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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attending meeting of the EU-Western Balkans Summit & European Council in Brussels on 13, 14 & 15 December

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attending meeting of the EU-Western Balkans Summit & European Council in Brussels on 13, 14 & 15 December

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., will travel to Brussels on 13 December to attend the annual EU-Western Balkans Summit and for a meeting of the European Council on 14 and 15 December which will discuss Ukraine, EU enlargement, the revision of the EU multilateral budget and the situation in the Middle East as well as security and defence issues.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, the Taoiseach said:

“This week’s European Council has a very heavy agenda and will be asked to make a number of very important decisions. Ukraine continues to be a top priority. It is vital that the leaders agree to open accession negotiations with Ukraine. EU membership will be central to ensuring Ukraine’s long term security. In the more immediate term, it is vital that the EU agree to give Ukraine certainty on the financial support it continues to need as part of our review of the EU’s budget.

I am approaching the meeting in constructive mode and will work for a positive outcome. It is not clear, however, that everyone is doing the same. I would urge anyone thinking of blocking agreement to reflect very carefully on the consequences of their actions. Not reaching agreement will be detrimental for Ukraine, and will serve to embolden Russia and President Putin, against whom the people of Ukraine have taken such a brave stand.

I will also be supporting the opening of accession negotiations with Moldova and with Bosnia-Herzegovina, once certain conditions are met, and the granting of EU candidate status to Georgia.

We will also have an important discussion on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza. In line with the call from the Secretary General of the UN, together with my Spanish, Belgian and Maltese colleagues, I have written to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and I will use my intervention to call for an urgent and immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

I will also be urging colleagues to do all we can to increase humanitarian access to Gaza, including though opening additional crossings; to take action to address the deteriorating situation in the West Bank, including in holding those fomenting violence against Palestinians to account; and to redouble the EU’s efforts to revive a political process based on a two-state solution.

On the eve of the European Council, I look forward to attending the EU-Western Balkans Summit. This is a moment to reiterate support for the EU membership perspective of the Western Balkans, based on a merit-driven reform process.”