Micheál Martin speaks with European Commission president and Brexit chief

By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told the European Commission president of the need to support Irish regions and sectors worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Martin spoke with Ursula von der Leyen earlier today, where she also congratulated him on becoming Taoiseach and on the formation of the new coalition government.

Both spoke about the EU recovery fund, which leaders across the bloc still have disagreements about-despite a recent summit. Leaders will meet again next month at another summit to try and agree how the fund will be applied to countries and also funded.

Mr Martin and Ms von der Leyen also spoke about the multi-annual financial framework for the union. Both touched on the common agriculture payments negotiations and their importance to Ireland while the two also discussed the latest developments on Brexit.

Mr Martin also spoke with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today, discussing the latest updates from Brussels over the standoff over a trade deal between the bloc and Britain.

Mr Martin told Mr Barnier it was important the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit deal, which aims to avoid a hard border, is implemented "as soon as possible", his spokeswoman confirmed.

The future relationship between the bloc and Britain was also addressed by the two and it was agreed that the EU 27 must remain "united" during further talks or negotiations.

Any deal with Britain must be balanced but reflect the “values and interests" of the EU, the two agreed.