadline for a deal on Britain leaving Europe.

Mr Varadkar said he raised the issue with his Austrian counterpart last weekend and Michel Barnier during his visit to Dublin last month.

Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Photo: Reuters
Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Photo: Reuters

He said he is confident a deal can be reached before October but acknowledged the possibility to engage in further talks in Salzburg before the deadline could be beneficial.

Austria will host an EU summit on migration on September 20. The event is organised to coincide with Austria holding the presidency of the EU during the second half of this year.

Mr Varadkar today told the Dáil that Mr Kurz and Mr Barnier were open to the idea of Brexit being included as a talking point at the meeting.

He said if it becomes evident that further discussion would help the Brexit negotiations he would make further efforts to see it is put on the Salzburg agenda.

“It is definitely and option, it is definitely a possibility and if it makes sense we will do it,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil during Learders’ Questions.

He added Ireland needs political stability as Brexit deadlines loom large on the horizon.

“We see across the water in the United Kingdom the real effects of political instability - a minority government, a confidence and supply agreement with another party and the risk of an early election - none of which is good for the United Kingdom and none of which strengthens the position of the United Kingdom as we enter in to this political period.

“The same applies here in Ireland. We need political stability. We don’t want to be going in to the autumn in to that crucial period of September, October and November without political stability and that is why it is very much in the national interest that we have political stability and we don’t risk finding ourselves in the position the United Kingdom finds itself in.”

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