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Statement by Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D, on the State of the Union address by President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen

President von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech comes at a crucial time for the European Union and its Member States.

No Member State can manage the current health crisis and its effects on its own, and I was happy to see her speech focus on the central role the EU will play in responding to the crisis and ensuring a sustainable economic recovery from the pandemic.

I welcome in particular her support for the Withdrawal Agreement as a means of protecting the Good Friday Agreement and ensuring lasting peace on this island.

I also welcome the President’s commitment to protecting the rule of law and the integrity of the EU and its institutions, and to build a Union of equality and put forward a strategy to strengthen LGBTQI rights.

The President very clearly set out the challenges that the EU will face over the coming year. I look forward to working with colleagues in Europe as we look to address these challenges and deliver on the priorities outlined in the EU’s Strategic Agenda.