Varadkar speaks with EU's von der Leyen ahead of meeting with Sunak

Varadkar Speaks With Eu's Von Der Leyen Ahead Of Meeting With Sunak
Ursula von der Leyen is attending a security conference in Munich on Saturday, which will also be attended by British prime minister Rishi Sunak. Photo: PA Images
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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been briefed by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen ahead of her meeting with British prime minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday.

Ms von der Leyen and Mr Sunak are attending a security conference in Munich, in addition to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin.


The conference will give EU leaders an opportunity to discuss with Mr Sunak the importance of finding a solution to the current impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Negotiations on the matter have been ongoing between the EU and UK, with mounting speculation that a deal may be unveiled early next week.

In a statement issued on Saturday morning, the Department of the Taoiseach confirmed Mr Varadkar spoke to Ms von der Leyen over the phone ahead of her attendance of the conference.

Ms von der Leyen briefed the Taoiseach "on the state-of-play in negotiations between the EU and the UK" ahead of her meeting with Mr Sunak.


The statement added that Mr Varadkar "expressed his strong wish to see a positive outcome that provides a new foundation for relations between the EU and the UK", hoping for a deal that will "pave the way for restoration of the institutions under the Good Friday Agreement".

"They agreed to stay in close touch in coming days as matters progress," the statement ended.

DUP disagreement

Ahead of Saturday's meetings, the DUP has again called for the protocol to be scrapped.

In a weekend message to party members, seen by the PA news agency, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said now is the time for “Brussels to stretch itself” to restore political stability in Northern Ireland.


He said the next generation of Northern Ireland depends on the outcome of any deal struck between the EU and UK.

Mr Sunak's attendance of the conference in Munich comes after he visited Northern Ireland earlier this week, holding meetings with the DUP and the North's other political parties.

In his weekend message to party members, Mr Donaldson repeated many of the themes expressed when he spoke to the media on Friday after his meeting with Mr Sunak.

The party message said: “On both Thursday evening and yesterday morning I engaged with the prime minister and his officials on the progress in negotiations with the European Union around the NI Protocol.


“There can be no disputing the significance of this moment.

“The negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union are only happening because of the decisive leadership this party has shown.



“The next generation of Northern Ireland depends on the actions of the prime minister and the EU Commission president in the coming days.

“Their actions will either lead to healing in Northern Ireland or perpetuate division.”

The DUP leader added: “Progress has been made in some areas and while that is welcome, in other key areas it currently falls short of what would be acceptable and required to meet our seven tests.

“I have indicated to the prime minister that it is important he agrees the right deal rather than a rushed deal.

“Solutions must be found which respect Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and its internal market and deal with the democratic deficit created by the protocol.

“This is the time for Brussels to stretch itself and demonstrate that it is prepared to restore the balance and help cement stability in Northern Ireland for the next generation.

“This is a process to correct the wrongs of the last negotiation. This process is not just about today or tomorrow it is about the next generation and giving them a foundation to build on.

“No one should be led by a calendar. Instead, London, Brussels and Belfast should be focused on getting it right.” -Additional reporting by PA

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