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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to speak to European Parliament today

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Strasbourg today to take part in a series of engagements in the European Parliament.

The Taoiseach will be the first EU Leader to speak to the European Parliament in its series of debates on the Future of Europe, with other EU leaders scheduled to participate during the course of the year.

The Taoiseach will highlight the many achievements of the Union, and outline his views about its future direction. He will stress the importance of our common values and of remaining united to address the challenges of the 21st century.

The Taoiseach will also have bilateral meetings with the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and with the European Parliament’s Chief Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt. He will thank them both for their personal support, and for the support of the entire European Parliament, in acknowledging and responding to Ireland’s unique concerns in relation to Brexit. He will stress the need to ensure that the principles and commitments agreed in December are translated into the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement.

An Taoiseach said before his departure:

The values of solidarity, partnership, and cooperation which are central to the European project, have brought Ireland from a position of being one of the least developed Member States when we joined, to one of the most prosperous today.

So, along with other member states who have benefited so much from the EU, we have a particular responsibility now to lead on the future of Europe debate. We have much to offer and much to give - and I believe firmly in that responsibility and relish the opportunity.

The Taoiseach will also outline Ireland’s views on the Brexit negotiations and the importance of reaching a close and constructive future relationship with the UK. He will thank the European Parliament for its strong support for Ireland to date in relation to our unique concerns.

Full speech available here.