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Taoiseach travels to Vienna to meet Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is travelling to Vienna this evening to meet with newly elected Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at his invitation.

The visit is part of the Taoiseach’s ongoing programme of personal engagement with EU leaders for discussions on the Future of Europe and Brexit. The meeting with Chancellor Kurz is the first opportunity for the Taoiseach to have detailed discussions with his Austrian counterpart since the formation of a new government in December. They have met before in Brussels as EPP party leaders.

The Taoiseach and the Chancellor will discuss major issues including the next EU budget - which will be discussed by Heads of Government later this month - security and defence policy, and EU enlargement into the Western Balkans. They will also discuss Brexit, including the withdrawal agreement, the transition period and the UK's future relationship with the EU which are currently under negotiation. The Taoiseach will also have a brief bilateral meeting with the Austrian President, Alexander van der Bellen, as part of his visit.

Speaking before his departure, the Taoiseach said:

This visit to Austria is another important opportunity to build stronger ties with a close partner, especially as we look ahead to the upcoming Austrian Presidency of the EU, which begins in July. I want Ireland and Austria to be allies during this period. As countries we share so much. We are both pro-enterprise, pro-business, free-trading countries that are militarily neutral and know all about the benefits and challenges of having a big neighbour. We also share a commitment to nuclear disarmament and are both significant recipients of funding under the CAP.

I will speak to Chancellor Kurz about Ireland's priorities for Phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations, and thank the Austrian Government for their support to date. I will also set out Ireland's position on crucial European issues including the Future of Europe and the EU Budget post 2020.

Later this evening, the Taoiseach will attend the annual Vienna Opera Ball as a guest of Chancellor Kurz.